CCE Country Profile
Table of Contents
We encourage countries to give input on the profiles to assist us in keeping them accurate and up to date. Please contact the GEM Report (education.profiles(at)unesco.org) or the MECCE Project (mecce.info(at)usask.ca) to give input. The country profiles are also available on the GEM Report’s Profiles Enhancing Education Reviews (PEER) website at education-profiles.org.
This profile has been reviewed by country experts.
I) Climate change context
India has a federated governance system, in which its 28 states and 8 union territories (hereinafter referred to as ‘states’) influence the development of climate change communication and education initiatives. The country’s constitutional mandate to protect the environment lies with the states. The states are also responsible for implementing climate policy implementation and achieving national targets. This country profile provides information on India’s approach to mainstreaming climate change communication and education on a national level. It gives examples of state-level initiatives only when relevant and reported by the country in its official communications.
The World Bank reports that with India’s vast and growing population of 1.3 billion, diverse geography, social vulnerability, and an economy heavily reliant on agricultural industry, the country is vulnerable to climate change risks such as floods, storms, epidemics, extreme temperatures, landslides, and droughts. The country carries the additional responsibility of meeting the development needs and economic progress expectations of its large population while building climate resilience and reducing the country’s vulnerabilities. The World Bank states that India’s agriculture, water resources, coastal economies, and health sectors are the most vulnerable to climate change.
India lies in South Asia with an area of approximately 3 million km² and a coastline of about 7,000 km long (World Bank). The Global Carbon Atlas states that India had annual emissions of 1.8 t CO2 per person in 2020, ranking as a low-emitting country. The 2nd National Communication (2012) reports that the country’s highest emitting sector is the energy sector, with fossil fuel combustion producing the most greenhouse gas emissions.
India is a Non-Annex I (non-industrialized) country and signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, ratifying it in 1993. India ratified its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 and signed and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016. India ratified the Doha Amendment in 2017.
II) Relevant government agencies
Most of India’s plans, laws, and policies are initiated at the national level. The central government of India provides guidelines and frameworks to the states, which then adapt them based on local needs and priorities at the state level as part of policy implementation. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change hosts the country’s UNFCCC Focal point as well as the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point.
The central government takes initial responsibility for setting up India’s climate change agenda, formulating policies, and guiding tailored implementation at the state level. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal agency of the central government responsible for planning and overseeing environment and climate change issues. The Ministry also facilitates all activities related to India’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and related reporting processes. The Climate Change Division of the Ministry looks after issues related to international climate change negotiations, including discussions on the Action for Climate Empowerment agenda and related domestic policies and actions. The Division is also responsible for submitting National Communications and Biennial Update Reports as part of the reporting mechanism under the UNFCCC.
The National Clean Development Mechanism Authority works is responsible for approving projects and evaluating sustainable development initiatives. The central government appointed the Authority to protect and improve the quality of the environment under India’s commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.
The National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj supervises the Centre for Climate Change and Disaster Management Disaster Mitigation, which oversees four mandates: 1) developing disaster risk reduction strategies, 2) managing community-based disasters, 3) assessing the impacts of climate change on agriculture and other industries, and 4) developing climate-resilient and adaptive strategies in agriculture.
The Climate Change Cell of the Ministry of Jal Shakti Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, established under the National Water Mission, undertakes research and development as well as demonstration projects on climate change and water. A similar division is set up under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, but little information is available in the public domain.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development is the national implementing entity responsible for funding climate adaptation projects, based on the needs and priorities identified in the eight missions of the National Action Plan for Climate Change (2008), the Nationally Determined Contributions (2015), and the State Action Plans on Climate Change. The National Bank also has a Center for Climate Change which is engaged in building human capacity to address climate change through awareness raising, knowledge sharing, capacity building etc.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is responsible for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in India. The 3rd Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC (2021) reports that this Ministry has developed a monitoring framework called the National Indicator Framework on SDGs. The Ministry shares this resource with the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, which is responsible for SDG reporting in India. The National Indicator Framework is based on first identifying national priorities and needs to achieve SDGs, then consulting with stakeholders. The National Indicator Framework is used by the National Institution to develop the SDG India Index.
Within the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Department of Science and Technology supports initiatives and programs focused on climate change. The Indian Meteorological Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology is the principal agency in all matters related to meteorology and allied subjects. It provides forecasts and early warnings, especially for severe weather phenomena such as cyclones, heavy rains, and heat and cold waves.
The Climate Change Finance Unit of the Ministry of Finance serves as the nodal point on all climate finance-related matters, participates in the multilateral discourse on climate finance issues, and provides analytical inputs for the national climate policy frameworks.
According to the 2nd National Communication (2012), the Government of India has developed three major institutional mechanisms to streamline the country’s response to climate change: 1) the Inter-Ministerial and Inter-agency Consultative Mechanism, 2) the Expert Committee on Impacts of Climate Change, and 3) the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change (2007). The Council is headed by the Prime Minister and guides the country’s approaches to climate change. The Council includes representation from national ministries, industry, academia, and civil society and is instrumental in preparing national climate change policies. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Council’s mandate is to: “(a) prepare a coordinated response to issues relating to climate change (mitigation and adaptation) at the national level; (b) provide oversight for the formulation of action plans in the area of assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate change; and (c) periodically monitor key policy decisions.” (n.d.). This Council was officially reconstituted in 2014, but it is unclear to what extent it continues to function.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education is the main education agency in the central government, responsible for formulating the National Policy on Education and its implementation. It manages the Department of School Education and Literacy and the Department of Higher Education.
