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
Ecuador is home to around 17.8 million people (2021). The World Bank ranks Ecuador among the countries in Latin America with the highest population growth. About 64% of Ecuadorians live in urban areas, a value that is expected to reach 75% by the 2050s. Most Indigenous people live in the Amazon, the coast, and the Andean region. Fourteen different Indigenous nationalities maintain their language and culture. Ecuador, located near the equator in South America, embraces diverse geography with Amazon jungles, Andean Mountain chains, and coastal areas, including the Galapagos Islands. This gives Ecuador different climates, microclimates, and terrestrial and marine biodiversity.
Ecuador’s 3rd National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) notes that the country is highly vulnerable to climate change. The World Bank notes that Ecuador is vulnerable to climate hazards including floods, droughts, and landslides. The country is affected by El Niño, which is linked to disasters such as floods and landslides. Around 96% of the population lives in coastal and mountainous regions. With a lack of land use and building planning policies, and political instability, Ecuador is highly vulnerable to climate change.
According to the Global Carbon Atlas, Ecuador is a medium-emitting country, emitting 1.6 t CO2 per person in 2020. The highest emissions come from the sectors of energy (including transportation), the forest industry, and agriculture.
Ecuador joined the UNFCCC as a Non-Annex I (non-industrialized) country in 1992. The government ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2000, accepted the Doha Amendment in 2015, and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2017. The country signed and ratified the Escazú Agreement in 208 and 2020 respectively.
ii. Relevant government agencies
Ecuador is committed to strengthening institutional bodies to address climate change. The country tackles climate change through collaborations among government entities and education and private institutions. The National Climate Change Strategy of Ecuador (2012–2025) lists the main actors for climate change in Ecuador, including non-governmental organizations (p. 84; Annex 9).
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition is responsible for guaranteeing Ecuador’s conservation and sustainable development of natural resources. According to the United Nations Environmental Program’s Regional Getaway for Technology and Climate Change Action for Latin America and the Caribbean (REGATTA), the Ministry objectives have included reducing environmental, social, and economic vulnerability to climate change since 2010. The Ministry promotes awareness among the Ecuadorian population and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition is the Undersecretary of Climate Change which leads mitigation and adaptation actions. The Undersecretary aims to ensure awareness raising and training, and it plays an advocacy role (legislative and institutional). It also facilitates the implementation of technology, financing, and communication mechanisms for climate change. The Undersecretary is composed of the Directorate of Climate Change Mitigation, the Directorate of Climate Change Adaptation, and the Directorate of Production and Sustainable Development. Together, they promote, coordinate, and guide climate change policies.
To mainstream climate change policies within Ecuador (provincial, municipal, and parish), the Interinstitutional Committee on Climate Change was formed by the Ministry of Environment, representatives of the Consortium of Provincial Autonomous Governments, and representatives of the Association of Ecuadorian Municipalities. The Interinstitutional Committee coordinates national and international policies for mitigation and adaptation. Article 3 of Decree 495 empowers the Committee to promote education, training, technical assistance, specialization, and dissemination activities on climate variability and climate change issues, with the participation of public, private, community, and civil society nationally and internationally.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock collaborates in climate change matters while working with farmers, the government, and other stakeholders to implement adaptation and mitigation initiatives. The Ministry has worked on projects to monitor extreme changes in productive lands, resilience, deforestation, and to empower the population to better address climate change, among others.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines is aligned to national policies such as national development plans, promoting ecological transitions by comprehensive management of water resources, and sustainable development guidelines, including adaptation and mitigation measures.
Under the Ministry of Public Health scope, the National Directorate of Environment and Health coordinates public policy on environmental health and occupational health. It also fosters measures for analysis, adaptation, and mitigation of the effects and repercussions on human health from exposure to environmental risk factors.
The Political Constitution of Ecuador (1998) started the initiative to institutionalize the National System of Protected Areas from Ecuador, which is attached to the Ministry of Environment. This System includes terrestrial, marine, and protected coastal areas, totaling around 20% of all territory. The System aims to conserve biodiversity, provide alternatives for the sustainable use of natural resources, and contribute to improving the population’s quality of life. Its themes of interest include climate change.
The National Planning Secretariat is responsible for effectively planning national objectives and promoting Ecuador’s development. The Secretariat is committed to boosting Ecuador’s development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including climate change.
The Government of Ecuador went through a decentralization process from 1998 to 2008. Thanks to this, policy mainstreaming supports the inclusion of climate change initiatives among all state bodies. For instance, the National Planning Council formed the Decentralized National System of Participatory Planning. The Council is composed of the President of the Republic, members of ministerial bodies, and citizens. The Council is responsible for legislating the policies that guide Ecuador’s development by approving National Development Plans. The Opportunity Creation Plan, Ecuador’s National Development Plan 2021–2025, highlights the role of the Decentralized System in the interactions among government sectors. The Plan focuses on a resilient development process to climate change.
