From my classroom to COP28: Testimonies from 5 finalists of the TeachersCOP

The third edition of the TeachersCOP, taking place within the framework of COP28, showcased the passionate voices and diverse initiatives of teachers from all corners of the globe. Organized by the Office for Climate Education (OCE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of the United Arab Emirates and Alef Education, supported by the French Development Agency (AFD), this global competition garnered substantial interest  with over 386 teachers, school principals, inspectors, and other educational stakeholders submitting projects on climate change education. Among this array of initiatives, 10 finalists stood out, selected to present their projects on December 10th at the first Education Pavilion within a COP, in front of an audience of over 750 participants, both online and on-site, engaging in 4 different languages.


Discover the testimonies of Paula, Isis, Judith, Esther, and Noor, the five international winners of the TeachersCOP who had the opportunity to come to Dubai. Their stories reveal the scope and importance of giving a voice to teachers and amplifying their projects among their peers, policymakers, and global decision-makers.


This moment was also marked by the launch of the Educators' Voice platform, an initiative aimed at providing teachers with resources and project examples to implement climate education in their classrooms. Diana Isis Gutierrez Flores, one of the award-winning teachers from Mexico, emphasizes: "I believe that project-based work is the best way for children to learn, to do it in a fun way, and to learn without realizing it." Isis's students built 27 biodigesters in their community. She adds: "This is very important because it allows children to understand what is happening in their context, but also to realize that what they do locally has a global impact, and that their actions in their community influence other parts of the world".


Judith Priam's project involved conducting long-term observations with her students on bird populations in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni in French Guiana, aiming to demonstrate the interconnections between climate change, food availability for birds, and necessary adaptations.

Esther Gacigi, a teacher from Kenya, initiated a project to build greenhouses and vertical gardens to enhance the food program within her school in Kwa Njenga, addressing the country's periods of drought.

The goal of Irish teacher Paula Galvin in her project Poetry for Climate Action and Justice has always followed a guiding principle: "I always say, when you're teaching children about the climate crisis, you need to engage the heart and the head and the hands." She chose to engage her students through literature, specifically through the creation of poems.


Finally, Noor Halini binti Alias, an English teacher in Malaysia, shares her students' eagerness to learn more about their surroundings: "I know that students (...) particularly appreciate outdoor projects, especially regarding climate change education." To fulfill this, she orchestrated a project to restore mangroves in the UNESCO Langkawi National Park, near her school.

These five projects reflect the diversity of educational approaches and the commitment of teachers to guide future generations in understanding and responding to global climate challenges.

The TeachersCOP, beyond being just a competition, emerges as a convergence point fostering fruitful exchanges and the formation of a true community of practices. Esther, among the winning teachers, emphasizes educators' responsibility regarding climate change and empowering students on this subject: “We, as educators, have a role to engage students, to turn this story around from anxiety to fear to hope. We can do something. We can implement a project and then listen to students' ideas. (...) It's about their ideas. They're very innovative. If you just prompt them to think, children are resourceful and they will lead unbelievable change. So listen to the learners, work together, support them. Just make it very hopeful and action-based, solutions-based.


Noor Halini was designated the winner of the 2023 edition by her peers, thus highlighting her remarkable commitment to climate change education. Let's conclude with a quote from her: "I hope all teachers out there can provide these opportunities. Students are eager and certainly capable, but as educators, it's our role to guide them and provide these chances."

Congratulations to all participants! Your projects embody pillars of the global climate response and serve as a true source of inspiration for teachers worldwide. Until next year...



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Office for Climate Education OCE