Early childhood education comes under the purview of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, a nodal Ministry for the advancement of women and children in the country.
The Central Advisory Board of Education is the highest body advising the central and state governments in education, and it provides suggestions to educational institutions in preparing their syllabi. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) assists and advises the central and state governments on policies and programs for quality improvement in school education. The Council provides technical assistance to schools by developing syllabi and textbooks. It also enforces many education policies.
Three main boards officially govern India’s formal education system: the Central Board of Secondary Education, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, and the International Baccalaureate. Their approaches to pedagogy and their syllabi differ. The central boards provide an overall national framework and guidelines. Almost all states in India have their own state education department that formulates their state-specific policies and programs, determines their own curriculum, and conducts board exams for classes 10 and 12. At the time of this review, India had 52 sanctioned state boards.
The All India Council for Technical Education is responsible for management of technical education in the country and serves as a national-level apex body for advisory to conduct surveys on the technical education facilities. It also works as a statutory authority for planning, formulation, and maintenance of norms & standards and believes in including environment conservation at all levels of decision making through its environment policy.
The National Council for Vocational Education and Training is managed by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The Council states that it is responsible for “the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training, both long & short-term, and establishing minimum standards for the functioning of such entities” (n.p.).
The University Grants Commission is responsible for determining, coordinating, and maintaining university education standards in India and disseminating funds.
III) Relevant laws, policies, and plans
India’s climate laws and policies are rooted in raising environmental awareness and protecting natural resources and the environment. Article 51A(g) of the Constitution of India (1976) speaks about every citizen’s responsibility to protect the environment, stating that “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (2005) provides significant pathways for local communities to access social and job security and adaptation to climate change.
Several government policies and communication documents outline India’s climate plans. The National Environment Policy (2006) promotes capacity building, training, and public access to information. The Policy recognizes the importance of environmental education in raising awareness, which is essential for environmental protection. The Policy states that scientifically valid, environment-based content must be included in formal curricula at primary, secondary, tertiary, and professional levels.
The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008. The Plan outlines eight missions, which focus on solar power, enhanced energy efficiency, sustainable habitats, water, sustainability of the Himalayan ecosystem, sustainable agriculture, knowledge of climate change, and working toward a green India. No update on the progress of this Plan was available at the time of this review, although it is still referred to and used by several ministries.
The Climate Change Action Programme is a centrally sponsored umbrella scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change. The Programme builds and strengthens capacity for climate change assessment, establishing appropriate institutional frameworks and implementing climate-related actions in the context of sustainable development at central government and state levels. A total of USD$ 286 million has been released for initiatives under the Programme to build capacity in states including Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, and Telangana, and for two demonstration projects in Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.
In 2009, the central government directed all of India’s states and union territories to develop individual State Action Plans on Climate Change, as a decentralization mechanism and in line with the National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) objectives to address state-specific climate issues. State Action Plans have been prepared by 32 of India’s 36 states, although the central government’s directive fixed no timeline for their completion. The priorities of each state government strongly influence these State Action Plans, allow development of strategies that respond to local climate vulnerabilities, and facilitate more localized participation in climate change-related activities. The State Action Plans shape significant synergies with the National Action Plan. Most State Action Plans enrich the central government’s climate change policy by feeding local and regional experiences, needs, and solutions into the overall approach to climate change at the national level. Many states outline a separate budget for climate change-related activities. The following examples illustrate state strategies to increase climate change-centric knowledge.
Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India and the first state with a climate change authority, launched a State Action Plan on Climate Change in 2014 to address climate change education gaps through public awareness. Building awareness is mainly proposed through state-level mass media platforms, including radio and television, and through building the capacity of key government stakeholders to better understand climate change dynamics. Climate change education is mentioned as a cross-cutting topic to enhance understanding of conservation, Indigenous and sustainable practices, and low-carbon lifestyles.
The State Action Plan on Climate Change (2009) of Delhi, the capital of India, includes climate education in the context of nature conservation and agricultural practices, and through public awareness on pollution-related matters, especially water pollution. The Plan reiterates that “Public Awareness and Community Outreach programs are essential to communicate with the public about climate change and its affects” (p. 142). Communication uses print, social and electronic media, school education programs, early warning systems, and alerts, among others.
Gujarat, the state with the most extended seashore in the country, has formulated a comprehensive Gujarat State Action Plan on Climate Change (2014) that integrates climate change into the school curriculum. The Plan establishes research and education centers to support climate change adaptation and mitigation. Gujarat was also the first and only state in India, the first in Asia, and the fourth in the world to set up its own Climate Change Department in 2009.