The Consortium of Provincial Autonomous Governments promotes building capacity for provincial governments to close territorial gaps and increase sustainable development. The Consortium promotes climate change initiatives such as the Provincial Action Against Climate Change, which boosts implementation of mitigation and adaptation to climate change policies through the 23 provinces of Ecuador. Its specific objectives are to generate or update Provincial Climate Change Strategies and promote the management of knowledge, exchange of experiences, and dissemination of sound environmental practices for provincial governments.
Education and communication
In Ecuador, education is public and compulsory between basic general education and high school (5/6 to 17/18 years old). The Ministry of Education provides and manages education in cooperation with its decentralized departments. The Ministry supports an inclusive education system to reach the entire population. The National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) highlights the joint efforts of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environment on environmental education, including climate change. The Ministry of Environment also has climate change projects that include climate change education through academic research, campaigns, and participation in education plans.
The Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation aims to increase access to higher education and promote research in areas to benefit academic and productive sectors. The Secretariat supports climate change initiatives, especially on strengthening capacities and research. It is important to point out that in the past decade the Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation played an important role in attracting national and international talent for the creation of research and teaching networks in the country, through the PROMETEO Project. On the other hand, the Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation archives and recognizes higher education and third-cycle qualifications for both nationals and visiting teachers.
The National Directorate of Continuous Training is part of the Ministry of Education. It is responsible for vocational and technical education and organizes lifelong learning education.
In Ecuador, the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses collects and tracks national information about sociodemographic, economic, education, and environmental matters. The Institute researches, studies, plans, produces and disseminates national statistics that enhance socioeconomic analysis and support national planning.
The National System of Protected Areas from Ecuador supports scientific research and environmental education, which is a fundamental pillar of interactions with citizens both inside and around protected areas. Although climate change is not included in its education programs, the System focuses on the vital role of protected areas in climate change.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
Ecuador’s Political Constitution (2008) was the first in history to grant rights to nature, respecting its existence and conservation. Climate change matters were included in Article 414, guaranteeing adequate and universal measures to mitigate this global issue and protect people at risk. Article 14 refers to the right of people to live in a healthy and ecological environment that enhances sustainability and the good living / plentiful life (‘Sumak Kawsay’)’ This ancient perspective looks toward just and equitable development aligned with sustainable management of natural resources. The concept of Sumak Kawsay has been implemented in the national policy framework, including the education system and climate change guidelines.
Decree 1815 (2009) established that adaptation and mitigation of climate change is considered a state policy, which means that it holds supreme relevance and will guide the state’s actions to achieve specific climate approaches. The Decree empowered the Ministry of Environment to formulate and execute measures to raise awareness. The update to Decree 1815, Decree 095 (2012) declared as state policy the National Climate Change Strategy of Ecuador (2012-2025).
In 2012, the National Climate Change Strategy of Ecuador (2012-2025) was launched, aiming to guide the actions and policies Ecuador needs to be prepared for extreme climate events that make most sectors of the country vulnerable. Section 6 of the Strategy outlines three instruments: The Plan of Creation and Strengthening of Conditions, the National Mitigation Plan, and the National Adaptation Plan. The Strategy aims to create and strengthen conditions in the short term by offering climate change information to the public, raising awareness, building capacity, and facilitating mechanisms, technologies, and funding for climate change activities. All this is to empower the population and institutional bodies to better implement adaptation and mitigation plans in the medium-to-long terms.
In 2015, Ecuador adopted a National Strategy for the Change of the Productive Matrix that aims at more responsible management of resources and adoption of regulations and incentives for higher environmental standards, eco efficiency, and environmentally friendly practices contributing to addressing climate change.
In 2017, the Organic Environmental Code established national environmental guidelines, including practical and mainstreaming policies to address the effects of climate change by mitigation and adaptation actions. The Code protects the population’s right to live in a healthy environment and the State’s duty to achieve it through plans and strategies, including climate change matters. The Code depends on Ministry of Environment leadership to plan, regulate, manage, and coordinate the national decentralized environmental management system. This means that the Ministry also coordinates implementation and enhancement of guidelines such as environmental education and research, citizen participation in environmental management, and the Single Environmental Information System.
The Regulation of the Organic Environmental Code (2019) complements and regulates the Code. Together, they support climate change management in Ecuador and include Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) initiatives to build citizens capable of managing climate change matters. The Code and Regulation consider environmental education to be a universal key, through the national strategies, plans, and projects for formal and informal education in Ecuador that include climate change as one thematic approach to environmental education.
Climate change initiatives have been part of Ecuador’s National Development Plans since the First National Development Plan (2007–2010). The National Planning Secretariat is in charge of presenting the Voluntary National Report on SDGs and the Progress Reports on Compliance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ecuador’s National Development Plans have mainstreamed the ‘Sumak Kawsay’ (plentiful life or Good-Living) ancestral term, including good environmental and climate change practices in parallel to the country's development. For instance, the National Plan for Good Living (National Development Plan, 2017–2021) promoted an economy and development aligned to sustainable principles, guaranteeing the rights of nature by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, promoting nature conservation, and mitigation and adaptation through climate change practices.
