The complexity of climate change requires a holistic approach, which UNESCO offers through its many years of expertise, which combines science, education, culture as well as communication and information.
While climate change is driven by global processes, the solutions to compensate for the negative effects of climate risks depend in particular on local conditions. UNESCO’s global network of designated sites (1,121 World Heritage Sites, 729 Biosphere Reserves and 169 Global Geoparks) offers local solutions for adaptation to climate change. By evaluating the effects of climate change, the designated locations are used on the one hand as climate observatories and on the other hand as pilot areas for targeted measures to adapt to climate change. They protect important ecosystems; For example, the 50 marine natural heritage sites (in 37 countries) account for 1/3 of all blue carbon resources on the planet, even though they make up less than 1 percent of the ocean’s surface. Biosphere reserves now cover more than 5% of the earth’s surface and serve as models for sustainable development and at the same time rebuild our relationship with nature.
Indigenous peoples are guardians of 80% of the world’s biodiversity and mobilize their in-depth knowledge of the areas that have formed their livelihood for generations in order to combat climate change. UNESCO’s Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) program promotes local and indigenous knowledge and its inclusion in global climate science and policy processes, including COP26.
Water is recognized as a climatic connector. UNESCO has developed tools to support climate-resilient water management, such as the African Flood and Drought Monitor, flood early warning systems, assessment tools and reporting. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Program has an ambitious plan to combine transdisciplinary scientific research with education and training for its sustainable management (Science for a Water Secure World in a Changing Environment, IHP-IX). At COP26, the results of the global UNESCO conference on climate-resilient water management approaches: Application Towards Climate Action and 2030 Agenda will be presented to show how new instruments and approaches for climate-resilient water management can be integrated into national climate protection plans.
The ocean plays an essential role in our climate – it absorbs a significant portion of the carbon and an overwhelming portion of the excess heat. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is at the forefront of new research priorities on the effects of climate change on the oceans, mitigating climate change through the maintenance and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems such as mangroves and salt marshes – the so-called “blue carbon” . â- and the ocean’s overall contribution to combating climate change. The IOC leads the UN Decade on the Exploration of the Sea for Sustainable Development, which is a great opportunity to promote ambitious climate action.
As part of COP26, UNESCO is organizing a conference of education and environment ministers, because education is an essential instrument for effective and sustainable climate protection. UNESCO supports countries in two ways in integrating climate change-related issues into their education systems:
- implement the educational components of the Climate Convention and the Paris Agreement and make climate protection a central part of the curriculum, and
- Policy support, technical advice and capacity development in support of the UN-Water Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6.
At the same time, UNESCO supports youth engagement through special networks and sets up the Youth-UNESCO Climate Action Network (YouU-CAN).