Kerala, the state with the highest literacy rate, plans to provide training and build farmers’ capacity on adaptation measures for sustainable approaches to farming through the Kerala State Action Plan for Climate Change (2014). The Plan also focuses on developing biodiversity conservation resources for students, although it does not outline a separate budget allocation for climate change-related education.
Education and communication
Environmental education is compulsory by the directive of the Supreme Court of India. The directive’s application and implementation is overseen by the National Council of Educational Research and Training, an autonomous organization responsible for formal education in India. Based on the Constitution of India, the State has to “take measures to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.”(Article 48A). Protection and improvement of “the natural environment including forest, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures” are fundamental duties of every citizen (Article 51A(g)). Education is the primary means to achieve environmental protection. Recognition of the core role of environmental education began with the National Policy of Education (1986; modified in 1992), which stated that protection of the environment was a common core around which a National Curriculum Framework would be created.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training has published formal syllabi for primary and secondary education that explore environmental topics and material, including climate change. Integration of environmental education in the Indian education system, including climate change education, is reflected in the following frameworks and policies.
The National Curriculum Framework (2005) identifies environmental education, under the Habitat and Learning curriculum area, as a key component across all levels of schooling. The Framework emphasizes the importance of “infusing the components of environmental education as part of different disciplines while ensuring that adequate time is earmarked for pertinent activities” (p. 64). The Framework does not explicitly refer to climate change as an element of environmental education, although topics such as pollution and global warming are covered. The country’s updated National Curriculum Framework was under development at the time of this review.
The National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (2009), developed in accordance with the National Curriculum Framework (2005), recognizes teachers as a critical component of the learning conditions essential to achieve education goals and address environmental education from the perspective of human rights. However, climate change is not discussed in the Teacher Education Framework.
The National Education Policy (2020) notes explicitly that climate change is an integral part of environmental education. The Policy acknowledges the effects of climate change and calls for new skilled labor, particularly in biology, climate science, and agriculture. The Policy also states that environmental education, encompassing climate change education, are expected to be taught by all higher education institutions.
The Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) is a comprehensive umbrella scheme which is aimed to improve the quality of education through infusion of quality and excellence in teachers and teaching programs. The scheme addresses issues related to teachers, teaching, teacher preparation, professional development, curriculum design, designing and developing assessment and evaluation methodology, research in pedagogy and developing effective pedagogy.
IV) Terminology used for climate communication and education
India’s climate change communication and education landscape is focused on raising public awareness about climate change and stresses providing access to environmental and sustainable development education.
The National Curriculum Framework (2005) explores the importance of ‘environmental education’ within the curriculum area of Habitat and Learning and integrates discussion of ‘environmental degradation’ and ‘conservation.’ The urgency for action is recognized in the Framework: “…as environmental degradation…proceeds at an unprecedented pace, we are beginning to realize the importance of taking good care of our habitat” (p. 64). However, ‘climate change’ is not explicitly mentioned in the Framework.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training published a National Focus Group Paper on ‘Habitat and Learning’ in 2006. The document references ‘environment’ and ‘nature’ multiple times by exploring the significance of ways to ‘observe nature’ and study environmental degradation in education.
The National Education Policy (2020) proposes revisions to education structure (including its regulation and governance) and addresses ‘climate change’ as one emerging issue. Climate change is included alongside pollution and waste management within environmental education, which is an integral part of India’s school curricula. The Policy also refers to ‘sustainable development and living’ (p. 37) in the context of India’s culture and traditional lifestyles. The Policy is defined as achieving India’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 4.
‘Environmental education’ is repeatedly referred to in the 2nd National Communication (2012) to the UNFCCC, including as a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for “enhancing the understanding of people at all levels about the relationship between human beings and the environment and to develop capabilities/skills to improve and protect the environment” (p. 224). In the 2nd National Communication, UNFCCC’s Action for Climate Empowerment terms are emphasized, such as ‘capacity building,’ ‘public awareness,’ and ‘public participation.’
In its Nationally Determined Contributions (2015), India also included Action for Climate Empowerment terms such as ‘capacity building’ in terms of knowledge creation and ‘training’ in terms of managing climate change and developing skills in sectors that include sustainable development.
V) Budget for climate communication and education
The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the country’s financial rules and regulations and oversees funding allocation to all Ministries and offices of the Government of India. Its Climate Change Finance Unit is a focal point for all financial matters related to climate change.
India spent just 3.1% of its gross domestic product on education in 2019/20, less than the 6% recommended by previous and current education policies. A news article states that the budget for environmental education, awareness, and training was also reduced from USD$ 10.2 million in 2021/22 to USD $7.6 million in 2022/23. Although climate action took center stage in the country’s budget for 2022/23, the amount directed toward climate change education is not specified.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is the national implementing entity for climate adaptation, based on the objectives listed in the national and state action plans on climate change.