Among the objectives of the Opportunity Creation Plan (National Development Plan 2021–2025) the government aims to implement measures that empower Ecuador with adaptation and mitigation procedures. The goal is a sustainable economy through clean energies, transportation, and a resilience to climate change, reducing vulnerability to climate change.
In parallel to Ecuador’s 1st Nationally Determined Contributions (2019), the Implementation Plan of the 1st Nationally Determined Contributions (2020–2025) encourages all national and sectoral actors to collaborate with the global commitment of addressing climate change. Both documents aim to increase Ecuador’s adaptive capacity and reduce climate change effects, while also attending to national circumstances in a context of equity, sustainable development, and the eradication of poverty.
In 2021, the Government of Ecuador presented the National Climate Finance Strategy, which enhances the management, allocation, and effective mobilization of international, national, public, and private climate financing to achieve climate change objectives. Its strategies are established according to Agenda 2030.
The project Provincial Action Against Climate Change encourages all 23 provincial governments in Ecuador to present Provincial Climate Change Strategies. They are guided by the Methodology Guide for Provincial Climate Change Strategies that follows the SDGs. They conduct surveys on possible legislation to develop strategies, including promoting climate change education and training, raising awareness, and disseminating information.
Education and communication
Ecuador launched the Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information in 2004, which guarantees and regulates the fundamental right of people to access information in the democratization of Ecuadorian society.
Ecuador’s Organic Law of Intercultural Education (2011) guarantees inclusive and equal education to its citizens, following geographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity and respecting the rights of communities, people, and nationalities.
The National Curriculum Framework (2016, with amendments in 2019) supports all levels of education, from preparatory to the high school level. The Framework aims to promote development and socialization of new generations through its education guidelines. The Framework mainstreams an environmental pedagogical process throughout all education levels, including climate change approaches, especially at higher levels.
The Institutional Strategy Plan (2018–2021) published by the National Institute of Educational Evaluation encourages an internal and external evaluation of the national education system and its components to improve education quality. The Plan mentions the National Development Plans as Ecuador’s planning instruments that will guarantee citizens’ rights for access to quality education. The Plan does not refer to climate change, although it aligns with the National Plan for Good Living (National Development Plan, 2017–2021), which includes education and climate change matters.
Ecuador’s National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) supports environmental education for students of all levels, incorporating environmental education in public and private institutions, strengthening the environmental dimension in academic training, and promoting education and training resources to facilitate knowledge development, behaviors, and socio-environmental practices. The Strategy has an environmental education approach that intrinsically includes climate change as the most significant environmental problem for the planet. The Strategy considers the media as a main sector to facilitate development of its plans.
Since 2010, Ecuador has aimed to strengthen public policy to reduce risks for the education community from threats of natural origin, implementing policies and actions at schools. For instance, the National Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction in Education (2018–2030) aligns with the SDGs and aims to empower the education community with preventive, adaptive, and rehabilitation knowledge and skills to respond in a resilient way to emergency and disaster situations.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
A continuous national effort through documents and projects has enhanced climate change inclusion in communication and education as a priority. Ecuadorian policies use terms such as ‘climate change,’ ‘environmental education,’ and ‘environmental information.’
‘Climate change education’ has been considered in policies as a national approach. For example, in the National Climate Change Strategy (2012–2025), one objective is to “Promote the development of formal education modules on climate change to be inserted in the regular study programs in all educational institutions.” (p. 76).
The Organic Environmental Code includes the term ‘climate change’ multiple times and aims to enhance communication and education on climate change. For instance, Article 26 empowers the Provincial Decentralized Autonomous Governments to develop dissemination and education programs on climate change problems.
Ecuador’s 3rd National Communication clearly includes education measures to address climate change, in a section on climate change education and public awareness. The Communication highlights Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) work by ministries:
Through the Undersecretary of Climate Change, the Ministry of Environment has worked on strengthening knowledge, regulation, capacities, and the participation of public, private, and social civil actors in facing the causes and effects of climate change at the national and subnational level. (p. 539)
The National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) mentions ‘climate change’, but it defines environmental education as
a strategy for the dissemination, awareness, and training of citizens; In this way, it supports and strengthens the concept of sustainable development, based on a long-term perspective where the exploitation of natural resources is no longer aimed at, but rather proper management of them, considering the needs of future generations. (p. 4)
Some levels of the National Curriculum Framework (2016) include the term ‘climate change,’ but they also use ‘socio-environmental crises.’ For instance, the Medium Sublevel of Basic General Education (2016) indicates that one objective of Natural Science is to “Integrate the concepts of biological sciences, chemical, physical, geological and astronomical, to understand science, technology, and society, linked to ability invent, innovate and provide solutions to the socio-environmental crisis.” (p. 216)
The National Plan for Good Living (National Development Plan, 2017–2021) sees environmental information and education as a tool to pursue the welfare of future generations: “Access to information and environmental education constitute the basis for an informed, committed, and co-responsible citizenry in the processes of changing consumption patterns and habitat management.“ (p. 56).
