CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
2. Climate change education and training in the country
3. Climate change communication in the country
i. Climate change context
The World Bank highlights that Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked developing country in Central Asia. In 2019 6.5 million people lived in the country on a landmass of 199.95 km2. The country has a high elevation, with 95% of the country is 1000m above sea level.
Kyrgyzstan is prone to natural disasters and climate hazards. Drought is common, as are landslides and mudslides, avalanches, squalls, downpours, icing, frosts, breakthroughs of glacial lakes, floods, rise of subsoil waters, epidemics, pests, crop diseases, and river erosion. According to the World Bank, the geography and topography of Kyrgyzstan make it the third most vulnerable country in Central Asia to climate change. In the context of high social vulnerability and hazard exposure, the emerging impacts of climate change are highly significant. The World Bank forecasts that rising temperatures, changing hydrology conditions, and frequency of extreme weather events associated with climate change will exacerbate Kyrgyzstan’s vulnerability and reduce its ability to manage extreme events unless appropriate adaptation measures are put in place. In the 3rd National Communication (2016), Kyrgyzstan identified its water, energy, agriculture, and infrastructure sectors as the most vulnerable to climate change.
According to the Global Carbon Atlas, Kyrgyzstan is a low-emitting country, with emissions of approximately 1.8 t CO2 per person in 2020. Per capita, Kyrgyzstan’s greenhouse gas emissions are less than one-third of the world average. The 3rd National Communication (2016) states that the highest share of the country’s greenhouse emissions in 2010 came from the energy sector (notably fuel combustion), followed by agriculture.
In Kyrgyzstan, 90% of total electricity generation is by hydroelectric power plants. However, the 2021 Updated Intended Nationally Determined Contribution predicts that expected climate change impacts will decrease water flow and reduce the potential of hydropower resources. Given annual growth of gross domestic product, electricity demand for Kyrgyzstan's economy will soon exceed hydropower capacities and power shortages will occur. High water interdependence in Central Asia means that climate change will likely aggravate conflicts between countries over water resources.
Kyrgyzstan accessed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2000 as a Non-Annex I (non-industrialized) country. The UNFCCC website notes that the act of accession has the same legal effect as a ratification. The Kyrgyzstan government has also ratified the Kyoto Protocol (2003) and signed the Paris Climate Agreement (2016), but did not accept the Doha Amendment.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The Climate Change Coordination Commission (CCCC), headed by the First Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, coordinates all climate change-related activities. The Commission is composed of all heads of key ministries and divisions and representatives of science, education, business, and non-governmental organizations. It is also the chief governing body to fulfill all national commitments under the UNFCCC. An Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point, however, did not exist at the time of this review.
The State Committee for Ecology and Climate of the Kyrgyz Republic was established in 2021 as the executive body on topics related to climate change and environmental protection. The Committee is tasked with establishing climate change policies and ensure the country’s environmental safetly.
The permanent working body of the Commission is the State Environmental and Forestry Agency at the Government of Kyrgyzstan (SAEPF). This Agency is tasked to provide organizational, technical, informational, and analytical support to the Commission and to monitor the implementation of its decisions. The Agency director functions as the Deputy Chair of the Commission. The Agency is further responsible for policy implementation and regulation in environmental conservation, environmental security, and nature use. This includes monitoring and assessing the state of natural objects and resources such as forestry and hunting, conducting an environmental impact assessment of economic activities, and establishing international cooperation in environmental protection, ecological security, and nature use. In 2005, the Climate Change Center of Kyrgyzstan was established to support the Agency in implementing national commitments under the UNFCCC. The Agency provides expert and information support for regular reporting to the UNFCCC, improvement of climate policy and legal capacity building, and strengthening of synergies for joint action by all stakeholders.
The Climate Finance Center of the Kyrgyz Republic is an entity established in 2018 by the government and the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience of the Climate Investment Funds. This quasi-government institution is responsible for climate funding issues in Kyrgyzstan. The Climate Finance Center is a central unit coordinating the country’s efforts in accessing climate funds and channeling them into transformative investments that support national development priorities. The Center is also tasked with coordinating all stakeholder activities on climate change. It aims to place climate change considerations into the mainstream of sustainable development planning and aligning Kyrgyzstan’s efforts with international requirements.
The Ministry of Economy plays a leading role in strategic planning, managing, and promoting of cross-cutting development issues, such as sustainable low-carbon and climate-resilient development and green economy promotion. The Ministry is also responsible for developing and implementing economic policy and for policies to manage investment and development projects, including climate change investments. It is the national authorized body of the Green Climate Fund.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Industry and Land Reclamation is responsible for national policy on agriculture, land and water resources, irrigation and land reclamation infrastructure, and the processing industry, including the climate change adaptation strategy that covers agriculture and water sectors.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations works to prevent damage by environmental disasters, including those linked to climate change, and is also responsible for the sectoral adaptation strategy on emergency situations. Under its auspices, Kyrgyzhydromet (the Agency on Hydrometeorology) provides a wide range of climate change-related data and information, including specialized environmental, meteorological, agro-meteorological, and hydrological information. It issues warnings about weather-related events.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan is the central executive power conducting state policy and exercising management in education and science. This Ministry controls accessibility and quality of education and ensures the constitutional right of citizens of Kyrgyzstan to education. The Ministry’s main tasks include improving the quality of education and creating conditions and mechanisms for developing scientific activity. Therefore, they also participate in data collection, primarily through the National Statistics Committee. The Committee collects data and publishes the report Education and Science in the Kyrgyz Republic every 5 years.