The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change was launched by the National Bank in 2015 to meet costs of adapting to climate change for state and Union territories that are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change. As per India’s latest Biennial Update Report (2021), the Fund’s allocation up to March 2020 was US$ 64 million. To date, 30 projects have been approved under the Fund, for a total of US$ 114 million. These projects have largely focused on climate-resilient agriculture, water management, climate-smart infrastructure, and eco-village concepts. The Fund prioritizes climate resilience projects, mostly those seeking to increase adaptive capacity within the agricultural sector and other areas identified in the National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) and subsequent State Action Plans on Climate Change. For example, the Fund financed development of ‘climate-smart villages’ (n.d, n.p) in Madhya Pradesh and building of climate resilience in rural areas of many states through crop residue management. India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (2015) requires that 2.5% of the salary budget from the National Training Policy is to be used for training in climate change and sustainable development issues and capacity building initiatives, with additional support by international funding.
The Green Climate Fund, established for developing countries to help vulnerable societies adapt to impacts of climate change, has funded four projects worth USD$ 314.8 million in India. These projects mainly focus on credit mechanisms, resilience of coastal communities, and food security.
According to the 2nd Biennial Update Report of 2018, a flexible fund was created to allocate a specific share of all centrally sponsored projects for facilitating disaster resilience capacities. Disaster education has also been integrated into environmental education.
CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE COUNTRY
I) Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
The National Curriculum Framework (2005) was developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training and is a guide for syllabi, textbooks, and pedagogy to influence curricula across India’s numerous education boards. The Framework includes curriculum themes across the pre-primary, primary, and secondary years of schooling. It focuses largely on the issue of environmental degradation and does not directly address climate change. It equates environmental education with the topic of Habitat and Learning, focusing on reconnecting with and “taking good care” of habitat in the face of environmental degradation (p. 64). The Framework emphasizes that integrating environmental education across different subjects and learning levels and provides examples of how to do this. These include tracking declining rainfall patterns over time (Mathematics) and exploring endangered species (Biology).
The National Curriculum Framework (2005) also recommends introducing project-based learning through connecting with Panchayati Raj institutions (local self-formed governments in rural areas) to create a knowledge base for managing and regenerating environmental resources. Since 2005, plans such as the National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) and National Environment Policy (2006) have been enacted to demonstrate the importance of local governance in enhancing environmental and climate change-related education and awareness. Formal climate change education is not directly addressed in the National Action Plan. However, the National Environment Policy does require environmental content to be integrated into education and for it to be imparted at primary, secondary, and tertiary educational levels. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
The 2006 National Council on Education Research and Training syllabus at the primary level includes Environmental Studies as an integrated curricular area, in line with the National Curriculum Framework‘s approach of including environment-related topics across various subjects. The Social Science Syllabus for grades 6 to 8 contains a brief analysis of environment-related concepts and climate. Climate change concepts are included in the National Council curriculum or textbooks for Social Sciences/Geography for grades 7, and 11.. Climate-related topics such as global warming and the greenhouse gas effect are included in the Science textbooks for grades 8 and 9. The 10th grade Syllabus for Science includes a study of the causes of environmental degradation through an analysis of ozone depletion, and focuses on environmental awareness. Conservation and protection of natural resources and sustainability are also included in the syllabus. The 11th grade Geography Syllabus includes some detailed exploration of climate change, such as a brief exploration of “climatic change” under a World Climates topic (p. 103). The greenhouse gas effect and global warming are also briefly mentioned. The National Council curriculum also includes environmental and natural resources topics under Civics for grades 5 to 8t, as defined by the Council’s National Focus Group paper, Habitat and Learning (2006).
Some specific progress is also found at the state level. For instance, students in Maharashtra will start learning through Majhi Vasundhara (My Earth), the first climate change school curriculum introduced at the state level. This curriculum of more than 100 lessons aims to inculcate “green habits” and to shrink the carbon footprint of students’ households through behavior changes such as switching off lights and adopting solar power. The curriculum was developed by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, the Government of Maharashtra, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Students in grades 1 through 8 will study energy, air, pollution, and climate along with topics such as biodiversity conservation, solid waste management, and water resources management.
The National Green Corps program was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in 2001/2 to create environmental awareness among children across India. The program supports students in forming an ‘eco-club’ in their schools to undertake activities to raise environmental awareness on climate change, waste management, and energy conservation. Designated nodal agencies across states implement the National Green Corps’ eco-club program and provide an annual monetary grant to each eco-club. Activities such as waste segregation, tree planting, cleanliness drives, and celebrating important environmental days promote environmental education.
Many non-profit organizations are also spearheading climate change education in India. This is emphasized in the 2nd National Communication (2012), which highlights the importance of addressing this long-term challenge through local education, mainly through non-profit organizations. For example, the Centre for Environmental Research and Education introduced Schools on Solar in 2018 to provide environmental and climate change mitigation education to students in secondary and higher education institutions. The project installs solar panels in schools and colleges while students watch an educational module on solar power. Students are encouraged to become ‘solar ambassadors’ and promote environmental awareness. The program is designed to be self-sustaining, with minimal subsequent involvement from the Centre.