The Ecuadorian Political Constitution (2008) includes the ancestral term ‘Sumak Kawsay,’ which can be interpreted as ‘the plentiful life’ or ‘good-living.’ Part of Sumak Kawsay is the concept of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). Translations of the term vary between the good life and the plentiful live. In 2008, several national policies implemented the term. The 3rd National Communication mentions that its inclusion in the National Development Plans has made significant improvements in the living conditions of citizens while promoting responsible use of resources for the indefinite prolonging of human cultures in peace and harmony with nature. The National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) notes the importance of the ‘plentiful life’ term in the education system:
‘[the plentiful life]’ is an essential axis of education in the way that the educational process must contemplate the preparation of future citizens for a society inspired by the principles of Good-living, that is, a democratic, equitable, inclusive, peaceful society that promotes interculturality, is tolerant of diversity and respectful of nature. (p. 35)
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
The World Bank notes that Ecuador allocated ~4.1% of gross domestic product in 2020 to education, but no funds were specifically allocated to climate change communication and education.
The 2021 Budget states that Ecuador had planned to invest US$ 117,084.43 for adaptation and mitigation matters, however only invested US$ 8,900.98 in 2021. The Budget does not include a specific budget for climate change communication and education.
The Organic Environmental Code and the Regulation of the Code empower the Ministry of Environment to oversee the national fund for environmental management in Ecuador. The Ministry allocates financial plans, projects, and activities to research, conservation, sustainable management of the environment, biodiversity, and mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
Although the National Climate Finance Strategy (2021) does not directly include climate change communication and education, it promotes funding for capacity building and strengthening of knowledge on climate change. It also highlights international and national institutions that support climate change communication and education.
The Sustainable Environmental Investment Fund does not mention the amount of money allocated to climate change education, but the fund does invest in innovation and capacity building for environmental management. Among its funded projects is the Ecuador Protected Areas Fund, which also supports the National System of Protected Areas from Ecuador that works with environmental education and climate change initiatives for protected areas.
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
According to the Political Constitution (2008), education is a people’s right and a state’s duty. It is a priority area to guarantee equality and social inclusion and an essential condition for ‘the plentiful / good life’ (Sumak Kawsay).
The Organic Environmental Code has a strong focus on environmental education and empowers the State framework to include and create education material on climate change. Article 248 establishes the purpose of the State in terms of climate change, including development of education programs and research on climate change.
Ecuador has tremendous cultural diversity, including 14 Indigenous nations. The education system has implemented the National Intercultural Bilingual Curriculums, highlighting the importance of all linguistic and cultural groups in Ecuador. The curriculums are written in their native language. The Expansion of the Curriculum for the Intercultural Bilingual High School Level (Bachillerato), does not mention climate change but does include environmental education, especially in Natural Science. For instance, a Biology objective is that “students will identify and reflect on the social importance, economic and environmental of biodiversity considering primary forests, to identify the problems and challenges of Ecuador in the face of the sustainable management of its natural heritage.” (p. 122).
The National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) encourages the national education system to consolidate environmental culture and awareness at all levels of the education community. The Strategy mentions inclusion of ‘the plentiful life’ in the education system as a universal guiding principle that interacts with education in two ways: to guarantee equal opportunities for all people and to train future citizens for a society inspired by the principle of ‘the plentiful life.’ The Strategy considers the need in the curriculum for more education projects linked to environmental realities, in addition to formal environmental education projects to determine the extent of environmental cognitive learning. Action learning dimensions must be improved. The Strategy considers climate change as a current environmental problem.
The Plan of Creation and Strengthening of Conditions of the National Climate Change Strategy of Ecuador (2012-2025) aims to mainstream climate change modules in all levels of formal education as regular study programs in all education institutions.
Ecuador’s education system starts at the pre-primary level. The Initial Education Curriculum (2014) includes objectives related to environmental protection and respect, taught through a behavior learning dimension. Children between 3- and 5-years old experiment with curiosity in ecological conservation actions such as throwing the garbage in its place, saving water, and caring for animals.