The Ministry of Finance plays a vital role in education by allocating a significant part of education funds directly to the level of rural administration and then to schools. The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible only for resources distributed among subordinate educational organizations, approximately 9 % of total education funds (Education Development Strategy, 2012).
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
Article 49, §1 of the fundamental law, the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic (adopted in 1993 and last amended in 2021), states: “Everyone has the right to an ecological environment favorable to life and health.” Thus, Kyrgyzstan has recognized the risks posed by climate change and adopted laws and policies to fulfill their legal obligation and improve the country's adaptive capacity to climate change.
The Presidential Decree 77/2021 on measures to ensure environmental safety and climate sustainability regulates climate change and pollution in the country. The Decree establishes the State Committee for Ecology and Climate of the Kyrgyz Republic as the main agency for the environment and climate protection.
The National Sustainable Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic for the Period of 2013-2017, was developed in 2013 as a result of the Rio+20 Summit. The Strategy was accompanied by the Program for the Transition to Sustainable Development of the Kyrgyz Republic (2013-2017) to ensure its implementation. Together, they contain provisions on assessing the costs and benefits of mineral resource extraction and promoting the efficient use of water resources, sustainable land use, energy saving, and energy efficiency. Since then, green economy and climate change adaptation considerations have been integrated into national legislation, including the laws on Environmental Protection, Protection of Atmospheric Air, Renewable Energy Sources, Public Health, Absorption of Greenhouse Gases, and the Forest and Water Codes.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, developed with the support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 2014, identified integration of disaster risk management into sustainable development planning, poverty reduction, and adaptation to climate change as one of five priority areas required to build a basis for stable risk management according to international standards.
The Climate Change Adaptation Programme and Action Plan for 2015-2017 for the Forest and Biodiversity Sector (2015) develops adaptation plans for Kyrgyzstan’s forests and biodiversity. The Plan focuses on the need for more information and communication among the population.
In 2013, with support from the United Nations Development Programme, Kyrgyzstan developed and approved their first national strategic document on climate change adaptation, the Priority Directions for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Kyrgyz Republic until 2017. The Priority Directions focus on minimizing negative risks and implementing potential opportunities for sustainable development of Kyrgyzstan. They consider adaptive measures, particularly their implementation in economic sectors that are the most vulnerable to climate change. This is taken further in the 2016 3rd National Communication, which identifies the highest priority economic sectors that require adaptation measures based on observed and expected changes related to climate change: water resources, agriculture, and energy. The Directions were updated in 2020.
The transformation toward sustainability and a green economy gained further impetus by adopting the Climate Investment Programme in 2018. The Programme oversees Kyrgyzstan’s climate change adaptation efforts and capacity building across agricultural, water, and energy sectors, food production, infrastructure, healthcare, mining, forestry, and biodiversity. The Programme further includes a training program designed to build knowledge and capacity for the Climate Finance Center and key national stakeholders required for successful climate resilience strategic planning, delivery, and monitoring. The training addresses a wide range of learning needs for stakeholders in its 17 modules, including Module 1: Climate Change, Module 3: Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies, Module 5: National Climate Funds, and Module 17: Gender.
Kyrgyzstan’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is meager, but Kyrgyzstan is especially vulnerable to climate change. Building climate resilience through adaptation actions is a key priority, reflected in most policies and strategies. However, Kyrgyzstan has also made efforts to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases, as reflected in the 2018 National Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2018-2040,. That Strategy determines the strategic legislative framework for development and implementation of climate change policy. It defines the country’s goal of becoming the “greenest country in the region” (p. 98) by achieving negative CO2 emissions. To achieve this, sustainable development pathways and green economic principles will be advanced as a national priority in various policy frameworks, and climate change adaptation strategies will be developed to reduce vulnerability and improve resilience. The Strategy recognizes the importance of climate change adaptation for sustainable development and calls for the development of mechanisms for climate change adaptation to contribute to environmental security. For implementation, 5-year development programs are adopted. The first, referred to as the Unity, Trust, Creation program, was approved by the parliament in 2018 and covers the period from 2018 to 2022.