The Centre for Environment Education (CEE) is a Centre of Excellence on Environmental Education established by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. This Centre’s climate change program focuses on climate literacy, knowledge exchange, public awareness, and participation, recognizing education as an essential enabler to enhance climate action. With a mandate to spread environmental awareness nationwide, the Centre spearheads programs that further environmental education, sustainable development, and climate change awareness in multiple states across India. The Centre offers a range of programs, including Paryavaran Mitra (Friend of Environment) and the Eco-Schools Program. These nationwide initiatives allow students and teachers to create a network of people with the awareness, knowledge, commitment, and potential to meet the challenges of environmental sustainability in their spheres of influence, through classroom study, school, and community action. An example of an Eco-Schools project is the Eco-Schools Waste Management Programme (August 2020 to February 2021), which offered student access to sustainable waste management practices and teacher training on pedagogy related to sustainability education.
The country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (2015) reiterates the significance of launching a “global education program” that prepares the next generations to conserve and protect the environment (p. 33).
II) Climate change in teacher training and teacher resources
In India, policies for teacher training suggest focusing on environmental education and building teachers’ capacity to engage with children on issues of the environment. The National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (2009) states that teachers must “emphasize the environment and its protection, living in harmony within oneself and with the natural and social environment” (p. 21). This Framework defines pedagogical methods for environmental studies and proposes engagement in research in environmental education. The National Curriculum Framework (2005) advises that educators engage in professional development on environmental education through remote learning, courses, and nature camps.
India has a Teachers Training Program on Climate Change, offered since 2010 by an independent trust, the Climate Project Foundation. The program is delivered country-wide in urban and rural schools through digital training, to disseminate information on climate change. It helps teachers educate students to reduce the severity of future climate change and build resilience. The training module covers science, impacts, and climate change solutions, moving toward a sustainable future. The program has trained over 7000 teachers from 500+ schools to discuss climate change with students and their communities.
The Techno India Group Public Schools and Y-East partnered with the Climate Reality Project India to conduct a series of three Teachers Training Workshops on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in 2021, training more than 300 teachers affiliated with a group of schools.
The Climate Reality Project also hosted a Principal’s Conclave on teaching sustainable development goals and climate change education for a safer planet. The Conclave was conducted for the state of Odisha, adopting a top-down approach to train the heads of institutions, conducted workshops with the help of climate leaders. Forty principals and teachers from public and private schools in Orissa attended the Conclave.
Teacher training on climate change was organized by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 2017 for teachers from 20 selected government schools across 51 districts of the state. The training program objectives were to enhance awareness and technical knowledge of climate change, equip teachers with resource materials, and disseminate climate change workbooks among students. The program has trained 854 teachers in 22 sessions.
The National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement learning modules for the elementary stage include environmental science concerns related to environmental protection. The Initiative’s learning modules have already been completed offline and online by 42 lakh teachers. As part of the Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (2019), the National Resource Centre on Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, presented several educational resources through the Swayam Prabha TV channels hosted on the PM eVidya platform. These include issues on climate change. In-service capacity building programs for teachers are also conducted by the National Council on Education Research and Training syllabus under the Annual Refresher Program.
The Green Teacher Program is a part-time distance education program that grants a one-year diploma. It was established by the Centre for Environment Education and Commonwealth of Learning (an intergovernmental organization hosted by the Government of Canada). The Program includes a Learners Handbook, four Self-Learning Modules, and two essential readings as resources. Teachers and educators study concepts related to environment and development through four modules: Life Support Systems and Basics of Ecology, Understanding Sustainable Development, Environmental Education in Schools, and Resources and Opportunities for Environmental Education. Over 700 teachers have completed the program.
The Centre for Environmental Education also offers the Paryavaran Mitra Programme (‘Friend of Environment’) for teachers of all subjects. This teacher-led program aims to build environmental leadership among students in grades 6 to 8 through positive behavior change. The program provides basic resources in a teacher’s handbook to facilitate the program’s implementation at the school level. Under this program, teachers are equipped with background information, class activities from four themes (Water and Sanitation, Energy Waste Management, Biodiversity and Greening, Culture and Heritage), ideas for projects beyond the classroom, and ideas for becoming a Paryavaran Mitra school.
India also has networks to support educators to engage and interact with each other on environmental and climate change education. The Centre for Science and Environment launched the university-based Green Educators’ Network in 2016 to bring environmental educators and students together. The Network of 500 educators undertakes multiple initiatives such as newsletters and knowledge forums to enhance teachers’ environmental knowledge, including climate knowledge.
India’s 2nd National Communication (2012) states that teacher training is crucial to knowledge production in the country. The Communication describes the implementation of workshops to increase climate risk awareness and mitigation in the many states of India. It mentions teacher training workshops on disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation being conducted to groom teachers as ‘Green Ustads’ (Green Crusaders).
III) Climate change in higher education
India’s National Education Policy (2020) emphasizes integrating environmental awareness and knowledge about conservation of natural resources and sustainable development into higher education. The Policy outlines an objective for higher education institutions to offer multidisciplinary and holistic education via flexible curricula. Curricula at higher education institutions can include environmental education (including climate education), value-based education, community engagement, and service through credit-based courses and projects.
Higher education institutions in India, including those teaching environmental science, climate change, and related disciplines, follow the University Grants Commission guidelines for developing curricula and pedagogy, resource allocation, and other institutional mechanisms. In 2019, the Commission instructed its 1400 affiliated universities and colleges to implement a six-course module on Environmental Studies in undergraduate courses within all streams of higher education, in accordance with a Supreme Court Directive (1999). A news article (2019) indicates that while the Environmental Studies course is regarded as mandatory, implementation in universities and colleges across India remains sporadic. In the course, students learn the laws, acts, and organizations relevant to environmental studies. Students also study climate change concepts such as vulnerability and adaptation.
