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 describes Lithuania as a central European country on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, with a population of about 2.6 million people in 2022 and an area of 65 302 km2. Lithuania is a country of lowlands with the highest hills reaching less than 300 m in height. During the past 40 years Lithuania’s annual hazards have been extreme temperatures (40%), droughts (20%), storms (20%), and floods. Lithuania’s 7th National Communication highlights the probability of future extreme temperatures in the country, with the number of freezing days decreasing more slowly. Lithuania’s Baltic Sea coast region is most vulnerable to climate change. Coastlines, coastal ecosystems, and local populations are affected mainly by sea level rise, storm and hurricane winds, sea and Curonian Lagoon water warming, and salinity changes.
The Global Carbon Atlas (2020) indicates that Lithuania is a medium emitting country that emits 5.1 t CO2 per person. According to the 4th Biennial Update Report (2020), the transport sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Road transport emissions account for 90%, of which 80% comes from motor vehicles. Agriculture is the second most significant source and accounts for 21% of total emissions.
Lithuania is an Annex I country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ratified in 1995. The country ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, the Paris Agreement in 2016, and the Doha Amendment in 2015.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The Ministry of Environment is the lead institution responsible for developing climate change policy and its implementation in Lithuania. It is the national Focal Point for the UNFCCC, oversees the environment and natural resources, implements the principle of sustainable development, and is designated as a single national entity responsible for the nationwide greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The Ministry is in charge of the legal, institutional, and procedural arrangements for the national system and the strategic development of the nationwide inventory. The Ministry supervises several institutions that are responsible for climate change issues.
- The State Forestry Service compiles the National Forest Inventory and the forest information system, monitors the status of Lithuania’s forests, and collects and manages statistical data. The Service is also responsible for calculating emissions and removals of the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry sector and Kyoto Protocol activities under Article 3, paragraphs 3 and 4.
- The Lithuanian Environmental Protection Agency is the lead authority for environmental impact assessment and environmental permits. It ensures continuous and complex monitoring, evaluation, forecasting, and information on environmental quality and natural resource use. The Agency also organizes and performs chemical, biological, and radiological investigations of environment and pollution sources and coordinates applied and other scientific and environmental research, programs, and projects.
- The Environmental Protection Department carries out compliance assurance for environmental regulations. It was created as a 2018 merger of eight regional environmental protection departments into a central department.
- The Climate Policy Group develops climate change policies and supports the Ministry of Environment in decision making for climate change.
- The National Committee on Climate Change was established by the Ministry of Environment in 2001 (the current composition of the Committee was approved in 2021). It is a consultative body that provides advice and recommendations with regards to climate change policy formation, evaluation, and implementation. It oversees the National Climate Change Management Agenda (2021).
- The Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service is the state institution responsible for meteorological (including aeronautical and marine) and hydrological observations and forecasts. It provides information on the hydrological regime of surface water bodies, climate change, and its environmental impact.
The Ministry of Agriculture coordinates policies and actions in areas such as agriculture, food industry, food quality fisheries, national heritage, rural development, and land management. The Ministry also participates in climate change initiatives, because agriculture activities are closely related to climate change. For instance, the Ministry seeks innovation in farming practices and environmentally friendly agricultural technologies and disseminates information on related themes.
In the transport sector, the Ministry of Transport is responsible for mobility in Lithuania, including infrastructure, safe traffic, and transport policies. The Ministry cooperates to reduce air pollution and increase the use of renewable energies in the transport sector and on environmentally friendly transportation policies and initiatives address climate change.
The Ministry of Health and the health sector consider that climate change is highly linked to health and that people with diseases or health problems can be more vulnerable to climate challenges. Thus, the health sector supports climate change policy, plan, and measures to lessen the threat to human health. Initiatives have included disseminating climate knowledge and raising awareness.
The Ministry of Finance formulates and implements effective public finance policy to ensure Lithuania’s macroeconomic stability and economic development. The Ministry has a significant role in allocating funding for climate change projects.
The Ministry of Energy has led a range of structural reforms in the Lithuanian energy sector. The Ministry is responsible for the National Energy Independence Strategy (2018), the National Energy and Climate Plan (2019), and the Action Plan for Strengthening the Energy Innovation Ecosystem, in consultation and coordination with stakeholders. In 2019, the Ministry created a new section for innovation and internationalization, which works on energy innovation. The Ministry also pursues the Lithuania’s government’s policy on fuel, electricity, thermo-energy production, and supply for Lithuania’s economy. The Ministry supervises the nuclear power sector and is responsible for preparing regulatory acts governing nuclear power and coordinating assistance for nuclear safety improvements.
Lithuania did not have a designated Action for Climate Empowerment focal point at the time of this review.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport implements the national system of formal and non-formal education, which influences social attitudes in favor of education, creates conditions for lifelong learning, implements the state policy of research and studies following the Law on Research and Studies of the Republic of Lithuania (2009, amended in 2022) and other legal acts, and coordinates the activity of Lithuanian institutions of research and studies.