In 2019, the Strategy for Sustainable Industrial Development of the Kyrgyz Republic (2019-2023) was endorsed, acknowledging the need to increase environment-friendly economic investments because the “industrial development in the Kyrgyz Republic should be sustainable” (p. 12). The goal of sustainable economic growth in combination with mitigation efforts is also reflected in the 2021 Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (2021), setting the overall mitigation goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 16.63% (36.61% with international support) by 2025. The Updated Contribution captures the long-term vision and plans of Kyrgyzstan. It aims to consolidate fragmented climate change policies and guide their implementation. It further mentions the importance of climate change education and the need for comprehensive measures to build capacity and raise awareness for all sectors of society.
Kyrgyzstan is still working on developing its first National Adaptation Plan. They submitted a Readiness Proposal in 2018, asking for financial support from the Green Climate Fund to initiate the National Adaptation Plan process. The main objective of the Plan will be to enhance vertical and horizontal planning for climate change adaptation, facilitate mainstreaming of climate risks at sectoral and subnational levels, and identify a program of priority investments for climate change adaptation.
Education and communication
Educational issues in Kyrgyzstan are mainly regulated by the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic and major laws and policy documents, such as the 2003 Law on Education, the 2012 Education Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2012-2020, and the 2012 Action Plan 2012-2014 for the implementation of the Education Development Strategy for 2012-2020. These do not reference climate change or environmental or sustainability issues.
Other official standards were adopted prioritizing ‘education for sustainable development’ in the national education system and integrating sustainable development, energy efficiency, and climate change in education content, to fulfill Kyrgyzstan’s international obligations. Since 2005, Kyrgyzstan has been officially committed to implementing the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development.
Kyrgyzstan’s standards include the 2007 Concept of Environmental Safety, the 2010 Framework National Standard (Curriculum) of Secondary General Education of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the 2013 State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education in the Direction of "Pedagogical Education"(Bachelor). Implementation of state educational standards is mandatory for all educational institutions regardless of their form of education.
The 2010 Framework sets a nationwide curricular standard for secondary education. It requires the teaching of natural science at all levels of study, either as an integrated course or as individual subjects (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geography, Astronomy, etc.) because: “understanding […] the environment will allow one to follow the principles of sustainable development, implement resource-saving behavior, and help to understand the risks of negative consequences of nature management” (p. 20). However, climate change education is not mentioned.
In April 2021, Kyrgyzstan officially presented the Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education to attendees from the government, academia, the private sector, civil society, and international organizations. The Plan aims to mainstream climate change into formal education and training and indicates the main shortcomings in Kyrgyzstan which are: 1) no concrete timeframes; 2) no clear responsibilities; and 3) unclear mechanism for cooperation. The Action Plan established three priorities for climate change education: 1) integration of climate change into formal and non-formal education at all levels of the education system; 2) training and professional development of state and municipal employees; and 3) Public information and engagement. The Action Plan aims to make climate change education a priority by 2030 and includes an assessment of climate change communication and education in the country as well as policy recommendations.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
Since 2005, Kyrgyzstan has been officially committed to implementing the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development and the Global UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. ‘Education for sustainable development’ is the most commonly used terminology in Kyrgyzstan’s laws, policies, and strategy papers. No policy elaborates a common national definition of ‘education for sustainable development,’ therefore the original definition of sustainable development from the Strategy seems to be applied in Kyrgyzstan. According to the Strategy, key themes on which people in the signing countries should be educated include: “peace, ethics, responsibility in local and global contexts, democracy and governance, justice, […], human rights, health, gender equity, cultural diversity, rural and urban development, economy, […], environmental protection, natural resource management and biological and landscape diversity” (p. 4). Climate change is not explicitly mentioned, so it is unclear to what extent climate change education is part of education for sustainable development in Kyrgyzstan.
‘Education for sustainable development’ is the terminology used in the majority of Kyrgyz policies, like the 2007 Concept of Environmental Safety, the 2010 Framework National Standard (Curriculum) of Secondary General Education of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the 2021 Concept of Education Development in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2021-2030. In other policies, such as the 2013 State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education in the Direction of "Pedagogical Education" (Bachelor), the term ‘Экологическое Воспитание’ (‘environmental education’) is used in addition to ‘education for sustainable development.’ ‘Environmental education’ is not defined, which makes it difficult to tell whether, and to what extent, climate change is explicitly considered in environmental education in Kyrgyzstan.
The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) uses the term ‘climate change education’ and relates it to sustainable development and environmental protection. The Plan states:
The topics of sustainable development, including climate change and other "green" topics, should be cross-cutting for the subject standards of all educational areas that are being prepared for schools and contribute to the reorientation of a science- or subject-centric approach to a competency-based approach, in which the change in knowledge, skills and attitudes of students is taken as the basis, expressed through the concept of competence, which is a dynamic parameter and is tied, on the one hand, to age-related changes in mental status, and on the other hand, to the expectations of the state and society from the education system. (2021, p. 8+9)
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
According to the World Bank, Kyrgyzstan spent 6.0% of its gross domestic product on education in 2017. However, no specific allocations are listed to track how much is spent on climate change communication and education.