The University Grants Commission also encourages community engagement through approval of existing courses teaching classroom theory and fieldwork on rural development, with the involvement of Panchayati Raj (locally elected governance bodies in rural communities). Recommended practices include raising awareness about the impacts of climate change and community disaster preparedness in local communities.
Textbooks approved by the Commission include the effects of climate change, mitigation, adaptation, and the principles of awareness and participation. Finally, the University Grants Commission developed a curriculum for a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree in Geography, consisting of detailed knowledge related to climate change (both physical and social sciences).
Several higher education institutions in India have developed climate change programs. The Management Education Centre on Climate Change, established in 2008 in partnership with Gujarat University and spearheaded by the Centre for Environment Education, offers a Master of Science degree in Climate Change Impact Management on the Gujarat University campus. This degree focuses on climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as sustainable development. The Energy Resources Institute, School of Advanced Studies in New Delhi also runs a two-year Master’s Course on Climate Science and Policy, focusing on the science of climate change and establishing policy links. The Mumbai Tata Institute of Social Sciences offers Master of Arts and Science programs in Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability Studies, covering topics such as global governance, vulnerability, and adaptation. Indira Gandhi National Open University, which offers high-quality Open and Distance Learning courses across the country, runs a six-month post-graduate certificate course on Climate Change. The Energy Research Institute School of Advanced Studies, based in Delhi, offers a Master’s level course on Climate Science and Policy.
IV) Climate change in training and adult learning
The Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) sector in India enhances student and youth employability through its integration into the formal education system. India is furthering environmentally aware practices in TVET to prepare for massive job creation in new green sectors.
The National Education Policy (2020) recommends that, in agriculture, India provides “developing professionals with the ability to understand and use local knowledge, traditional knowledge, and emerging technologies while being cognizant of critical issues such as declining land productivity, climate change…” (p. 50). The Policy calls for enhancing technical skills and adding more skills for a better workforce. Climate change is mentioned primarily within an agricultural context.
In 2015, the Indian government launched Skill India (the National Skill Development Mission), to provide skill training in many sectors on topics such as sustainable development. The Mission identifies ‘sustainable livelihoods’ as one of its high-priority areas, which aims to provide opportunities for workers in their sectors.
In 2017 the National Skills Development Corporation, a non-profit public company, developed Green TVET, collaborating with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Green TVET acts as a practical guide for institutions by emphasizing the global sustainability agenda and exploring the implications of green transitions to occupations and training: developing standards and curricula, assessing skills, and anticipating skills demand. The initiative focused on ‘greening’ skills development in fields such as energy. It examines approaches to TVET curricula to support transitions toward environmentally friendly practices while increasing profitability of enterprises. One example is in the curriculum for Electrical Installation Technicians, which identifies the changes occurring in this field due to climate change and the greening of the economy.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) offers training programmes on climate change and related topics, in partnership with academic institutions and civil society organizations for multiple stakeholders. For example, in 2019 a DST training was organized ‘The Science of Climate change and low carbon development strategies’ for scientists and technologists in partnership with The Energy Resources Institute.
The National Mission for Green India is part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) and developed jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The program plants trees in the country and empowers the local community.
India’s 2nd National Communication (2012) examines programs enacted by the government related to climate change. The Department of Science and Technology launched two programs, the Monsoon and Tropical Climate Program and the Indian Climate Research Program, focusing on atmospheric science research. For these programs, the Department organized training and workshops to strengthen the capacity of personnel involved in climate change assessment. The Department conducted workshops for the assessment agencies and helped develop skills, including dynamic simulation modeling of crop-weather interactions and land surface process experiments.
CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION IN THE COUNTRY
I) Climate change and public awareness
The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, one of the eight missions outlined under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008), recommends increasing national capacity and awareness of key climate processes. The Mission also recommends building human and institutional capacity through establishing centers devoted to increasing climate change knowledge nationally. The 2nd National Communication (2012) states that “Awareness generation and information dissemination are two important aspects for climate change initiatives in India.” (p. 276). Many public awareness campaigns in India related to climate change result from collaboration between government agencies and non-profit organizations.
India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change manages two long-running awareness campaigns. Both campaigns focus more broadly on environmental issues but incorporate climate change issues within their work. The National Environment Awareness Campaign was initiated in 1986 with the objective of “creating environmental awareness at the national level” by providing funding for civil society, government, and educational institutions for activities to raise environmental awareness. In 2001/02, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change developed the National Green Corps program to “sensitize children to issues related to environment and development through field visits and demonstrations.”(n.p.). The Green Corps program develops and funds eco-clubs in schools, with over 100,000 schools across India involved. Through the program’s eco-clubs, the Green Good Deeds initiative was implemented in 2018 to promote environmental awareness and mobilize people’s participation in environmental conservation.
