Integrating artificial intelligence in global environmental education: insights from COP28 and prospects at WEEC12

The recent COP28 held in Dubai has raised concerns within the environmental education community due to the absence of the term “education” in the discussions and strategies outlined. It is crucial that the concept of education be meaningfully integrated into global climate strategies, and the opportunity to do so presents itself tangibly at the 12th […]

The recent COP28 held in Dubai has raised concerns within the environmental education community due to the absence of the term “education” in the discussions and strategies outlined. It is crucial that the concept of education be meaningfully integrated into global climate strategies, and the opportunity to do so presents itself tangibly at the 12th World Congress on Environmental Education (WEEC12) to be held in Abu Dhabi.

In particular, special attention is sought for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the field of environmental education. The transformative potential of this technology in enhancing the effectiveness of global climate education is clearly evident. Events related to COP28 have preluded this discourse, highlighting the fundamental and innovative role of AI in making sustainability approaches accessible and engaging.

The debates arising from events connected to COP28 clearly demonstrate that AI can play a crucial role in making environmental knowledge more widespread and engaging. Collaboration between environmental education experts and technology developers can contribute to the development of innovative educational tools and resources that fully leverage the potential of AI.

WEEC12 represents a unique opportunity to place the central role of environmental education on the agenda, with a specific emphasis on the integration of Artificial Intelligence. Addressing this issue proactively and collaboratively could shape a more sustainable future, where environmental knowledge becomes a driving force in the global fight against climate change.

Join our network and become part of the conversation on COP28! Send your contributions to secretariat@weecnetwork.org and help shape the environmental dialogue.

COP28 reminds us all of the urgency to attend WEEC12 in Abu Dhabi!

by Dr. Costis Toregas, The George Washington University

Left – right: Gerry Cunningham (EAGLES 2030) , Pat Cummens (Esri), Sean Breyer (Esri), Lee Mallon (Humanity), Erwin Rose (US State Dept), Valerie Hawley (Sorbonne Univ.)

The text that emerged from the lengthy discussions during COP28 just concluded in Dubai was hotly debated, and engaged the participants in difficult discussions of what language to include and which to exclude… and for some in the Environmental Education (EE) community, it rang a warning bell!  A quick key word search revealed that the word “Education” did not appear even once!  Of course no one will argue that education should be part of any global solution to climate change and the challenges of sustainability.  However, the modalities and strategies that will bring education as a supporting platform to the vital COP28 action verbs of Finance, Capacity Building and Technology Transfer must be rapidly deployed, discussed and agreed upon by relevant stakeholders.

And what a better place to do so than at WEEC12 in Abu Dhabi on January 29 through February 2, 2024!

To align the education agenda to the Technology Transfer actions, we can focus on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Environmental Education (EE), catalysing climate action  and contributing to environmental education.  In recent years the role of artificial intelligence (AI) has gained significant attention across the environmental and academic community.  The world is facing the triple planetary crisis – climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – and technology and innovation has a key role to play in addressing these challenges.  There is an urgent need for innovative solutions to educate and engage the public in sustainable practices. This pathway will be amply demonstrated at WEEC12, with three sessions dedicated to the role of AI in enhancing the effectiveness of environmental education irrespective of geographic location, language barriers or technical infrastructural constraints.

To foreshadow these panels and underline the importance of EE, there were events at COP28 that addressed AI’s role in promoting new ways and tools for educators.

“AI is emerging as a powerful tool for how we learn about and interact with the environment, particularly through repackaging information and enhancing personalized learning experiences” said AI expert Lee Mallon, CTO of Humanity, Abu Dhabi at a COP28 side event on AI (see photo).  “Artificial Intelligence possesses the remarkable capability to transform extensive, 100-page reports on positive climate action into finely detailed narratives. This approach ensures that every individual across the globe can grasp the necessary steps for climate action. It tailors the information to align with the media channels that resonate most effectively with each person, enhancing their understanding and engagement in impactful environmental action”.

Other participants in the side event included US representative Erwin Rose who laid out a clear path for AI’s introduction as a powerful tool to support sustainability through the Climate Technology Centre and Network, eSRI representatives detailing location-based AI advances and EAGLES2030 chair Gerry Cunningham who offered practical strategies for implementation through collaboration.

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