FAO, Sweden Sign New Agreement to Promote Climate Change Awareness in Schools

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has signed an agreement with the Embassy of Sweden to undertake the Green Schools Initiative (GSI). #WhisperEyeNews #Climate

The GSI will raise awareness and understanding of climate change and environmental degradation within schools in Uganda while empowering academic institutions and school-going children to take an active role in the solutions to environmental challenges.

Lack of knowledge, due to limited awareness and sensitization in communities is among the major factors limiting the adoption of climate change adaptation and mitigation practices. The need for capacity development is among the identified priority areas if Uganda is to attain the set targets in the National Climate Change Strategy and the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Although school-going children form the bulk of the population in Uganda, they are less exposed to aspects related to climate change and this affects their abilities to make informed choices regarding consumption patterns, lifestyle and influencing production trends which are environmentally sustainable in the communities where they live.

The Government of Sweden has allocated an additional 2.3 billion Uganda Shillings to FAO as part of their Climate Resilience Livelihood Opportunities for Women Empowerment programme in order to implement the Green Schools Initiative. The fund will support FAO, the Government of Uganda and the Vision Group of Companies to create avenues for schools and students to learn and implement green actions in their schools and the communities in which they live.

“The Green Schools Initiative is an exciting programme as it works with young people who are the most vulnerable and yet also the most impactful for sustainability. About 77 per cent of Uganda’s population is under the age of 30, the majority of them being school-going children. While a number of policies and plans have been developed on environment and climate, there is still a need for engagement of this section of the population, without whom our effort for the sustainability of the planet will be difficult,” said Maria Håkansson, Sweden’s Ambassador to Uganda.

The GSI will provide training in environmental conservation and climate change, for teachers and students and organize regional and national climate change debates. The intervention will also include publishing of information and knowledge products on climate change and conducting radio shows and telecasts on climate change and environmental degradation.

“Schools can influence appropriate green actions that could save the environment, and increase adaptation and mitigation actions at school, community and national levels. Actions such as the use of improved biomass technologies, establishing woodlots for sustainable wood fuel supplies, switching to cleaner energy, waste recycling and re-use as well as engagement in the formulation of policies have the capacity to save on schools costs and make a huge difference towards a sustainable society,” said Ambassador Håkansson.
The GSI is part of the broader five-year Climate Resilient Livelihood Opportunities for Women Economic Empowerment (CRWEE) being implemented in Karamoja and West Nile districts of Uganda, with funding from the Government of Sweden through the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda. This project aims to strengthen the gender-responsive and climate-smart resilience of rural women who depend on agricultural production systems in the Karamoja and West Nile Regions.

To date, the CRWEE project has established five community irrigation systems in the West Nile sub-region, supported farmers in the multiplication of over 500 tonnes of drought tolerant and high-yielding seed, established 15 tree nurseries and propagated over 500 000 seedlings for farmers. In addition, 64 female-headed households have received Flexi-biogas units, over 100 acres of woodlots have been established, more than 400 households received their customary certificates of land ownership and more than 300 women received climate resilient and labor-saving technologies such as mushrooms, apiary, and cassava postharvest handling equipment. The project has also raised awareness of and trained 48 school youth clubs in climate-resilient approaches.

Speaking at the signing ceremony held at the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda, Antonio Querido- FAO Representative in Uganda recognized the need to work with young people because children and youth represent the future and can play a crucial role in combating climate change and conserving the environment.

“In order to achieve the nationwide campaign for climate change and environmental management, under this Green Schools Initiative, FAO will work with the Vision Group of Companies to implement the project in 150 schools across the country,” Querido said.
“By the end of the campaign, we hope to have created a critical mass of informed and resilient people in society that respond to climate change and environmental degradation,” he added.

In partnership with Vision Group, FAO will train over 600 teachers and 90 000 school children about environmental conservation and climate change, develop and publish science-based climate change education materials, document and popularize success stories from schools on conservation of natural resources, climate change adaptation, and mitigation practices, and recognize best schools through regional and national competitions.