The Government of India conducted the first phase of a national program called the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) from 2014 to 2019. This program involved massive public awareness of solid waste management with inter-linkages to climate action. Although the campaign did not specifically focus on climate change, it addressed behavior change issues by generating widespread awareness on litter management, leading to individual and community actions.
The 2018 2nd Biennial Update Report calls Science Express an innovative mobile science exhibition. The Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, mounted the Science Express exhibition on a 16-coach train that has been running across the country since 2007. The exhibition has completed nine phases: four phases of ‘Science Express,’ three phases of ‘Biodiversity Special,’ and two phases of ‘Climate Action Special,’ traveling more than 160,800 km and reaching out to more than 20 million people in two phases of ‘Climate Action Special’. It is a unique collaborative initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Railways, and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, offered in partnership with Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre, the Centre for Environment Education, and the Wildlife Institute of India. The basic objective of Climate Action Special was to enhance understanding of climate change science, its impacts, and possible responses. Science Express has been recognized as the longest-running mobile science exhibition with the largest climate change awareness program, with 15.6 million visitors in 2017.
The National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development initiated a major campaign in 2017, reaching out to 100,000 villages across 200 districts to create awareness of climate change and better water conservation strategies and to educate rural communities on the need for conservation, preservation, and efficient use of water resources. The Bank partnered with the Centre for Environment Education, the World Resources Institute, and several local non-governmental organizations.
Not-for-profit organizations play an important role in raising public awareness of climate change by stakeholder groups in India, including youth, women, and marginalized communities. For example, the Climate Change Research Institute offers lecture series’ and workshops to raise awareness of climate change education by youth in schools and colleges.
Universities in India contribute to studies and development of methods to strengthen public awareness of climate change. For example, researchers from Anna University developed a holistic methodological framework for promoting education and public awareness of climate change at individual, local, regional, and national levels. They partnered with the Tamil Nadu State Climate Change Cell to base their framework on interventions in the Tamil Nadu state.
India’s third Biennial Update Report (2021) describes several educational initiatives led by civil society organizations, focusing on environmental awareness among school children. The Green Schools Programme is led by the Centre for Science and Environment, the Go Green Kids initiative is led by Green Yatra, and several climate change awareness youth competitions at the 2020 Youth Climate Conclave were organized by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change and partner organizations. The Green Schools Programme is an environmental education program aimed at sensitizing students to the environment through hands-on and thought-provoking activities like resource audits. The Update Report also mentions Jal Shakti Abhiyan, a 2019 campaign that focused on water conservation and water resource management through extensive communication. More than 100 million students across the country joined the campaign to save 36,500 million liters of water every year. Most awareness programs mentioned in government-led Update Reports cover cross-cutting topics like water or waste. They do not specifically focus on building knowledge related to climate change.
At the Youth Climate Conclave (2020), youth from across the country participated in a series of events, a photography contest, and a blog competition. This Conclave was jointly organized by the European Union, the German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Energy and Research Institute, the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to increase awareness of climate change issues. The final event of the Conclave simulated a Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Participants took the roles of negotiators from major counties to negotiate climate policies on achieving the Paris Agreement goals.
To create awareness among rural communities about water conservation and efficient water technologies, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development launched a major education and communication campaign called Jal Jivan Hai or Water for Life, in partnership with the Centre for Environment Education. The campaign designed and developed educational material to promote public awareness of the need for water conservation. Through a cascading approach, more than 200 Master Trainers identified by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development first received training. They then trained a cadre of over 8,000 youth, called Krishi Jal Doots, as campaign facilitators and implementers at the local level. These youth received a kit containing educational resource materials to conduct a ‘day in a village’ campaign module, and a detailed manual on running the campaign. The campaign reached out to over 100,000 villages across 21 states.
The Climate Reality Project India has launched the Climate Youth Leadership Program, which supports students to create awareness about climate change, mainly around local issues. The program highlights the science and impacts of climate change and the solutions to climate change.
India’s Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2022) lists as one of the key actions to “propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change“ (p. 1).
II) Climate change and public access to information
India’s primary way to ensure public access to information is through government agencies such as the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
India’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal is a single-point information source on climate change launched in 2020 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The web portal reports India’s emissions profile, policies, and research. It captures sector-wide adaptation and mitigation actions being undertaken across India to help disseminate knowledge among citizens about climate change issues and responses.
Another open-source portal is the Environmental Information Systems, a web-enabled comprehensive system managed by the Ministry to provide relevant information and data on climate change-related and other environmental activities and issues. Themes covered in the portal include environmental education, ecology, eco-friendly products, and sustainable development. India has 69 virtual centers for the Environmental Information System that function as a dynamic network from which the public, institutions, and ministries can rapidly access information.
Under the National Action Plan for Climate Change (2008), the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture aims to build a climate-resilient agricultural system through research and development, facilitation of access to information, and capacity building targeted toward farming communities. The Mission is undertaking expansion of prediction systems to enable access to information and training and demonstrations on soil management.
The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, under the National Action Plan for Climate Change (2008), indicates the need to create “knowledge networks among the existing knowledge institutions engaged in research and development relating to climate science and facilitate data sharing and exchange through a suitable policy framework and institutional support.” (n.d., n.p.).