The Climate Investment Programme (2018)- the Operational Framework for Managing and Accessing Climate Finance in the Kyrgyz Republic was established to improve climate financing in the country. The Programme gives particular attention to improving climate services and includes in its long-term goals awareness raising programs and the inclusion of climate change in schools. The Climate Finance Center of the Kyrgyz Republic is also part of the financing strategy. Nevertheless, although the Programme lists various sources for funding, it does not include a concrete budget plan for climate change communication and education.
The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) lists one of the core challenges for climate change communication and education funding issues. The four main challenges are:
At the systemic level: limited funds in the republican and local budgets allocated for climate/environmental activities;
At the organizational level: irrational and inefficient use of available financial resources for the implementation of measures to combat climate change;
At the individual level: lack of information and incentives to involve structures and individual researchers in climate change issues and adaptation to its consequences;
At the level of funding: insufficient work to attract the private sector to invest in projects aimed at climate change mitigation and adaptation. (2021, p. 20)
From 2011 to 2016, Kyrgyzstan participated in the Environment Protection for Sustainable Development Project of the United Nations Development Program. The country received a US$ 1.09 million grant for forming political frameworks on adaptation to climate change and reduction of greenhouse gases and for raising public awareness on the issues of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Information is not publicly available to indicate how much of the grant was assigned to increasing public awareness.
From 2012 to 2015, the European Union funded US$ 10.3 million for capacity building and raising public awareness on environmental issues and water management in Kyrgyzstan, within the Regional Environmental Program for Central Asia. The Program aimed to expand regional cooperation and partnership with Europe in managing water resources, forestry, and biodiversity, including environmental monitoring and education. How much of the budget was assigned for education purposes, and to what extent climate change was integrated, remains unclear.
Since 2013, the Livestock and Market Development Program II has been running in Kyrgyzstan to reduce poverty and enhance economic growth in pasture communities by improving livestock productivity and climate resilience. In cooperation with the International Fund for Agriculture Development, a total budget of US$ 32 million (a US$ 21 million grant and a US$ 11 million loan) was assigned for building adaptation capacity in pastures and livestock management and for raising public awareness.
In its 2021 Updated Nationally Determined Contribution, Kyrgyzstan stresses the need for further financial assistance to reach the country’s adaptation and mitigation goals: “The overall estimated cost of the implementation of mitigation and adaptation actions will total at around USD 10 billion including 37% coming from own resources (funding by the private sector, international donors, and the national budget) and 63% sought in the form of investments of international financial assistance” (p. 6).
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
The 2010 Framework National Standard (Curriculum) of Secondary General Education of the Kyrgyz Republic, a nationwide curricular standard for secondary education, does not reference climate change. However, the Framework mentions environmental education in a broader sense. The Framework distinguishes seven educational areas as obligatory to teach at all levels of study, either as an integrated course or as individual subjects. One area is ‘Естественнонаучное образование’ (Natural Science Education), which should include Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Astronomy, and Geography. The Framework states: “understanding the patterns occurring [...] in the environment will allow us to follow the principles of sustainable development, implement resource-saving behavior, and help to understand the risks of negative consequences of nature management” (p. 20). 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 Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) claims that climate change is fully covered in Geography. The Plan includes as the first priority to integrate climate change into all levels of the education system. The country aims to do this by systematically including climate change into the education system. A current weakness is according to the Action Plan that climate change is only included ad-hoc and does not go beyond the acquisition of knowledge, something that the country aims to change in the future. Kyrgyzstan aims to create more educational material to address climate change in the classroom and focus more on the emotional component of climate change education though positive experiences. The country aims to mainstream climate change into all curricula.
Since 2003, the SPARE - Simply Saving the Planet international school project on energy and climate has been operating in Kyrgyzstan. SPARE aims to attract young people to the practical implementation of sustainable energy. By providing educational materials to secondary school teachers and students and educating them on climate change, the conservation of resources, and efficient energy use, SPARE aims to decrease energy consumption in households and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. On a national level, SPARE is coordinated by the Kyrgyz non-governmental organization BIOM. Schools and teachers can download the most recent SPARE educational material from their website and implement their own projects. According to the 2016 3rd National Communication, more than 200 schools in all regions of Kyrgyzstan are actively involved in the SPARE project.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2014) sets high ambitions for climate change education. The Strategy describes t Kyrgyzstan’s macroeconomic and structural and social policies in support of poverty reduction, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development. This includes education, which should aim to “support […] individual’s personal and professional competence and provision of the state with the staff needed for country’s sustainable development [sic]” (p. 39). Aligning with this, national curriculum standards for all educational levels, including preschool, will be updated. New teaching materials will be published covering sustainable development issues such as climate change, power saving, renewable energy sources, environmental safety, and emergencies prevention. Modules on sustainable development will be integrated into social and economic studies and humanities at vocational schools and universities.
Kyrgyzstan’s Report on the Implementation of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, submitted to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Steering Committee for Education for Sustainable Development in 2018, states that some initiatives on education for sustainable development in Kyrgyzstan have been implemented with the support of international organizations. However, most initiatives remain unrealized due to lack of sufficient funding.