The National Agency for Education is the education assistance institution founded by Lithuania’s Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. The Agency’s mission includes conducting education monitoring; organizing national and international education research; organizing the development of the preschool, pre-primary, and general education content and coordinating its implementation; developing the education assistance system while implementing provisions on inclusive education; organizing and administering evaluation of learning achievements, Matura examinations and other examinations; and evaluating key competences of individuals and acquired professional competencies.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Department is part of the National Agency for Education. The Department is responsible for national and international assessments, including the PISA study. It also evaluates schools, teacher training institutions, and other institutions with education mandates.
The Lithuanian Research Council coordinates scientific research and provides information to the public about research topics. The Council works closely with the European Union (EU) to support the distribution of research funds and scientific exchanges. Various research programs supported by the Council focus on climate change-related topics.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
Lithuania’s Political Constitution (1992; amended in 2006) guarantees protection of the environment in Article 53, which says that the State and each person must protect the environment from harmful influences. Article 54 states that
The State shall take care of the protection of the natural environment, wildlife and plants, individual objects of nature and areas of particular value and shall supervise a sustainable use of natural resources, their restoration and increase.
The destruction of land and the underground, the pollution of water and air, radioactive impact on the environment as well as depletion of wildlife and plants shall be prohibited by law.
Lithuania’s main legal instrument for climate change is the Climate Change Management Law of the Republic of Lithuania (2009, amended in 2022). The Law is the basis of the National Climate Change Management Policy (2022) and states that the Policy must include education and public information.
The National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2011) is a core strategy in Lithuania. The Strategy follows sustainable development principles and is compatible with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Lithuania’s National Strategy for Climate Change Management Policy (2012) aims to achieve climate neutrality and ensure resilience of economic sectors and ecosystems to negative climate changes. The vision of the Policy is to develop a low-carbon and socially fair economy through sustainable financing and investment. The Policy divides Lithuania’s climate change management into short-term (until 2020), medium-term (2030–2040), and long-term goals (until 2050).
The updated National Climate Change Management Agenda was approved in 2021 and lays out Lithuania’s climate adaptation and mitigation plans until 2050. The Agenda aims to “implement an information and education initiative that promotes public environmental awareness, climate awareness, involvement and responsible, environmentally friendly and climate-friendly behavior” (Article 31.10.1). The main changes from the previous Agenda are the timeframe of the goals.
The Lithuanian government developed the National Energy and Climate Action Plan of the Republic of Lithuania for 2021–2030 (2020) to ensure environmental quality and sustainable use of natural resources. The Plan intends to mitigate the country’s impact on climate change and increase its climate resilience.
Lithuania’s progress strategy “Lithuania 2030” (2020) reflects national priorities for development and highlights guidelines for their implementation by 2030. It is an innovative country strategy developed on the principles of sustainable development and by the citizens, based on their proposals and ideas. The Strategy considers mitigating climate change for sustainable use of resources as part of moving toward a smart economy. “Lithuania 2050” is planned to be presented to the Parliament by March 2023. Changes dictated by climate change and green transformation are indicated in this strategy’s development methodology as one of the main challenges.
In the health sector, the Order on Diseases Related to Climate Change (Allergic and Infectious) Approval of the Prevention Program for 2015-2020 (V-565) was aimed at managing the incidence of diseases that can be related to climate change. Among the main purposes of the Order were the building of a preventive and monitoring system (carrying out and enhancing those processes), improvement of public education and awareness on the topic, capacity building of people who work in the field, and the enhancement of cooperation with stakeholders.
Lithuania’s 7th National Communication (2017) emphasizes education, training, and public awareness. The Communication acknowledges climate change and sustainable development focused on formal education and public outreach initiatives anchored by the Lithuanian government.
Education and communication
The Law on Education of the Republic of Lithuania (2011, amended in 2022) is the primary law on education. Climate change is not directly mentioned, but the Law refers to sustainable development and the need to protect the environment.
The Law on Research and Studies of the Republic of Lithuania (2009, amended in 2022) provides the state regulation for higher education and research, establishes principles for quality assurance in higher education and research, ensures equal access to higher education for all citizens. The Law states that a cohesive system of higher education and research is the foundation of a knowledge society, the strengthening of knowledge-based economy and the sustainable development of the country.
The Law on Vocational Education and Training (2018, amended in 2022) regulates the structure, organization, and management of vocational education and training in Lithuania. One of the goals of Vocational Education and Training system is to ensure conditions for acquiring qualifications and competences that meet the needs of modern reality and labor market and guarantees national economic growth, sustainable development, and international competitiveness.
The Lithuanian Education for All National Action Plan (n.d.) consolidates efforts of the government and society for education reform across the nation. Among the goals for further education development the plan mentions such principles as ‘learning to live together’, sustainable development as well as open, democratic and knowledge society.