III) Climate change and public participation
Public participation in India is part of the central and state policy development processes, mostly in the form of stakeholder consultations at national and regional levels. For instance, stakeholder workshops with technical experts collected input on the draft National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) and in developing the State Action Plans on Climate Change (Dubash & Jogesh, 2014). India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (2015) mentions “informed and voluntary participation of all sections of the people” for preserving the environment and identifies that “awareness of people about emerging environmental issues is an essential prerequisite for such participation” (p. 224).
Public participation is also seen as a partnership approach with local communities during implementation of government strategies, programs, and projects. For example, India’s 2021 Biennial Update Report highlights the Green India Mission, which focuses on increasing forest cover and promoting sustainable livelihoods. This is a massive program implemented through participation of the community, farmers, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, education institutions, government agencies, and the Forest Department. The key features of the Mission are vulnerability assessment, bottom-up planning, and local community participation.
Not-for-profit organizations play significant roles in facilitating participation of the public and other stakeholders in policy planning and implementation processes, especially at the grass-roots level, through conducting public and multi-stakeholder consultations on policies and plans. They submit recommendations from these stakeholder deliberations to the relevant local, state, or national government agencies for integration into specific policies. For instance, the Centre for Environment Education conducted a public consultation to facilitate a dialogue on implementing policies of the Green India Mission. To develop the Pune Bicycle Plan, two rounds of public consultations were conducted at the ward level. The first round in 2016 shared the context of the Plan with the cyclists’ groups, representatives from cycle shops, corporate groups promoting cycling, and non-cyclists. The second round sought public input on the preliminary draft of the Plan.
State-level examples of public participation include the Government of Gujarat’s community-managed drinking water supply program led by the Water and Sanitation Management Organization. The initiative brings together the community through Pani Samiti (local water committees) to manage, implement, operate, and maintain water supply schemes in villages in collaboration with non-governmental and international organizations. The program aspires to ensure equitable availability of safe drinking water to the community, particularly as climate change impacts the reliability of rainfall and river flows.
The Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group headed a community-led participation initiative in planning for climate change resilience in the city of Gorakhpur. Community-based institutions took part in assessing the ward-level vulnerabilities and risks. Outcomes of the assessment, carried out by the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, fed into shaping the city resilience strategy.
The India Environment Portal | Knowledge for Change includes further projects and documents to foster public participation.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
I) Country monitoring
India conducts national-level monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) primarily through the National Institute for Transforming India Aayog and through submission of periodic reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
In 2017, the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development compiled a report, Rethinking Schooling, on assessing SDG 4.7 in Asia. The report stated that India’s goal of focusing on sustainability as a concept through education was less emphasized in state-developed curricula than in schools implementing Central Board of Secondary Education syllabi.
The National Institution for Transforming India Aayog is a Government of India policy think tank that collaborates closely with the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation to coordinate and monitor achievement of the SDGs in India (India Voluntary National Review, 2020). The SDG India Index provides periodic monitoring. This is the world’s first government-led tool for SDG progress at the sub-national level. Updates on SDG 13 (climate action) in India are part of the Voluntary National Review (2020). It includes updates on disaster risk reduction and preparedness, but no reference to climate change education. However, capacity building interventions are an important way to improve disaster resilience and gender mainstreaming in sub-national plans. Progress on SDG 4 broadly includes teacher training programs and improved education outcomes, but there is no specific reporting on SDG 4.7 and sustainability education. The 2020 Progress Report on the SDG National Indicator Framework suggests that integration of climate change mitigation and adaptation in education curricula and outreach programs at the state level is underway. The progress made is “under compilation” by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
The German Agency for International Cooperation (2019) found that a standard climate monitoring framework does not exist at the national or state levels in India to track implementation of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) and State Action Plans on climate change. Although civil society and the research community have done assessment and situational monitoring to reflect on progress in these action plans, progress on climate change education has not been included. For example, the Centre for Science and Environment produced a 2018 analytical report on the National Action Plan on Climate Change. That report highlighted the uncertainty in progress of the eight missions under the Plan and that progress reports are only available for the Solar, Energy Efficiency, and Water missions. The Centre for Policy Research India conducted an assessment for the State Level Actions Plan on Climate Change in 2013.
II) MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the National Curriculum Framework (NCF; 2005) and the National Education Policy (ESP; 2020) for references to ‘climate change,’ the ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’ India is preparing to launch an updated National Curriculum Framework.
Figure 1 displays the distribution of key terms related to climate change in India’s Framework and Education Policy.
India’s National Curriculum Framework (NCF; 2005) does not include any mentions of the term ‘climate change.’
‘Environment’ is referenced 15 times in the Framework. ‘Biodiversity’ is mentioned 4 times, and ‘sustainability’ is mentioned 3 times.
In the National Education Policy (NEP; 2020), ‘climate change’ is mentioned 5 times, ‘environment’ is mentioned 33 times, ‘sustainability’ is mentioned 5 times, and ‘biodiversity’ is not mentioned.
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.
This profile was reviewed by:
Dr Rajiv Pandey, Scientist, Head Division of Forestry Statistics, Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education, India