The United Nations Development Programme implemented the Climate Box Program in 2016 to foster knowledge of climate change in all schools in Kyrgyzstan. The Climate Box is a collection of educational materials related to climate change, targeting teachers of natural science classes and students of grades 2 to 12. The purpose of the Climate Box is to provide students with knowledge about the environment and impacts of human activity, to develop an environmental culture, to promote nature protection and responsible use of natural resources, and to assist teachers in planning and implementing lessons directly or indirectly related to climate change.
According to the 3rd National Communication (2016), climate change has been covered in the integrated Natural Science course or the individual subject of Geography in all secondary education schools in Kyrgyzstan since 2014. Climate change issues are taught within the topics ‘The Characteristics of Global Climate Change on the Continents,’ ‘Global Patterns of the Earth’s Development,’ and ‘The Geographical View of the Problems of Environmental Protection.’ Other topics, like atmospheric precipitation, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity, are covered in other Natural Science courses such as Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
In Kyrgyzstan, climate change issues are integrated into general teacher education. The 2013 State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education in the Direction of "Pedagogical Education" (Bachelor): lists the competencies that future teachers in the educational area of ‘Естественнонаучное образование’ (Natural Science Education) should develop during their teacher education. Professional competency number 11 says
[the teacher] is able to understand the principles of sustainability and productivity of living nature and the ways of its change under the influence of anthropogenic factors, [the teacher] is capable of systematic analysis of global environmental problems, issues of the state of the environment and rational use of natural resources. (p. 10)
Teachers of other educational areas, such as Philological Education, Physics and Mathematical Education, and Socio-economic Education attend an Ecology Module and are required to gain basic knowledge about “global environmental problems and ecological principles of rational use of natural resources and nature protection” (p. 49). However, the time and credit points assigned to this Ecology Module and climate change in particular remains unclear.
In 2014, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper planned to arrange retraining courses for teachers’ professional development on education content such as sustainable development issues. The Strategy Paper also planned to develop teaching materials for that education content, including sustainable development issues, and publish teaching materials for grades 3 to 6. Those measures aimed to meet the Strategy Paper’s objective of incorporating sustainable development issues, like climate change, power saving, renewable energy sources, and green economy principles, into education contents at all levels.
According to the 2018 Report on the Implementation of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, annual on-the-job training to improve teachers’ competencies is conducted in all regions of Kyrgyzstan. One objective of these training seminars is to integrate education for sustainable development issues into the subjects taught by attending teachers. At these seminars, teachers elaborate lessons using posters and other teaching aids and receive a set of informational materials to use in classes and extracurricular activities. The seminars are organized by the State Agency for Environment Protection and Forestry of the Kyrgyz Republic, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science, other government agencies, and non-governmental and international organizations. Methodological seminars on key topics of education for sustainable development are held annually in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science, for methodologists in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Geography from regional institutes and education centers. However, the extent to which climate change is integrated into teacher training seminars on education for sustainable development remains unclear.
From 2016 to 2018, Kyrgyzstan participated in the UNESCO project Sustainability Begins with Teachers in Central Asia. Within the framework of this Project, five leading educational institutions engaged in integrating Sustainable Development Goal 4.7 (Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship) into training and retraining of teaching staff. Five training sessions were held to improve the sustainability knowledge and competencies of participants. More than 200 teachers, student teachers, researchers, and other education stakeholders took part.
The 2021 Concept of Education Development in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2021-2030 highlights the need to improve the conditions of teachers in general, because: “sustainable development of the country is conditioned by the quality of education, which, in turn, depends on the level of professionalism of teachers” (p. 16). The Concept wants to fund large scholarships to student teachers, increase teachers' salaries to no less than 30% above the average salary, and grant teachers academic freedom in applying curricula and methodologies by 2030.
The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) includes teacher training. The Action Plans aims to develop:
methods and tools for modeling processes and phenomena in the environment under climate change. Development of modules for professional development of teachers and teachers in all regions of the country on climate change issues.
Formation and training of a team of teachers for the development and testing of new educational and methodological materials.
Organization of advanced training for teachers and representatives of regional/district/city departments/departments of education on the methodology of teaching climate change issues. (2021, p. 31)
iii. Climate change in higher education
In Kyrgyzstan, climate change is covered to only a small extent in higher education because it is not yet sufficiently integrated into higher education policies and strategies. Two major educational strategies, the 2012 Education Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2012-2020 (and its associated Action Plan) and the 2013 National Sustainable Development Strategy for the Kyrgyz Republic for the Period of 2013-2017, make no reference to climate change communication and education in higher education.