The National Education Strategy for 2013-2022 (2013) has a focus on fundamental changes within the education sector in Lithuania. Among the main building value principles of the Strategy are responsibility for one’s actions and active care for oneself, the environment, the community and the state.
Lithuania and the association of local authorities published the Agreement on National Education Policy (2021-2030) which is the most important political landmark for the decade focusing on specific actions and commitments to ensure stability in education, the continuity of the long-term decisions made, the mobilization of the necessary resources and the consistent growth of funding. Although climate change, environment, and sustainable development related topics are not specifically mentioned, the document appeals to more general values and acknowledges the importance of education in producing stronger democratic society and culture as well as in promoting national, civic ,and political awareness and mutual trust.
The General Education Plans of Primary, Basic, and Secondary Education for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years mention the topics of ecology and environment protection under the social skills development program. The General Curriculum of Primary Education (2008) also includes sustainable development topics.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
Lithuania strongly emphasizes the environment and often combines climate change terminology with environmental terms. For example, the National Climate Change Management Agenda (2021) incorporates ‘public environmental awareness’ and ‘climate-friendly behavior’ in its mandate. The 2013–2020 Strategy for the National Climate Change Management Policy (2012) follows Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) terminology. The Policy includes “increasing environmental proactivity and climate change awareness of the general public” (Article 167.6) and “promotion of coordination and dissemination of climate change information” (Article 167.7).
Sustainable development is a core principle in all strategic education-related documents, including the General Curriculum of Primary Education (2008). It is defined as:
Sustainable development. The content of education is based on the principles of sustainable development of society. The interdependence of the natural environment, culture, social and economic life, future-oriented creative thinking, and the active participation of each person in creating quality life for future generations are emphasized. Main themes of sustainable development: cultural, biological and landscape diversity, environmental responsibility at local and global scale, peace and conflict, citizenship, poverty reduction, climate change, democracy, justice, health, gender equality, etc. educational information of integrated subjects. Schools are encouraged to make the implementation of sustainable development ideas part of the life of their communities and every day activities. (p. 5)
The 7th National Communication (2017) also highlights the country’s connection between sustainable development and climate change:
The Government of Lithuania agrees that social education, including environmental education and promotion of lifestyle which is not detrimental to environment, is one of the priorities in shifting to sustainable development. (p. 200)
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
The World Bank indicates that Lithuania spent 3.9% of its gross domestic product in 2018 on education. According to the Agreement on National Education Policy (2021-2030), the state and municipal budgets per student in general education and vocational training should reach at least 24% of gross domestic product per capita by 2030.
The Climate Change Management Law of the Republic of Lithuania (2009, amended in 2022) includes financial guidance for science, education, and public information. The Law determines the responsibilities of people and organizations working on climate change and describes the duties and responsibilities of the EU.
The 2013–2020 budget of the Strategy for the National Climate Change Management Policy (2012) describes aspirations for how climate action should be funded in Lithuania. The Policy separates the country’s climate change plans into the different Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) elements, but no specific budget is described. The Policy called for more funding for climate change communication and education.
The updated National Climate Change Management Agenda (2021) sets as a goal “to create and apply economic, financial and educational measures to reduce energy poverty and other types of inequality, which are increasing due to climate change” (Article 37.5.4). Concrete funding mechanisms are not part of the Agenda.
According to the 2022 State Budget, Lithuania allocated US$ 362 million (EUR 354 million) to climate change measures. The share of this funding allocated to climate change communication and education is not specified.
The Inter-institutional Action Plan for the Implementation of the Goals and Objectives for 2016-2020 lists public awareness projects with combined funding of US$ 1,568,771 (EUR 1,537,000.8).
According to a preliminary estimate, achieving the National Energy and Climate Action Plan of the Republic of Lithuania for 2021-2030 will cost around US$ 13.9 billion (EUR 14 billion). The majority of the funds, US$ 10.7 billion (EUR 10.8 billion), will be allocated for implementation of the national energy independence objectives and Lithuania’s commitments to the EU on climate change mitigation measures. Lithuania also plans to allocate US$ 3.28 billion (EUR 3.3 billion) to climate change adaptation.
The 7th National Communication (2017) highlights that three government agencies coordinate climate change funding. The Climate Change Special Programme (renamed to Climate Change Programme in 2019) is the central fund, overseen by the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance coordinate international funds, including development assistance. The Climate Change Programme is used for public information and education, scientific research, consulting, and training operators and other people.
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
A short-term goal of the National Climate Change Management Agenda (2021) is to ensure that climate change education is available at all levels of education. Climate change education should be based on the most current scientific knowledge “by ensuring continuous collection and dissemination of information about most advanced technology, current research and experimental development in the area of climate change” (Article 169.8). In Lithuania, there are various examples of integration and reflection of sustainable development and climate change related topics in different levels of education.
For example, the Methodological recommendations for preschool education (2015) include examples of desired preschool children’s behavior and achievements in the field of environmental knowledge (“showing respect to the living and non-living environment and the developing sense of responsibility for its preservation”, “feeling of attachment to the nearest nature environment, taking part in maintaining it”, “learning to sort waste”, “asking about unusual natural phenomena, catastrophes that occur in the world” etc.
The General Curriculum of Primary Education (2008) focuses on sustainable development, incorporating climate change. The Curriculum includes the learning core Knowledge of the World, which encourages students to think about global problems, including the environment and climate change, and feel responsible for the well-being of themselves and society in general as well as everything that happens nearby. The learning core is based on principles of sustainable development. According to the curriculum, Knowledge of the World aims to encourage students to change their behavior and be responsible for their actions. It includes a justice perspective on environmental issues. The learning core is interdisciplinary and part of the social and natural sciences.
The Development of General Competencies and Life Skills (2008) for primary and basic education includes climate change education as part of the integrated sustainable development program. The document suggested integrating sustainable development-related skills and values in all the school subjects, both formal and non-formal education activities. The document also provides concrete examples of integrating climate change in various school subjects of grades 9-10 (Geography, Natural Sciences, Citizenship Education, Foreign languages, etc.). It uses the four learning dimensions of ‘learning to know’, ‘learning to be’, ‘learning to act’, and ‘learning to live together’ from the Delors Report.
The process of updating the national curriculum has been taking place for several years. The new curriculum concept (Guidelines for Updating the General Curriculum Framework, approved in 2019) defined curriculum renewal priorities, learning goals, quality criteria, cross-curriculum priorities, the structure of the new curriculum, etc. The topic of climate change (especially, climate change prevention) was highlighted in the concept as one of the interdisciplinary topics relevant for young people for their present and future. Among three cross-curriculum priorities, one represents the sustainable development goals. The values and skills developed as part of curriculum competences focus on the environmental issue.
The updated General Programs of Primary, Basic and Secondary Education have been approved on 30 September 2022 and will be implemented in schools (grades 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, as well as 3rd grade in Secondary schools (Gymnasium)) starting from 2023 and 2024 (in the remaining grades). The updated general programs follow a competence-oriented direction of education and focus on the development of cognitive, digital, social, emotional and healthy lifestyle, creativity, civic, cultural and communication competences. The Description of Competence development includes the problematics of climate change in the development of citizenship-related and digital competences. Climate change-related topics, problematics and main trends are well reflected in the general curricula of ethics, religion, foreign language, mathematics, biology, engineering technology, geography, economics and entrepreneurship, national security and defense, theater and art history. For example, while learning a foreign language, students learn to use language on such topics as environmental sustainability, climate change, environmental protection, ecological problems and their solutions, responsible consumption, waste sorting, resource conservation, sustainable cities and settlements, climate change prevention, biodiversity protection, circular economy, etc. In history curriculum, global climate change is discussed as a global political issue at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. The biology program includes issues of the influence of human activities (deforestation, fires, use of fossil fuels) on climate change. Topics included in the geography program are human economic activity, climate change, climate protection, the ecological, social and economic consequences of climate change are analyzed. The general program of the theater includes the creation of play on a current topic. When creating a play on the topic of climate change (warming), pupils collect information about the threats of climate warming, compose the play's dramaturgy and texts.
The updated General Program of Pre-primary Education (2022) has been recently approved and started to be implemented in fall 2022. It encloses the environmental topic through the development of citizenship competence. Among six education areas described in the Curriculum, one is focused on Science Education – i.e., various environmental topics are embedded in three achievement-related areas and concrete achievements of pre-school age children (i.e., to gain understanding and describe oneself as a part of nature, describe human needs and their impact on nature; to show the initiative to protect nature, use natural resources responsibly, etc.).
The National Education Strategy for 2013-2022 (2013) states in Article 7.5 that students should learn “responsibility for one’s actions, active care for oneself, the environment, the community, the state, effective action to achieve goals.” Climate change is not directly mentioned.
Under the North-South Center at the Council of Europe‘s initiative, the Ministry of Education and the Lithuanian Children and Youth Center, the 2019 Global Education Week in Lithuania was directly related to climate change. The campaign was called The Last Cry of the Climate and invited school communities to raise awareness by talking about daily habits, lifestyle, future projections, and ways to change. Teachers and students were encouraged to take new challenges every week or every day related to healthy eating and consumption, among others. An art contest, called ‘Reflection of Climate Change,’ motivated students to express themselves in photos, videos, music, poetry, and drawings, using the topics “Then and now” and “If the Earth were a person.” A Day of Action was promoted to be held in schools around the country, developing talks, workshops, and other events.
Since 1988, the non-governmental organization Lithuanian Green Movement has made steady efforts in environmental education, raising awareness, and supporting policy-making processes. For instance, parallel to international cooperation, since 2004 the Movement has implemented the international program Conservation Schools, which aims to increase environmental knowledge, socially responsible learning, involvement of the local community, enhancement of consumption actions, and other environmental protection behaviors to form leaders who better address climate problems.
Topics of climate change, among other subjects, are also promoted, explored and put into practice in the schools that belong to the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet).
The 7th National Communication (2017) highlights that “National strategic documents on education also set an ambitious goal of turning the education system in Lithuania into a sustainable foundation for the furtherance of national welfare, brave and independent human beings able to create, responsibly and jointly with others, their future as well as that of the nation and the world” (p. 201). The Communication also highlights that public awareness campaigns strengthen climate change education in primary and secondary schools in Lithuania—focusing on the work of the Ministry of Environment, which organized 150 nature knowledge lessons for schools that develop topics such as nature, environment, water management, biodiversity, energy, and climate change issues.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
Teacher training is monitored by the Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the National Agency for Education. The Department provides a list of accredited teacher training institutes. More than 70 institutes were certified at the time of this review. In 2022, Vilnius University launched a training (competence development) programme (non-compulsory) for teachers on climate change.
The Development of General Competencies and Life Skills (2008) document includes references to teacher training for sustainable development. The document states that teacher cooperation and interdisciplinary work are essential for successful implementation of general competencies and life skills described. Climate change is one of those competencies, and the Ministry of Education together with its agencies has developed multiple resources to support teachers. Guides were developed in 2009 by the Ministry to help teachers integrate sustainable development into their teaching. The Electronic Library provides resources and guides for teachers and includes lesson plans on learning about global warming and air pollution in Grades 7 and 8.
Together with the updated General Program of Pre-primary Education (2022), prepared for teachers concrete recommendations on how to deliver the updated programs with regards to every subject. The new Program includes more climate change related topics.
The National Agency for Education manages the platform “Mokytojo TV” (en. Teacher’s TV) which has several videos related to climate change.
The Lithuanian Children and Youth Center (renamed as Children and Youth Center of the Capital in 2022) began the Sustainable Schools program in 2014. The program seeks to incorporate sustainable development education into the daily education process and to raise awareness while empowering students with tools linked to environmental protection, social justice, and economic development values. In 2015 the Swedish Business Awards named the program as the best corporate social responsibility of the year. The program was also nominated for the 2018 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development.
Lithuanian teachers actively participate in the Scientix program, a project coordinated by the European Schoolnet and funded by the EU. The Scientix program connects science teachers across Europe and provides teaching materials on climate change and climate action that are accessible via the platform.
Another EU-funded program for teacher training is eTwinning. Via this program, teachers from all over Europe can co-create projects virtually. In 2020, Lithuania won multiple awards for climate change teaching. The winning projects include an educational game about why climate change happens and a school garden.
Lithuanian schools participate in various international ecological education projects (i.e., Baltic Sea project, GLOBE, "Tree Guard", etc.) aimed at air and water research as well as environmental protection and monitoring. Every year national ecology-related projects and competitions are being held and the participation includes pupils from all the municipalities. Teachers participate in various training courses and seminars focused on nature protection, ecology, climate change and other similar topics.
International stakeholders such as the American Institute for Sustainable Communities have developed cooperation initiatives in Lithuania. For instance, the Environmental Education Project aims to support development of environmental education curricula for middle schools and teacher training colleges. Teachers and interested citizens receive training and technical assistance in developing environmental education curriculum, new pedagogical methods, and materials.
Open Access STEAM centers are being set up around the country, 10 will be ready by 2023. These centers are set to organize formal and non-formal education classes, children's education projects, and seminars for teachers' competence development. Even though they are not focused on climate change related topics alone, some of their work is closely connected. For example, one of the labs is dedicated to teach pupils about renewable energy sources.
iii. Climate change in higher education
The Strategy for the National Climate Change Management Policy (2012) includes a list of research institutes and climate change funding priorities. The updated National Climate Change Management Agenda (2021) chapter 8 is dedicated to science and research. The Agenda aims to strengthen research and development to ensure that scientific knowledge is being used to support climate action.
The long-term institutional research and experimental development (R&D) program topics have been approved in 2021 by the Order of the Minister of Education, Science and Sport. The topic of climate change was included in the list of topics foreseen for the State Scientific Research Institute Nature Research Centre and the Lithuanian Energy Institute.
In 2022, concrete institutional scientific and experimental development programs for 2022-2026 have been approved by the Order of the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, namely the 2022-2026 scientific research and experimental development program “The impact of factors caused by climate change and human activity on the state of ecosystems and their functioning, services provided and resource sustainability (Climate and Ecosystems)” (to be implemented by Nature Research Centre) and 2022-2026 research and experimental development program “Interdisciplinary Research on Decarbonization and Adaptation to Climate Change” (to be implemented by the Lithuanian Energy Institute). Various climate change-related aspects and issues are addressed in many other R&D programs for 2022-2026, i.e., “Cultural change and interaction in the 21st century under challenging conditions”, “Agricultural and rural transformations”, “Textile technology and clothing systems”, etc.
According to Vilnius University, in 2020 Lithuanian universities signed an agreement on climate change. They committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, evaluating their campuses, and developing more climate change scientific research. The institutions also aim to collaborate to raise public awareness and strengthen the role of scientists in policy decision-making.
Various universities in Lithuania maintain alliances with other stakeholders. Vilnius University has joined study initiatives with the Arqus European University Alliance, including in climate change events. For example, Vilnius University promoted the workshop on climate change with the Alliance and other European universities. The call invited researchers to cooperate on ongoing research projects, establish priorities, share knowledge, and develop a better understanding and solutions for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
The Kaunas Forestry and Environmental Engineering University of Applied Sciences offers the study program Hydrotechnical Construction that empowers professionals in related climate change areas such as water management, construction work technologies, ecology, environmental protection, environmental impact assessment, preventive pollution reduction measures, energy, and renewable resources.
At Vytautas Magnus University, the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Ecology offers the course Ecology and Climate Change. The course is addressed to graduate students and includes topics in the syllabus on protection of hydro-ecosystems, environmental policy, and nature management, all with a climate change perspective.
The Institute of Green Policy, established in 2011, analyzes topics of circular economy, waste management, renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change, responsible consumption, and develops international cooperation, environmental and ecological education activities by carrying projects on international, national and municipal level. They have organized various seminars and conferences for businesses and general public, as well as educational activities in kindergartens and schools.
The 7th National Communication (2017) indicates that topics of environment protection and global climate change in particular are broadly common in study programs offered by the higher educational institutions in Lithuania. The majority of research institutes and higher education institutions carry out studies under particular categories of research of climate change, such as climate change, factors, impact of and sensitivity to climate change, climate change adaptation and mitigation. The main higher education institutions related to research development in the area of climate change are Vytautas Magnus University, Vilnius University, Klaipėda University, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (LRCAF), Nature Research Centre and others. The communication highlights that Lithuania participates in Erasmus+ programs that improve tertiary education across Europe and the rest of the world through different education mobility opportunities. In addition, the Communication gives many examples of universities that include aspects of climate change in diverse fields, such as the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences integrating climate topics in Bachelor’s degree study programs (public health, livestock technologies, animal science, veterinary medicine) and Master’s degree study programs (public health, public health management).
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Climate national policies in Lithuania usually foster capacity building on climate change matters. For instance, the National Energy and Climate Action Plan (2021–2030) aims to enhance the capacity of environmental bodies and economic operators in the country to correctly identify and classify hazardous waste, among its planned policy measures. The Plan designates the Ministry of Environment to implement environmental training for environment professionals, companies, and business representatives.
The National Climate Change Management Agenda (2021) aims to “include climate change issues in all education programs, train specialists who can competently solve climate change management issues, improve the qualifications of specialists and carry out retraining for working with the most advanced technologies and solutions” (Article 188.8.131.52).
The Ministry of Environment’s website Klimato Kaita provides educational guides on travel that is emission friendly, guides for businesses on how to reduce emissions, and a general guide that explains climate change.
The non-governmental organization Environment Center for Administration and Technology launched in 2020 the project Information of local communities and capacity building in the field of environmental protection and climate change for the communities of the Kaunas district. The project aims at empowering communities to address climate change problems more actively. Project activities include educational seminars, discussions, and conferences.
Lithuania also cooperates internationally with organizations such as the Copernicus Climate Change Service, including on climate learning opportunities. For instance, in 2019, the free training event on how to use the climate data store platform and its content was available online and face-to-face. The event included introductory lessons and an assigned climate change adaptation case study. The training was addressed to professionals using climate data, researchers, scientists, and Master’s and PhD students, who obtained a certificate after completing the training.
According to the 7th National Communication (2017), organizations such as the Kaunas Regional Energy Agency in Lithuania usually offer seminars and events to strengthen capacity of local municipalities and stakeholders. Past events covered topics such as climate change mitigation and adaptation at the local level, mitigation and adaptation in municipalities, and renewable energies.
i. Climate change and public awareness
Lithuania has positioned public awareness as a crucial element of climate change action. The country’s climate change actions are tied to the larger discourse in the EU. Although some climate change activities are unique to Lithuania, most legal and institutional directions are derived from the EU.
According to the National Energy and Climate Action Plan of the Republic of Lithuania for 2021–2030, public awareness can mitigate the effects of climate change by having citizens improve their skills in environmental matters such as waste management. The Ministry of Environment is mandated by laws and regulations to ensure that the public is aware of the climate change crisis and to take actions toward mitigation and adaptation.
In 2013 the Environment and Climate Policy program - LIFE was established in Lithuania. The EU funded the program and allocated US$ 5.56 billion (EUR 5.45 billion) in 2021 to extend the program until 2027. The Environmental Project Management Agency of the Ministry of Environment coordinates the program. Under the LIFE program, Lithuania supports multiple projects related to climate change adaptation and mitigation, including projects that aim to increase the country’s capacity and awareness for climate action.