General primary education, for children 5 to 14 years old, is split into four groups: Preparatory, Elementary, Middle, and Higher Basic Education. The National Curriculum Framework (2016) is divided by age group, with progressively more environmental and climate change education. The Preparatory Basic Education and Elemental Basic Education curricula do not include climate change sections. Instead, environmental perspectives are developed, such as cultural duties and rights to natural environments and environmental conservation guidelines to build responsible citizens. Middle Basic Education and Higher Basic Education include climate change in the Natural and Social Sciences. Students gain general knowledge of the current environmental crisis, global warming, and side effects, to empower them with solution creation skills and a climate justice perspective. Students generate critical thinking about the anthropic causes of this global problem to improve future decision making. 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 Secondary School Level (Bachillerato; 2019) curriculum covers the last three years of secondary school. It focuses on continuous learning for students to develop thinking perspectives linked to sustainable development in daily living. For instance, one Biology objective is to
Orient behavior towards responsible attitudes and practices for the socio-environmental impacts produced by anthropic activities, which prepare students for decision making founded in favor of sustainable development, to act with respect and responsibility towards resources of our country. (p. 169)
The Secondary School Level (Bachillerato) includes Technical High School Curricula in some areas. Agriculture includes a Conservation and Natural Resources Management curriculum, which involves an environmental learning perspective through a cognitive and action learning process. Students cover modules/projects that include environmental legal frameworks, sustainable development, environmental education, citizen participation, development of new strategies, and prevention and mitigation of environmental side effects. The aim is for students to be able to act and participate in conservation and environmental management locally and nationally.
Thanks to the Galapagos Agreement for Education and implementation of a sustainability emphasis in the Galapagos Curriculum, students from the four islands are encouraged to learn from an early age about how to conserve their valuable territory. The curriculum plans were developed cooperatively by stakeholders in the islands following three axes—economy, environment, and society—and align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Within the Galapagos Curriculum levels, climate change is found in subjects such as Social Sciences and Natural Sciences, including sub-themes such as socio-political factors that affect the climate crisis, adaptation, mitigation, and promotion of favorable activities to address climate change.
The Earth for All Environmental Education Program was announced in September 2017 by the Ministry of Education to strengthen environmental culture and awareness in the education sector. Under a group formed by academia, government, and non-governmental entities, the Program focuses on three specific action lines: implement new pedagogical methods for environmental education, enhance curriculums with an environmental emphasis, and implement sound environmental practices in the national education system. Through the Program, over 10.000 schools have implemented guidelines such as the TINI Methodology, giving students opportunities to plant and take care of gardens and green pedagogic spaces at school, among the targets TINI Methodology is the resilience against climate change . The students develop skills, empathy, and knowledge to live in harmony with nature. The Manual of Good Environmental Practices for Educational Institutions aims to raise awareness and encourage the community to practice more environmentally friendly actions. The manual applies both cognitive and action learning dimensions, promoting campaigns, seminars, and environmental activities at school.
In 2017, the 3rd National Communication mentioned the limited climate change education in curriculums to enhance climate change management in Ecuador, highlighting the need to strengthen existing environmental education curriculums.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
The Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation has an essential role in Ecuador’s higher education, pursuing two fundamental pillars: academic quality and scientific research. The Secretariat collaborates in climate change initiatives in higher education through scholarships, project financing, pedagogical training, and research.
The Organic Environmental Code and the Regulation of the Organic Environmental Code designate the Ministry of Environment to promote scientific research in higher education institutions. This aims to encourage cooperation among institutions to generate and collect environmental information. Neither document mentions climate change education in higher education specifically, but climate change is intrinsic to their environmental education approaches. The Ministry can promote new initiatives in the education system, and research can be linked to current national environment situations.
The National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) supports incorporating and strengthening environmental education in higher education. The Strategy promotes a comprehensive diagnosis for inclusion of environmental considerations and sustainability in universities. It highlights that around 94% of colleges and polytechnic schools offer undergraduate courses focused on environmental issues. About 70% offer Master’s degrees in environmental matters, including environmental management. The Strategy considers climate change an environmental problem, thus climate change initiatives are likely within higher education institutions offering study of environmental issues.
Decentralized entities are also increasing climate change education in cooperation with other organizations at a higher level. For example, the Undersecretary of Climate Change, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Central University of Ecuador jointly brought the course Regional Health and Climate to address public health and its close relationship with the behavior of the climate at a technical level.
The National Climate Finance Strategy (2021) collected information from 19 academic institutions that implemented specialization programs, postgraduate programs, research centers, or climate change activities. The initiatives are the Course on International Financing for Climate Change and Resilience in Cities, Master in Climate Change, Agriculture and Sustainable Rural Development, and Specialization in Leadership, Climate Change, and Cities.
The Simon Bolivar Andean University offers three postgraduate programs in the Environment and Sustainability. A Master’s in Climate Change, Sustainability and Development and a Specialization in Politics on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services train professionals through interdisciplinary work in social and natural sciences. This empowers them with critical insights to generate and apply efficient policies on climate change and related matters. A Master’s in Political Ecology and Development Alternatives also offers climate change courses within the program.
Ecuador’s 1st Biennial Update Report (2016) mentions the need to establish an agenda of short courses, webinars, Master’s degrees, and doctorates focused on climate change, supported by scholarship programs of the Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. These strengthen capacity building and technical assistance for clean development and mitigation of climate change. The Secretariat offers scholarships for study programs and training related to climate change, such as Global Warming, Mitigation, and Adaptation by Balancing Sustainable Energy Management and Low Carbon Scenario Development: Waste Management Under Crisis Situations.