Some Kyrgyz universities have introduced Master's programs for sustainable development. Others are improving curricula through international educational cooperation. In 2017, the Kyrgyz National Agrarian University and the University of Eastern Finland, facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, started to develop curricula focused on sustainable fishing and aquaculture. In 2019 the Kyrgyz State University, in cooperation with the Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, introduced a project on including the Sustainable Development Goals into higher education curricula of Master’s degree programs. Further, according to the 2020 Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Kyrgyz Republic, students throughout the country have been engaging in debate clubs and open lectures that facilitate interactive discussions on implementing Sustainable Development Goals through innovation and technology.
Climate change is integrated into the curriculum of the general education discipline Ecology, which is available for all specialties, according to the 3rd National Communication (2016). For instance, at medical schools the subject Fundamentals of Ecology covers climate change, greenhouse effects, global warming, and protecting the atmosphere’s ozone layer. In 2013 a course on energy efficiency in buildings was introduced into the curricula of Kyrgyzstan’s main architecture universities, such as the Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transport and Architecture, the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, and the Bishkek Construction College. The course is directed at students of disciplines such as industrial and civil construction, urban construction and management, and heat and ventilation. A public network and the Education for Sustainable Development Association were also created, according to the 3rd National Communication (2016), helping schools and universities develop the ideas of sustainable development, biodiversity, and others.
In 2021 the Concept of Education Development in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2021-2030 was published, guiding future visions and plans in education in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals. However, climate change education and environmental and sustainability education in general are not included.
The 3rd National Communication (2016) notes that the gradual transition to integrating sustainable development, energy efficiency, and climate change in higher education content has begun. National guides were developed to integrate sustainable development, green economy, and climate change issues into the policies and programs of universities and higher education institutions. The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) as well calls for better inclusion of climate change in universities and research centers.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
In Kyrgyzstan, climate change is not integrated into state training for adults, but non-governmental organizations offer a few programs in cooperation with international organizations. The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) has a special focus on increased climate change training for adults and government officials, with the second priority being the “training and professional development of state and municipal employees” (p. 33). According to the Action Plan, Kyrgyzstan will develop training possibilities specially designed for the most polluting industries.
Adult training, retraining, and professional development are provided in both formal (e.g., evening and extramural schools) and informal (e.g., training centers, non-governmental organizations) settings. According to the 2012 Education Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2012-2020, in 2010 more than 1,000 licensed centers throughout the country provided informal training programs for 5,482 adult students. Programs focused on the unemployed or specific target groups such as single mothers or retired people. Currently the state does not finance adult training, neither private training centers nor formal evening schools, and adult training is not well regarded. However, as awareness grows of the importance of training and retraining for adults, the government aims “to provide opportunities for lifetime training and retraining” (p. 45), as stated in the 2014 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. The Strategy Paper further sets the objective of “incorporat[ing] sustainable development issues and green economy principles in education contents at all levels” (p. 45). This includes formal adult training at evening schools and extramural schools. The degree to which this objective has been achieved remains unclear, because no climate change-related adult training programs are referenced in any later policies or reports.
In 2008, the Protecting Health from Climate Change project of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe was launched in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety. The project’s objectives, to be implemented at national and local levels, included health promotion, raising public awareness on the impact of climate change, and strengthening renewable energy. Community initiatives included planting trees to reduce the impact of flooding and introducing energy-saving technologies in rural areas. Local craftspeople were trained for development and distribution of these green technologies, such as solar panels, energy-saving stoves, biogas plants, and methods for thermal insulation of buildings, according to the 3rd National Communication (2016).
i. Climate change and public awareness
Raising public awareness is commonly addressed in policies of Kyrgyzstan and pursued by many campaigns and programs of non-governmental organizations. According to the 2018 Report on the Implementation of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, raising public awareness is addressed in 11 relevant national documents, such as the 2007 Concept of Environmental Safety, the 2013 National Sustainable Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic in 2013-2017, and the 2021 Concept of Education Development in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2021-2030.
The 2014 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper identified three public awareness measures to promote a “high culture of consumption and nature management” (p. 65): 1) “to cover and discuss comprehensively in media the sustainable development ideology”, 2) “to open information center[s] for environmental public education in libraries, museums, and other institutions, and 3) “to produce videos and popular science films for environmental enlightenment and education” (p. 65). Two years later, the 2016 3rd National Communication criticized the fact that climate change issues are solely addressed on websites of government bodies or non-governmental organizations and insufficiently covered by the media. However, the National Communication indicates that a module on climate change has been included in the training program of environmental journalists and that a Club of Environmental Journalism was founded in 2011 in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program. The Club holds regular competitions and meetings about climate change topics, such as melting glaciers and climate risk management.
