Climate Action for Lasting Peace: A reflection on the International Day of Peace - Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation

Climate Action for Lasting Peace: A reflection on the International Day of Peace

This week, climate leaders from business, government, and grassroots sectors across the globe gather in New York City for the 14th annual Climate Week NYC – hailed as “the biggest global climate event of its kind.” Designed to coincide with the annual United Nations General Assembly, Climate Week NYC is a call to action for world leaders to address our climate crisis with urgency.  

The week also converges with the UN’s International Day of Peace, with a theme this year to “End Racism. Build Peace.” The day is designated by the UN as a period of non-violence and cease-fire, however, lasting peace requires more than the absence of conflict.

Peace research scholar Johan Galtung distinguishes two types of peace – negative and positive peace. Where negative peace is defined by the absence of war and violence, positive peace is defined as a more lasting peace that is built on sustainable investments in economic development, as well as societal attitudes that foster peace and resilience. Negative peace might encourage us to set aside long simmering injustices and inequities in the name of civility, where positive peace challenges us to build more just institutions and inclusive cultures.

How can this concept of positive peace inform how we think about climate action? 

In our Education for Sustainability work at CELF, we apply a broad understanding of sustainability that includes addressing climate change and environmental degradation, fostering social equity, and promoting inclusive economies through student inquiry and action. This week’s convergence of events provides an opportunity to elevate discussions and strategies focused on climate justice and addressing environmental racism. The increasing frequency and severity of storms, drought, and wildfires are wreaking a disproportionate impact on poor and marginalized communities who have contributed the least to greenhouse emissions, laying the groundwork for potential future conflict. If we want to foster conditions for lasting peace, climate solutions must go further to center the voices of communities most impacted.

Below we share a sampling of education resources that can support educators in exploring peace education, climate justice, and traditional ecological knowledge concepts with learners:

Peacebuilding Toolkit for Educators (middle & high school), from United States Institute of Peace

Climate Justice Teaching Activities (K-12), from the Zinn Education Project

Negative and Positive Peace video (high school), from Goodwin Education

Needs and Wants Activity (grades 4-8), from the Center for Eco Literacy

Designing a Resilient Community (high school), from the Center for Eco Literacy

Human Rights Books for Children (PreK-K), compiled by Dr. Monisha Bajaj of the University of San Francisco 

Traditional Ecological Knowledge lessons (upper elementary-early middle), co-created by Dr. Seafha Ramos, Science Delivered, Cherie Paul, and Maximiliano Quezada

Peace One Day Education Resources (K-12 – includes resources on Peace & Sustainability, Climate Action), from Peace One Day

Global Peace Index (high school), from Vision of Humanity

Looking for K-12 resources for your classroom? Visit theCELF Resources Page
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