Ecuador’s 3rd National Communication highlights the Master’s Program in Climate Change offered by the Higher Polytechnic School of the Littoral. That Program teaches mitigation and adaptation policy making with a statistical, economic, and project management approach. The National Communication suggested that education and diffusion of climate change management should be promoted by permanent programs and by including the subject in the curricula of education institutions, including higher education institutions.
iii. Climate change in higher education
The National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) highlighted the gap in teacher training on environmental matters in the national education framework. The Strategy includes designing, implementing, and evaluating training and updating programs for managers and teachers, including planning, content, and methods for 2019–2030. This review found no specific update about this approach, but the newspaper El Comercio mentions broad participation in teacher training on climate change matters. This is part of mainstreaming of environmental education for sustainable development within the Strategy’s goal dates.
The Plan of Creation and Strengthening of Conditions from the National Climate Change Strategy (2012–2025) involves enhancing climate change training in public and private groups, including the formal education sector and specialized training. Among the institutions that collaborate on development of this Plan are the Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of Environment.
The Earth for All Environmental Education Program supports teacher training through new methods for pedagogical environmental education. The Program aims to mainstream environmental and climate change training in national institutions. It mentions that from 2017 to 2018, 2019 lecturers took environmental training courses.
The program Continuous Training is chaired by the National Directorate of Continuous Training, which aims to strengthen teachers’ professional performance by offering training activities and courses. Environmental Education is among the courses offered, which boosts environmental culture and awareness in the education community. The syllabus includes climate change, natural heritage, marine awareness, and environmental projects. According to the newspaper El Comercio, 154,860 lecturers obtained climate change education training through Continuous Training between June 2018 and May 2021.
Under Ministry of Education initiatives, tips are given to managers and teachers on avoiding the use of paper products in administrative activities and promoting the use of information and communication technologies. Students are encouraged to practice environmentally friendly actions through holidays such as Arbor Day and awareness campaigns to reduce the use of paper.
In 2017, Ecuador’s 3rd National Communication mentioned the Ministry of Education‘s priority to improving teacher training and docents’ wages and increasing training hours. The Communication also highlighted the increase in benefits from teachers holding international Master’s degrees.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
The Regulation of the Organic Environmental Code, Article 27, designates the Ministry of Environment to identify and manage technical and financial mechanisms for developing training programs, including initiatives in the National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030). The Strategy includes environmental training for technicians, the general public, government personnel, and institutions.
The Ministry of Environment is well-known for training processes in its decentralized institutions. For instance, in 2019 seven workshops built capacity for 60 technical staff from the Undersecretary of Climate Change, allied government entities, and cooperative projects on climate change issues. The workshop topics were gender equality in climate change projects, violence as a limit in constructing resilient capacities and actions to address climate change, and examples of responses that integrate gender and climate change.
The National System of Protected Areas from Ecuador includes capacity building among their themes of interest. The System has offered the program Green Classroom since 2012, focusing on training officials who work in protected areas, such as park rangers, area chiefs, wildlife managers, and administrative staff. The training offers themes like threats in protected areas, fire control, and communication. Although climate change is not explicit in the program, it is one of the System’s themes of interest.
The Ecuadorian Environmental Training Service offers online and face-to-face courses. The Forestry, Ecology, and Environment section provides a training course on Environmental Management for the public and is developing modules in Environmental Legislation and Environmental Management Systems, but currently offers no specific course on climate change.
In the agricultural sector, government ministries worked together on new initiatives in adaptation to climate change. The Didactic Guide for the Use of Brochures and Videos, the Resilient Andes to Climate Change (2021) increases and articulates the capacities of public and private actors to provide services for improving the resilience and adaptation capacity to climate change of Andean rural populations.
In 2019, the international Foundation Ensemble implemented the project Enabling Communities in the Andes to Adapt to Climate Change, through the Management, Conservation and Restoration of the Paramos in the canton Pedro Moncayo. The Project develops assessments, conducts reforesting, and offers field schools and sustainable technical assistance for communities and families on farming techniques that are resilient to climate change and on improving living conditions. The Provincial Decentralized Autonomous Governments also receive technical support for Paramos ecosystem management and productive development, to draw up regulations, methods and tools that ensure land use planning aligns with good practices for climate change adaptation.
In the program ProAmazonia, stakeholders such as REDD+ Ecuador, the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock collaborate on training strategies for Ecuador’s communities, Indigenous nations, and cultural groups. For example, the Climate Change Training Guide teaches the nature of climate change, the greenhouse effect, and how to address these matters (mitigation and adaptation to climate change). This strengthens the capacities of groups on climate change, reducing deforestation and degradation of forests.