In 2019, the Sustainable Development Goals Youth Ambassadors Program of the United Nations System in Kyrgyzstan was launched, in cooperation with the State Agency for Youth Affairs, Physical Culture and Sports. The Program aims to engage young Kyrgyz activists in raising awareness among different population groups about the Sustainable Development Goals. The Program targets youth, mainly university and high school students, youth and volunteer organizations, and youth community groups across the country. From 2019 to 2020, 54 young activists from Kyrgyzstan were chosen as Ambassadors and participated in two sessions to build capacity for communication, social project management, advocacy, and fundraising. The Ambassadors went on to implement their own public awareness events on sustainable development, such as information sessions, interactive lectures, online flash mobs, workshops, training sessions, clean-ups, interactive games, quizzes, masterclasses, social media challenges, debates, fairs, and festivals. From 2019 to 2020, the Ambassadors conducted 173 events and reached 12,859 people in Kyrgyzstan. However, the extent to which extent climate change, as a part of sustainable development, was specifically addressed remains unclear.
The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) includes public awareness initiatives that are based on “Gender-sensitive adaptation measures and traditional knowledge, indigenous knowledge, local knowledge systems relevant to adaptation as appropriate” (p. 72).
In February 2022 Kyrgyzstan hosted Climate Fresk, the first educational game in the country and in Central Asia, within the framework of the Policy Action for Climate Security in Central Asia. Climate Fresk is an international innovative tool for climate education. This immersive game gives people a more complete picture of the phenomenon of climate change by building cause-and-effect relationships. The game highlights the role of humans in climate change and possible solutions.
The 2020 Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Kyrgyz Republic identifies next steps for sustainable development and successful climate change adaptation. One of them is “supporting research and raising awareness and understanding among stakeholders regarding climate change and its impact on people’s lives, the economy and the environment” (p. 110). The 2021 Updated Intended Nationally Determined Contribution specifies the planned measures:
1. Raising climate awareness and adaptive knowledge of employees of state bodies, local self-government and land users.
2. Raising awareness and knowledge of energy sector employees and the public on climate change issues.
3. Raising awareness and knowledge in the field of climate emergencies for the population and employees of the emergency prevention sector.
4. Raising climate awareness and adaptation knowledge of staff in the forestry sector and specially protected natural areas. (pp. 32-36)
ii. Climate change and public access to information
In Kyrgyzstan, the public has several options to access information on climate change. Official news and analytical information from the government are published on the website and social media channels of the State Environmental and Forestry Agency at the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. Current information on weather (such as storm warnings and rain forecasts), water, air, radiation, and the environment in general are available on the website of Kyrgyzhydromet, the Agency on Hydrometeorology under the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) criticizes that climate change information in the country is often too complex, only fragmented, and not systematically available. Therefore, the Action Plan establishes as a third priority “Public Information and Engagement” (p. 37). Through this priority, the government aims to engage more stakeholders and increase support for climate action in the country. The Action Plan highlights that the country wants to launch a comprehensive information campaign, including online portals, brochures, and other information channels.
Information about climate change can be found on website of the Climate Change Center of the Kyrgyz Republic. Especially under the section Kyrgyzstan and Climate Change, the website provides information on the activities of the Climate Change Coordination Commission, cross-sectoral partnership and international cooperation, legislation of Kyrgyzstan in climate change, and the geography and climate of Kyrgyzstan.
National non-governmental organizations also offer climate change information on the internet. For instance, the Climate Network of Kyrgyzstan INFOIC gives information on their website about the most pressing issues in climate policy in Kyrgyzstan and the Central Asian region, and about international policy and practical guides on CO2 emissions reduction, agriculture, and emergencies. The environmental information service EKOIS-Bishkek provides global and local news on climate change and climate change-related projects and initiatives, plus practical information about how to find recycling facilities in the capital Bishkek. Both websites offer an email newsletter by subscription.
In 2015, Kyrgyzhydromet started to release an annual Bulletin of the Current State of Climate Change in Kyrgyzstan, which presents results from climate monitoring in Kyrgyzstan. According to the 3rd National Communication (2016), these annual bulletins provide data on air temperature and precipitation, formation of large-scale weather conditions, extreme weather events, and climate change in Kyrgyzstan. The Bulletins are addressed to diverse audiences: representatives of government agencies, scientists, and the general public.
Most of the information on climate change issues in Kyrgyzstan is available on the websites of government bodies and non-governmental environmental organizations, but the topic is not actively or systematically covered by the media, according to the 3rd National Communication (2016). The topic is addressed only in newsworthy information such as an event, a dispute, or an emergency. According to the National Communication, plans were made to improve journalists’ capacity by including a module on climate change in the training program for environmental journalism. However, we found no information on the effects of this program or on media coverage of climate change topics in more recent years.
iii. Climate change and public participation
Kyrgyzstan is committed to increasing public participation in climate-related programs and projects and in decision-making processes. Since 2000, Kyrgyzstan has been a party to the 1998 Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (also known as the Aarhus Convention) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The Aarhus Convention grants the public rights in access to information, public participation, and access to justice in government decision-making processes on matters concerning the local, national, and transboundary environment. The Convention focuses on interactions between the public and public authorities.
The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) lists several means for the public to become more engaged in climate action. For the first phase 2021-2024, the Action Plan lists several strategies, and highlights the need to include Indigenous peoples as well as gender sensitive approaches:
- Development of a methodology for public participation in the development and implementation of climate policy, including NDCs and NAPs.
- Holding a series of public discussions in all regions (with the participation of at least 30% of women and youth) on climate change issues.
- Planning processes: (i) internal institutional arrangements, public participation and involvement of local communities and indigenous peoples, using gender-sensitive approaches; (p. 40)
Two Aarhus Centres operate in Kyrgyzstan, one in the capital city Bishkek (launched in April 2015) and one in Osh city (2004). The centers aim to provide members of the public with practical resources to exercise their environmental rights under the Aarhus Convention. They disseminate environmental information, carry out numerous educational and training projects, provide a venue for members of the public to meet to discuss environmental concerns, assist the public with participating in environmental decision-making, and facilitate access to justice on environmental matters.
A Climate Change Dialogue Platform of Kyrgyzstan, a multi-stakeholder partnership platform focused on climate change, was launched in Bishkek in 2014 by the State Environmental and Forestry Agency of the Kyrgyz Republic. The Platform aims to regularly provide a multidisciplinary and comprehensive exchange of information, knowledge, and experience among all stakeholders. Their first meeting was attended by representatives of government ministries, many different civil society organizations, science and academia, the private sector, and international development partners, according to the 3rd National Communication (2016).
The 200+ environmental non-governmental organizations operating in the Republic make additional efforts to increase public participation. According to the 2007 Concept of Environmental Safety, many non-governmental organizations are engaged in the NGO Consultative Council that functions under the state environmental authority. The Council’s tasks include fostering public participation in environmentally significant decisions, conducting public environmental impact assessments, and holding public hearings on large economic projects that may harm the environment.
i. Country monitoring
Kyrgyzstan has no coherent system of climate change communication and education monitoring. The 2016 3rd National Communication criticizes the fact that, even though many state programs toward a sustainable future have been adopted and many measures have been taken, there is “no vertically-integrated system of monitoring on the undertaken efforts” (p. 25). Instead, multiple governmental agencies and different stakeholders engage in data collection. For climate change, the State Environmental and Forestry Agency at the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic is the government body responsible for monitoring implementation and effects of the decisions of the Climate Change Coordination Commission. That Commission coordinates all climate change-related activities in Kyrgyzstan and is charged with fulfilling all national commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the educational sector, data are collected regularly by the National Statistical Committee, which publishes the annual report on Education and Science in the Kyrgyz Republic. However, other ministries, like the Ministry of Education and Science, also participate in data collection. According to the 2012 Education Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2012-2020, the data collected by the National Statistics Committee and by the Ministry of Education and Science vary significantly due to different data collection methodologies.
The Comprehensive Action Plan for Climate Change Education (2021) dedicates a full chapter to evaluating and monitoring. The Plan states that a Interdepartmental Working Group will be in charge to monitor the Action Plan and make decisions on the next steps. The Center of Climate Finance will have the overall coordination responsibility. Future Nationally Determined Contributions will be used to keep track of the Action Plan. Kyrgyzstan connects its indicators for climate change communication and education monitoring with the Sustainable Development Goals. National indicators the country aims to collect are:
126.96.36.199d. The number of youth and adults over 15 years of age, by sex, enrolled in the system of non-formal education in various courses (legal entities that have received the appropriate licenses for the right to conduct educational activities).
188.8.131.52. Availability of topics on citizenship, sustainable development, gender equality and human rights - in the regulatory legal framework (reflecting national policy), in the State Educational Standards (SES) for schools, vocational schools, colleges, universities, in the State Educational Training Standards teachers (SES), in the materials of the Final State Attestation of Students.
184.108.40.206a. Number of supported youth initiatives on sustainable development and lifestyle in harmony with nature. (p. 69)
The National Statistical Committee also collects data on the process of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, sorted by goals and indicators. Of the 206 relevant national indicators, data for 102 are considered available or easily accessible to form a solid basis for monitoring and reviewing the Sustainable Development Goals. All available indicators with sufficient data are published on the Sustainable Development Goals National Monitoring and Reporting Platform of the Kyrgyz Republic, which was still partly under construction at the time of this review. No data on climate change communication and education are available under Sustainable Development Goal 13.3 or Sustainable Development Goal 4.7.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the 2012 Education Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2012-2020 and the 2010 Framework National Standard (Curriculum) of Secondary General Education for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’ As the Framework is only available in Russian, the keywords were translated to ‘изменение климата,’ ‘окружающая среда,’ ‘устойчивое развитие,’ and ‘биологическое разнообразие'.
A keyword analysis of the Framework found no references to ‘climate change’ or ‘biodiversity.’ However, three references to ‘environment’ and two to ‘sustainability’ were found in the curriculum for Natural Science.
The Education Development Strategy does not mention ‘climate change’ or ‘biodiversity’ or ‘environment’. It references ‘sustainability’ 18 times.
This profile was reviewed by Rahat Sabyrbekov, Scientist, OSCE Academy, Bishek, Kyrgyzstan.