The Ministry of Environment runs multiple yearly public awareness campaigns for climate change, including International Earth Day on March 20, World Environment Day on June 20, and the Baltic Sea Environment Day on March 22.
Further, the government of Lithuania offers free access to diverse information from most national news and projects, including ministries’ performances. Social media is also a tool to disseminate data. For instance, the Ministry of Environment has Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, where the Ministry posts initiatives, projects, plans, climate change information, awareness campaigns, talks, workshops, participation calls and more.
Aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a priority of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2011) is promoting education on sustainable development and raising awareness about it, including environmental protection and the increase of sustainable activities.
Various institutions and organizations have been organizing climate related events and other initiatives. For example, the Mobile Climate Museum is a project coordinated by the Active Youth Association and Latvijas Dabas Fonds. It traveled through 20 cities of Lithuania (started in May 2022) where the public could visit the interactive museum and also take part in climate related events/debates. The project is aimed at motivating the youth/public to engage in climate politics and climate-friendly lifestyles. In partnership with municipalities, media partners and support of Ministries, the Active Youth Association and Latvijas Dabas Fonds the Mobile Climate Museum is acting as a catalyst for a public debate on ambitious climate policy & EU Green Deal.
Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO is also fostering discussions and public awareness of climate change related topics through the different areas of UNESCO mandate. For example, during “UNESCO week” (September 2022), an event titled “Integrating Climate Change into the Curricula” was organized in which this topic was discussed with the involvement of experts from the Office for Climate Education (OCE) and Italian National Commission for UNESCO, as well as representatives of Lithuanian institutions, academia and youth. Another event of this week was dedicated to the impacts of climate change to cultural and natural heritage.
In its 7th National Communication (2017), Lithuania reports several initiatives and campaigns such as Earth Hour and European Week for Waste Reduction that aim to raise public awareness about climate change. The Communication further reports that
Awareness raising is therefore an important component of the adaptation process to manage the impacts of climate change, enhance adaptive capacity, and reduce overall vulnerability. Public awareness is important to increase enthusiasm and support, stimulate self-mobilisation and action, and mobilise local knowledge and resources. (p. 201)
The country’s 4th Biennial Update Report (2020) discusses behavior change education to mitigate the impacts of climate change through programs focused on energy efficiency, reducing fossil fuel usage, and preventing food waste.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
Climate change has made Lithuania rethink its ways of ensuring public access to information. Just like public awareness actions, public access to information activities is aligned with the legal and institutional requirements of the European Parliament and Council. For example, as part of its European environmental obligations, Lithuania ensures public access to information through online portals that provide information on climate change. One such platform is the Ministry of Environment website, which has a special section on climate change information.
The Ministry of Environment runs the Klimato Kaita (Climate Change) website, which provides publicly accessible information on climate change. The website offers information on the organization of climate action in Lithuania, climate maps and prognostics, and educational information.
In 2012, Lithuania received significant funding from the EU to enhance its access to information systems. The Strategy for the National Climate Change Management Policy (2012) states that Lithuania received funding under the EU structural funds. However, in 2012 there was a lack of clear indicators on whether climate change programs had the intended effects. To address this issue, the updated National Climate Change Management Agenda (2021) aims to report every 2 years on the status of the Agenda and climate action.
A book “100 klausimų apie klimato kaitą“ (100 questions about climate change) has been published in 2019 for the general public. It has been initiated and partly funded by the Ministry of Environment, prepared by scientists. Its electronic version is accessible for free:
Various Lithuanian non-governmental organizations join the Environmental Coalition (akoalicija.lt), supporting each other by exchanging knowledge, experiences, and resources to enhance environmental policies and their implementation. The Environmental Coalition offers free access to information, recompiles data from all organizations, and invites the public to visit those organizations’ websites. Information offered includes climate change data, national news, projects, legislation, future projects, participation calls, videos, and awareness campaigns.
According to the 7th National Communication (2017), public access to information is critical in climate change action and legal rights. The Communication (2017) indicated that
The right of access to information in official documents is a basic civil right protected by the Lithuanian constitution. All legal acts are placed in the internet portal of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (www.lrs.lt). Also legal acts, reports and information related to the climate change topic are available on the internet portal of the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania. (p. 74)
iii. Climate change and public participation
As per the Lithuanian Political Constitution (1992; amended in 2006), the government is a democratic system that guarantees citizens’ right to participate in the governance of their state. People are also allowed to criticize and appeal State institutions’ decisions.
My Government is an official website of the Government of Lithuania where users can find valuable information from public institutions. The site includes a section for dialogue between society and the government, called E-citizen, where people can participate in consultations, the legislative process, and non-governmental activities, among others. Among the Ministry of Environment’s participation options is a consultation for spatial planning and development of the Baltic Sea Region and consultation on the use of fire-fighting foam due to its environmental and human health impacts.
The draft National Energy and Climate Plan (2021–2030) went through a month of public consultation in 2019, inviting citizens to comment on and make suggestions about the measures set out in the Plan and on how the country should achieve the objectives of the energy and climate change management policy.
‘Smart Society’ is a key phrase used in Lithuania 2030 (2020). It stands for an energetic society, a solidarity society, and a learning society. Although Lithuania 2030 only marginally includes climate change, it is an essential document for public participation because its intent is to strengthen democratization and public engagement in Lithuania. The Strategy aims to open decision-making processes further to reach a ‘Smart Society.’
In November of 2019, the Ministry of Environment for the first time organized Climate Week, where scientists, politicians, public figures, and the public were invited to discuss strategic goals and measures of Lithuania’s climate change policy, climate challenges, and opportunities in the forestry, energy, transport, industry, and agriculture sectors. Since then, it has been organized as an annual event.
Non-governmental organizations participate in climate change actions in Lithuania. For example, the Lithuanian Fund for Nature (1991) works to preserve wildlife and natural resources through environmental education. The Fund cooperates with national, municipal, and scientific institutions and other stakeholders. The 7th National Communication (2017) cites participation of non-governmental organizations with the Climate Policy Group in the seminar Climate change projects: new financing opportunities (2017).
A draft order of the Minister of the Environment to encourage the involvement of NGOs with financial incentives, titled “Approval of the Climate change program measure “ was registered in August 2022. The Framework of the financial incentives for non-governmental organizations’ activities and/or actions relevant to the formation of climate policy and informing the public on climate change.
The 7th National Communication (2017) mentions that non-governmental organizations are essential participants in developing climate change policy. For instance, it highlights that they participated actively in preparing the Strategy for the National Climate Change Management Policy and its action plan by presenting comments and participating in the meetings. The importance of individual contributions to protecting the environment is also visible in clean-up campaign “Darom” (en. Let’s Do It) and European Mobility Week, among other campaigns as civic initiatives in Lithuania.
The 7th National Communication (2017) notes that the Public Relations Division of the Ministry of Environment is vital to information dissemination and public involvement. The Communication highlights the efforts of the Ministry of Environment, its departments, and stakeholders to bring information to the public, but also to encourage citizens to collaborate in campaigns, conferences, consultations, and other activities to address climate change.
i. Country monitoring
Lithuania’s updated National Climate Change Management Agenda aims to develop a monitoring and evaluation system for climate change communication and education, according to Article 170.8.1. The Agenda aims to “regularly revise education programmes so that education on the issues of climate change would correspond to the most recent scientific knowledge in this area at all levels of education.”
The Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the National Agency for Education is responsible for education monitoring in Lithuania. The Department publishes regular reports and conducts assessments on the state of the education system. At the time of this review, no information on climate change communication and education was available.
The National Agency for Education runs the Education Management Information System. The System portal provides information on access to the education system in Lithuania. At the time of this review, no data on climate change were available. However, the System provides data on implemented education programs.
Lithuania participated in the 2018 PISA Competence Study. The Study indicates positive results for Lithuanian students’ knowledge of global issues, ranking them among those with the highest awareness of global problems (including climate change and global warming).
According to a 2021 Eurobarometer, more than 52% of Lithuanians expect national governments to tackle climate change. Climate change is considered the second most important threat by Lithuanians, but they are less likely than other European citizens to take personal action against climate change. Nevertheless, 88% agree that something needs to be done to stop climate change.
The OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Lithuania 2021 tracks the country’s performance on environmental affairs, including climate change themes, highlighting the commitments, implemented policies, and efforts of the government to address environmental challenges. The review is essential to strengthen those sectors and policies with gaps, pursuing new challenges in fields such as water pollution, biodiversity conservation, new sectoral plans, and gas emissions and strengthening measures for better civic engagement by education, awareness raising, and access to information.
The National Progress Plan 2021–2030 develops indicators for the Government of Lithuania. One indicator of public participation is the “User satisfaction index of public services of environmental protection institutions (scores).” At the time of this review, no concrete numbers for this indicator were found.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined Lithuania’s National Curriculum Framework and Education Sector Plan for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’
The country’s Education Sector Plan, the General Program Update Guidelines (2021), mentions ‘environment’ 3 times and ‘sustainability’ 14 times. ‘Climate change’ is mentioned once and ‘biodiversity’ is not mentioned.
The National Curriculum Framework is the General Educational Plans of Primary, Primary And Secondary Education Programs for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 Academic Years (2021). The Framework makes reference to the “environment” 15 times. “Climate change", “biodiversity” and “sustainability” are not mentioned.
This profile was reviewed by
Dalia Stabrauskaitė, Education programme coordinator, Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO, (Focal point for collecting data from different institutions to this profile), Lithuania
Vilija Gelažauskaitė, Head of the Division of the European Union and International Organisations, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Lithuania
Margarita Purlienė, National Agency for Education, Lithuania
Jolanta Merkelienė, Advisor, Climate policy group, Ministry of Environment, Lithuania