According to Ecuador’s 3rd National Communication, the Ministry of Environment and the Undersecretary of Climate Change have worked to strengthen public and private actors’ knowledge, regulation, capacities, and participation. By December 2015, 130,854 people benefited from training on measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Ecuador’s Nationally Determined Contribution (2019) highlights promotion of capacity building at the national level for diverse institutions that are key actors in mitigating and adapting to climate change. The Contributions also support implementation of a gender and climate change action plan, focusing on generating capacities to close gaps in social and gender aspects.
i. Climate change and public awareness
Among Ecuador’s Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) approaches, the Organic Environmental Code (2017) raises awareness among the Ecuadorian public. Under this legislation, the Ministry of Environment is encouraged to design and promote awareness programs on climate change management. The Ministry must consider Ecuador’s official intercultural languages when implementing programs.
The Government has mainstreamed climate change actions that raise awareness through policies and strategies. For example, the National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development mentions that the Ministry of Environment included raising awareness strategies in 2010–2014, linked with the National Plan for the Plentiful Life (National Development Plan; 2009–2013). The Ministry had objectives to “Raise awareness among the population about the causes and effects of climate change and promote, through education processes for productive and social sectors, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.” (p. 43). The Strategy emphasizes incorporating non-formal education processes in national and local planning entities to achieve awareness and other environmental objectives.
In 2013, the Ministry of Environment launched the Personal Ecological Footprint Calculator initiative. Any user can enter their individual consumption, evaluate the impact of their activities on the environment, and receive feedback on alternatives to improve their consumption of resources.
The program ProAmazonia highlights its support of Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action). The Program works on related projects in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to reduce deforestation. The Program also promotes sustainable and integrated management of natural resources, contributing to eradicating poverty and sustainable human development.
Different stakeholders foster mechanisms such as conferences to raise awareness about climate change in Ecuador. For instance, the Good Plan events platform promoted the 2020 virtual conference Climate Change Education, Ecuador 2020 to disseminate knowledge about climate change and its impacts on the planet, ecosystems, and human beings.
Aligning with Ecuador’s 1st Biennial Update Report (2016), the country uses awareness strategies to reach the public for significant impact. The Report notes actions of promoting waste management and reducing environmental pollution through strategies, plans, training, awareness, and encouragement activities for the actors involved. The Report notes that Ecuador’s National Communications have advanced climate change lines of action such as policy making, communication, and awareness raising, through a systematic development process.
The Nationally Determined Contribution (2019) includes several awareness raising programs for climate change adaption. The Contributions state that the country is developing materials and other campaigns to educate the public about topics such as health, water, and waste issues related to climate change.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
In Ecuador, Article 81 of the Political Constitution guarantees the right to access sources of information related to events of general interest. The Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information (2004) strengthens the legislation and compliance for citizen participation, democracy through access to information, and oversight of an effective public administration.
The country also signed and ratified the Escazú Agreement, which aims to make environmental information more transparent and enhance public participation.
The Organic Environmental Code (Article 19) sees the Single Environmental Information System as an informative tool to integrate all the information in one place and regulate environmental activities at the national level. For example, the Ministry of Environment has a website offering data nationwide from undersecretaries, national plans, and climate change management, and interactive maps with environmental information.
Ecuador’s National Information System offers an excellent variety of information for the public, including on climate change matters. Users can find national and international news, government documents, statistics, national plans, projects, international documents, and legal documents.
People can easily access free information on the website the National System of Protected Areas from Ecuador, which offers official national documents, news, research, environmental education programs, protected areas lists and programs, and the System’s approaches and achievements. The site also includes information on the symbiosis between climate change and protected areas.
The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses collects technical information about multiple national subjects in Ecuador. The Institute does not mention climate change directly but includes an environmental section that offers statistics to the public about extreme events/disasters, waste management, water, and energy consumption.
The Ministry of Environment supports climate change awareness on its social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, posting news, future environmental/climate change programs, images to raise awareness, climate change talks, material on the importance of protected areas, relevant climate news, and earth dates.
The continuity of actions established by the National Climate Change Strategy (2012–2025), in its Plan of Creation and Strengthening of Conditions, promote access to understandable information on climate change to raise awareness through knowledge management.
In 2016, Ecuador’s 1st Biennial Update Report highlighted the need to strengthen and create more information systems and technological platforms to manage knowledge on climate change. The aim is to facilitate access to information for the public and policy makers.
Ecuador’s 3rd National Communication (2017) indicates that the country has had significant achievements in creating and managing information, indicators, and databases. It highlights the extensive work of institutions such as the Ministry of Environment, the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, the Single Environmental Information System, and the National Planning Secretariat.
iii. Climate change and public participation
Ecuador is a democracy, and the government enhances public participation as a guaranteed fundamental right, prioritizing ‘the plentiful life’ (Sumak Kawsay) for citizens.
The Ministry of the Environment fosters public participation in decision making for future projects and plans. For instance, the Ministry called on citizens in April 2021 to collaborate with comments and feedback in elaborating the Ecuador Zero Carbon Program. This Program aims to achieve the goals established in the Paris Agreement and in compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals. The Ministry also considered public and private proposals to develop the National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) and include concrete inputs and proposals for links to society’s interests.
The Organic Environmental Code and its Regulation of the Organic Environmental Code guarantee people’s participation in environmental management, planning, and decision making. They encourage mechanisms such as Sectoral Citizen Councils and Local Advisory Councils, formed by civil society representatives, communities, peoples, and Indigenous nations.
Under a participatory process, the Ministry of Environment developed the 1st Nationally Determined Contributions (2019) with the support of around 150 stakeholders from society, academia, the private and public sectors, and international collaborators. The Contributions define policies to address climate change in a more resilient way, prioritizing adaptation and mitigation sectors.
The Ministry of Environment highlights that, by the end of 2021, six provinces of Ecuador had implemented a Local Advisory Council. These Councils are participation spaces to prepare provincial environmental diagnoses, design provincial environmental education plans, and build awareness activities. Two Councils have already implemented Provincial Environmental Plans. As an example, the Provincial Environmental Education Plan from Imbabura (2020–2025) has among its objectives the inclusion of climate change in environmental education processes.
Through the UNESCO program Futures for Education (2019), the Ministry of Education has considered citizens’ perspectives on the education system through a participatory consultation of the education community. The consultation aims to promote debate on how to improve learning processes while facing complex global issues such as climate change and health emergencies like COVID-19.
Citizen participation is among the principles that guide implementation of the National Climate Change Strategy (2012–2025), which encourages Ecuadorians to take part in a committee on climate change matters:
All Ecuadorian men and women can contribute to managing the response to climate change; therefore, it will be sought that all the people and organizations are actively and positively involved in implementing mitigation and adaptation measures and actions to climate change. (p. 36)
The National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030) focuses one action line on building better citizen participation through education. The Strategy highlights that public participation is a tool to involve people in making decisions and developing strategy for problem-solving.
i. Country monitoring
Ecuador’s government has committed to mainstreaming and strengthening climate change and education policies, which enhances the following of continuous lines of action and the tracking of processes more effectively.
The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses collaborates with information to track Ecuador’s actions, disasters, and environmental processes. For example, the Census about Environmental-Economic in Provincial Decentralized Autonomous Governments (2021) monitored the monetary investments in environmental management to design, maintain, improve, and plan policies linked to Ecuador’s sustainability. The census collected information on the government’s performance, environmental actions, plans, and implemented projects.
The National Planning Secretariat plays a vital role in enhancing the development of Ecuador’s entire area, monitoring national and international strategies and plans to improve their performance. For instance, the Secretariat compiles the Progress Reports on Compliance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2019), overseeing all the approaches and progress related to the Sustainable Development Goals.
In accordance with the National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2017–2030), education monitoring systems establish the level of environmental commitment in the education community. The Strategy emphasizes that this activity becomes a process sustained over time to compare advances and setbacks. Some of the Strategy’s results in studying the perceptions of the Basic General Education Curriculum indicate a need to adjust all subjects in the levels of basic general education and secondary education. The study included interdisciplinary participation from entities such as the Ministry of Environment, to enhance and include environmental education and monitoring of climate change education.
The Ministry of Education collects information and tracks education processes over time on the platform Open Data, which offers free public access. The platform assesses institutions’ needs, dropout and graduation rates, curriculum inclusion, and economic and demographic indicators, among other information that helps improve the Ecuadorian education system.
Under the Consortium of Provincial Autonomous Governments and its initiative Provincial Action Against Climate Change, the provinces are encouraged to implement Provincial Assessments of Climate Change. These assessments evaluate current provincial situations for climate change and enhance the process of the Provincial Climate Change Strategies. All 23 provinces launched their Strategies by 2019, but public access to them is limited, so this report could not track climate change communication and education in those assessments.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The MECCE Project examined Ecuador’s 2016 National Curriculum Framework (split into four age groups), the Institutional Strategy Plan (2018–2021), and the 2016 Secondary School Level (Bachillerato) Curriculum for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment, ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’
‘Climate change’ is mentioned 34 times within all levels of the National Curriculum Framework. ‘Environment’ is mentioned 426 times, sustainability 8 times, and biodiversity 8 times.
In the Institutional Strategy Plan, ‘climate change’ is not mentioned, ‘environment’ is mentioned 3 times, ‘sustainability’ is mentioned twice, and ‘biodiversity’ is not mentioned.
In the last 3 years of the Secondary School Level (Bachillerato) Curriculum, ‘environment’ 20 times, ‘biodiversity’ 33 times‘, ‘sustainability’ 14 times , and climate change’ is mentioned 9 times.
This profile was reviewed by Javier Collado, Dean of Educational Innovation and Entrepreneurship, National University of Education (UNAE), Ecuador and Luis Jordá Bordehore, Professor, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain.