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
According to the Climate Change Policy (2012), the Tuvalu islands’ vulnerability to climate change impacts and associated disasters is profound due to their geography and their limited ecological, socio-economic, and technological capacities. Tuvalu’s average height above sea level is under 2 meters and the World Bank lists sea level rise, tropical cyclones, and drought as key climate risks. Further, the country’s National Communication (2015) highlights its vulnerability to coastal erosion, water insecurity, damage to coral reefs and fisheries, food insecurity, poor human health, and poor waste management. Tuvalu’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (2007) adds the challenge of salt-water intrusion threatening agriculture to this list.
The World Bank notes that with a population of only 11,000, around half of whom reside on the main island of Funafuti, Tuvalu’s greenhouse gas emissions are among the lowest in the world. The Global Carbon Atlas reports that Tuvalu’s emissions were 1.1tCO2 per person in 2019.
The National Communication (2015) states that the energy sector, which includes the transport sub-sector, contributes 100% of CO2 emissions, while the waste and agriculture sectors contribute to methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
Tuvalu ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994 and is a non-Annex I (non-Industrialized) country. The country signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, accepted the Doha Amendment in 2014, and signed and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016.
According to the country’s National Environment Management Strategy, "Tuvalu has developed valuable Indigenous knowledge and practices. These can contribute positively to the sustainable use and effective management of natural resources and the environment” (2015, p. 5). The Strategy goes on to say that “these Indigenous practices are important elements of Tuvalu’s culture, heritage, and national identity, including in relation to protecting and managing biodiversity across country’s islands, which also supports indigenous knowledge, practices and innovation" (p. 5). One of the Strategy’s education and awareness goals is to "preserve and apply traditional knowledge" with targets to document “traditional knowledge such as navigational skills, weather predictions, and also on environment conservation [and] organise yearly training on traditional knowledge and its relationship to environment" (p. 12).
Similarly, Tuvalu’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) is called ‘Te Kete,’ which means “basket” in Tuvaluan, and includes a focus on preserving traditional knowledge to build a resilient future.
ii. Relevant government agencies
Given the small size of Tuvalu’s government and the significant impacts of climate change on the country, climate change is addressed by a broad range of government agencies. The Department of Climate Change and Disaster in the Office of the Prime Minister leads climate change policy and response in the country. The Department of Climate Change and Disaster also hosts the National Advisory Council on Climate Change, which provides advice to the Prime Minister on the effective coordination of government-wide responses to climate change challenges. The Advisory Council comprises Directors from a range of government Departments, including Fisheries, Gender Affairs, and Health, as well as civil society representatives from groups such as the Tuvaluan Association of Non-Government Organisations.
The Department of Environment under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism Environment and Labour, and the Ministry of Public Works, Infrastructure, Environment, Labour, Disaster and Meteorology have taken over the leading role held earlier by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment (2015, p. 22). The National Disaster Management Office within the Office of the President also plays an important role in climate change-related decision-making.
Tuvalu has an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) focal point within the Meteorological Service and several other focal points on climate issues. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website currently lists no Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point in the country.
Education and communication
Education and training are under the purview of the Department of Education within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. There is no specific climate change communication and education strategy in Tuvalu, but climate change education and communication are well integrated across environmental, strategic, and educational planning.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
The Environment Protection Act (2008) seeks to coordinate Tuvalu’s response to environmental challenges and to define the role of the Department of Environment. The Act makes some reference to climate change, particularly in relation to promoting public awareness and understanding of climate change issues. The Act also highlights Tuvalu’s role in raising awareness in the global community, stating that the Department of Environment will "raise the level of understanding throughout the world about the implications of climate change, and activities which contribute to climate change, on Tuvalu and the future of its people" (2008, p. 24).
The Climate Change Resilience Act seeks to build an effective climate change response and a long-term climate resilient society in Tuvalu. One of Tuvalu's commitments under the Act is to "promote and cooperate in education, training and public awareness related to climate change and encourage the widest participation in this process including that of non-governmental organisations" (2019, p. 10). One responsibility of the Department of Climate Change and Disaster identified in the Act is "providing educational, training and other capacity development opportunities for Tuvaluans in areas related to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change" (p. 13).
Tuvalu also has several plans and strategies that shape their climate change responses. Tuvalu’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (2007) emphasizes public awareness and public participation in decision-making as key foci for climate adaptation activities. At the time of this review, it had not been updated since its creation.
Tuvalu’s Climate Change Policy (2012-2021; Te Kaniva) identifies a need to increase awareness, capacity, and communication systems throughout the country, and sets goals to address these issues. The Policy also looks at the need for better climate change awareness in education and increased integration of climate change into the curriculum across all levels of schooling. The Policy defines seven thematic goals, strategies, and desired outcomes that the government and the people of Tuvalu have prioritized for implementation to ensure that safety and resilience are achieved.
The National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (2012) is the Climate Change Policy’s initial implementation plan. The Strategic Action Plan maps out strategies to achieve the Policy’s communication and education goals in more detail, including the development of educational resources, training programs, and targeted awareness activities. While the Strategic Action Plan was only intended to cover the period 2012-2016, it had not been replaced at the time of data collection.
Tuvalu’s most recent National Strategy for Sustainable Development- ‘Te Kete’ (2021-2030) was released in 2021 to replace the previous Te Kakeega II and Te Kakeega III National Strategies. Previous Strategies were closely tied to the development of climate change policy and ‘Te Kete’ continues this trend, incorporating a national outcome to increase climate change and disaster resilience. One of its national outcomes is “quality education for sustainable living improved for all” (2021, p. 9).
Tuvalu’s Nationally Determined Contributions (2015) make only passing reference to including public education in activities such as energy efficiency programs. At the time this review was conducted, a team was working on Tuvalu’s 3rd National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC; Tuvalu Climate Change Portal, n.d.).
Education and communication
Climate Change is a guiding agenda of the Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (2016-2020). The Plan states:
Climate Change poses the most serious threat to the security and survival of Tuvalu. The danger of climate change and the prospect of warming temperatures, sea level rise, and severe weather events overhang the entire discussion of future development. These dangers – some long-term, some more immediate – cut across Tuvalu’s development landscape. The challenges of climate action and future climate financing now and in the future are enormous. Urgent actions in response to climate change impacts are needed both at the local and global level. Education has a central and unavoidable role in the climate change discussion. (2016, p. 9)
The Plan also lays out the responsibility of curriculum development to “strengthen Education for Sustainable Development (ESD); mainstream Climate Change Education and Disaster Risk Reduction into the curriculum; [and] develop and implement relevant curriculum materials and resources for Climate Change Education and Disaster Risk Reduction” (p. 20). Sustainability is also identified as a continuing issue for education in Tuvalu, including the challenge of shifting to an adaptation perspective by preparing students to live sustainably, and to teach them to act as global citizens in preparation for a time when they may need to live outside of Tuvalu.
The Tuvalu National Curriculum Policy Framework (2013) sets out clear systems-level policies, concepts, and principles of teaching and learning for students from pre-school to year 13. While climate change is not mentioned in the Framework, it does state that students “will learn to develop resilience to respond to the sustainability issues they face and build their communities to endure in their social and physical environments, enjoy prosperity, cohesion and maintain healthy and sustainable ecosystems in future” (p. 17).
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
In Tuvalu’s Climate Change Policy (2012-2021) and the National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (2012-2016), climate change refers to both adaptation and mitigation.
Tuvalu’s 2nd National Communication (2015) and Learning About Climate Change the Pacific Way- Tuvalu: A Guide for Teachers, which was produced by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in 2015, both use the term ‘climate education.' However, neither provides a specific definition for this concept.
The Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (2016) uses the terms ‘education for sustainable development,’ ‘disaster risk reduction,’ and 'climate change education.’ The Plan explains climate change education as:
Education has a central and unavoidable role in the climate change discussion. It serves to inform the citizenry of climate change impacts, risks and responses. Perhaps more importantly is the subject of climate change and its impacts taught as part of a student’s general education curriculum. This serves to educate the next generation of Tuvaluans, including its future leaders, who, coming of age, need to be exposed to the climate-related problems and prospects they will inherit from today’s older generation. (p. 9)
The National Curriculum Policy Framework (2013) uses the term ‘education for sustainability’ and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) projects in Tuvalu have expanded the term to ‘climate change education for sustainable development.’
Tuvalu’s Environment Management Strategy (2015) uses the terms 'environment education' and 'environment awareness and education,' linking concepts of education and awareness together. Likewise, Tuvalu’s Climate Change Policy (2012) refers to 'awareness in schools.'
Beyond the formal schooling system, the terms 'awareness,' 'training,' and 'capacity' are used consistently across a number of documents including the National Communication (2015), the Climate Change Policy (2012), and the National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (2012).
The National Communication (2015) notes the importance of using consist climate change terminology to foster community understanding, but it also indicates there was no agreed-upon Tuvaluan glossary of climate change concepts when the document was drafted. This has since been remedied and the Tuvalu Climate Change Portal Glossary now defines many important climate change education and communication concepts, including defining ‘climate change’ as “the long-term significant change in the average weather for a region” (n.p.) and ‘education’ as “the act or process of imparting or acquiring knowledge or skills” (n.p.). The Glossary also provides the UNFCCC and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) definitions of climate change.
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
The Tuvalu Ministry of Finance is responsible for managing budget allocations in Tuvalu. In the 2021 Tuvalu Budget, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports was allocated approximately US$11.5 million (AUD$15.4 million), which is 14% of the country’s total budget; however, there is no indication how much of this is spent on climate change education.
The 2021 Tuvalu Budget allocates US$7.3 million (AUD$9.8 million) to the Ministry of Public Works, Infrastructure, Environment, Labour, Disaster and Meteorology, with US$22,400 (AUD$30,000) allocated for a National Climate Outlook Forum and US$11,200 (AUD$15,000) to increase public awareness on disaster preparedness.
In 2016, the Climate Change and Disaster Survival Fund Act 2015 (No. 11 of 2016) established the Tuvalu Survival Fund to “provide for the security of the people of Tuvalu against the impacts of climate change and natural disasters,” (p. 5), with US$75,000 (AUD$1 million) being allocated in 2021. This Fund augments multilateral financing from global funds such as the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, Least Developed Country Fund, Global Environment Facility, and Special Climate Change Fund.
The Green Climate Fund supports climate change-related activities in Tuvalu, including through the Enhancing Climate Information and Knowledge Services for Resilience in 5 Island Countries of the Pacific Ocean project, which began in 2020. The Project aims to increase the generation and use of climate information in decision-making; strengthen adaptive capacity; reduce exposure to climate risks; and strengthen awareness of climate threats and risk-reduction processes. Tuvalu is allocated approximately US$9 million of the project’s US$49.9 million budget.
The Green Climate Fund has also contributed US$38.9 million to the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project (2016-2024), which works to increase the resilience of Tuvalu’s coastline, including through capacity-building and awareness activities.
The key strategic actions of the Tuvalu 2021-2030 National Strategy for Sustainable Development include mention of the need to “secure increased funding from global climate financing facilities” (p.5) under Strategic Priority 1, ‘Enabling Environment.’
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
Climate change is central to learning in Tuvalu, as made clear by the Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (2016-2020). The Plan lists climate change as a key agenda; incorporates sustainable education into its vision and mission; lists “environment preservation” as one of the education system’s values; and lists "living and interacting sustainably with the environment and community" (p. 12) as one of its guiding principles. The Plan includes a performance indicator tracking implementation of education for sustainable development units across all sectors of education.
While the Tuvalu National Curriculum Policy Framework (2013) does not explicitly mention climate change, the Framework’s philosophy section notes “children and students learning experiences will equip them to understand the connections between environmental, economic, social and their political systems” (p. 17). The Framework contains curriculum content in its Science Learning Area relevant to climate change education. This content suggests that learning is largely cognitive, with some elements of the action/behavioral learning dimension. Environment is mentioned within both primary and secondary education. Regarding the latter, the Framework states that “Secondary education in Tuvalu will prepare students to be more responsive to the real dangers and vulnerabilities of their environment and develop resilience in the face of this adversity” (p. 19). 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 Framework also mentions that:
Children and students will understand biological, physical and chemical processes that cause natural phenomena and events through the study of sciences. They will learn about human intervention that may sometimes be beneficial while at other times may cause problems for their environment and future. They will learn to predict natural events and other man made actions. They will develop an understanding and appreciation of the importance of natural resources, interrelationships in systems in and sustainable ways. They will learn to live in harmony with their environment and appreciate traditional use of science in their cultures. Agriculture is a useful means of teaching and applying science principles to growing crops and sustaining a productive environment. (p. 41)
Several government policies set targets for better integrating climate change education in Tuvalu’s schools and curriculum. The Climate Change Policy includes a strategy to ensure that "climate change and disaster risk management information are incorporated into school curriculum" with the expected outcome of a "high level of awareness in school age children (preschools, primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary levels)" (2012, p. 16). The National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management breaks this down into particular targets, including:
- Consult and assess the curriculum in all education levels, with a view to incorporating climate change and disaster risk management programs (sic).
- Develop relevant programmes to strengthen the curriculum with the incorporation of climate change and disaster risk management materials
- Develop relevant student study aids, teachers’ teaching aids and resource material for the Curriculum Resource Development Unit relating to climate change and disaster risk management
- Provide training for the Curriculum Resources Development Unit on climate change and disaster risk management. (2012, p. 47)
Programs such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development 2012-2014 assessment and capacity-building project also seek to increase integration of climate change into the school curriculum.
The new Tuvalu 2021-2030 National Strategy for Sustainable Development’s Strategic Action 3.11.2, is to “Implement curriculum reform at all levels of education targeting the key streams imperative to building the capacity, skills and resilience of Tuvalu” (2021, p. 16).
Other resources, such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Learning About Climate Change the Pacific Way-Tuvalu (2015) have provided context for Tuvaluan teachers to see where climate change education fits within the curriculum and share resources for specific climate change lessons. The guide aims to “deliver nationally prioritised key messages relevant to climate change science, the effects of climate change on the Pacific and options to mitigate its causes and to adapt to expected changes” (2015, p. 1). Projects such as Child-Centered Climate Change Adaptation run by Plan International Australia and the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific International,have created opportunities for Tuvaluan school students to learn about climate change and develop their own responses to the challenges they face, inside and outside the formal education system.
Tuvalu’s National Communication claims that “further work will be carried out by the Education Department to ascertain whether climate change should be made as a standalone subject for all levels" (2015, p. 44). However, a number of sources, including the UNESCO report on the Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development program (2015) have identified that capacity constraints in the Tuvalu government have led to many projects, such as developing a national climate change education plan and integrating climate change education into the curriculum, not being implemented.
ii. Climate change in higher education
According to the 6th National Report to the Convention on Biodiversity (2020), Tuvalu’s higher education system comprises one small campus of the University of the South Pacific in Funafuti. As a result, most students leave Tuvalu to engage in higher education.
Tuvalu’s Climate Change Resilience Act indicates the Department of Climate Change and Disaster’s intention to develop a strategy "to establish and facilitate scholarships for Tuvaluans to study climate change related issues at tertiary institutions within and outside of Tuvalu" (2019, p. 16). The National Climate Change Policy (2012-2021) also includes an expected outcome of a high level of climate change awareness in tertiary students.
iii. Climate change in teacher training
Teacher training is a challenge broadly in Tuvalu, not just in relation to climate change education. While the Tuvalu National Curriculum Policy Framework (2013) emphasizes the importance of teacher training, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “many teachers have received little to no training, and ongoing professional development is limited” (2015, p. 29). Indeed, according to the Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (2016-2020), up to 75% of teachers at some education levels are not adequately qualified. The Plan thus lists key outputs around improving teacher effectiveness through ongoing training and professional development. The National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management also aimed to develop “teachers’ teaching aids and resource material for the Curriculum Resource Development Unit relating to climate change and disaster risk management” (2012, p. 47).
While there was little evidence of progress on these measures at the time of this review, there are opportunities available to improve teachers’ practice, particularly in relation to climate change education. For instance, according to the 6th National Report to the Convention on Biodiversity (2020), the Tuvaluan Department of Education provides a limited number of scholarships for postgraduate study overseas, both for pre-service (with a requirement to return for government employment for at least two years once the course has been completed) and in-service (for current government staff) educators. The report states that most scholarship recipients study at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, and that teaching is one of the most popular degrees. The report also notes that many are also encouraged to study science by the government.
UNESCO has spearheaded a number of projects to upskill Tuvaluan teachers in climate change education. For example, in 2014, UNESCO partnered with the University of Auckland to conduct a Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development assessment and capacity building program in Tuvalu. The program engaged 35 primary and secondary school teachers and principals in climate change education capacity building training. According to Tuvalu’s National Communication, UNESCO and Tuvalu’s Education Department collaborated to “enhance capacity in the areas of: education policy and planning; curriculum development; teacher training; reforming and greening technical, vocational education and training (TVET) programmes; and developing education plans and programmes for disaster preparedness” (2015, p. 44).
The Learning About Climate Change the Pacific Way- Tuvalu is a specific climate change education resource linked to Tuvalu’s curriculum was developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit ( German development agency) in 2015. The resource is a guide for teachers that provides targeted lesson plans and curriculum links for climate change education. The guide includes references to cognitive, action/behavioral, and socio-emotional learning dimensions. For example, it emphasizes the importance of ‘learning to know’ (scientific understandings of climate change and its impacts), ‘learning to do’ (practical skills in interpreting data and planning action), ‘learning to live together’ (discussing community action), and ‘learning to be’ (making a personal commitment to action).
A new Australian initiative, the Climate Connection Series, is helping Pacific Island countries improve capacity in remote education, with a series of workshops on climate change in Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Samoa. Over four months, participants will take part in train-the-trainer workshops facilitated by the Australian National University’s Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science collaborating with the Tuvalu Ministry of Education. The project envisions that teachers:
Will explore the causes and impacts of a changing climate and how to bring these lessons into the classroom or an informal learning setting through the use of video-based instruction, digital platforms or home-based learning approaches. They will learn methods for engaging diverse audiences with hands-on activities and experiments centred on empowerment and action. Teachers participating in the workshops will learn the skills required to develop their own locally relevant content and be supported to produce short videos for social media, online teaching and TV. (2021, n.p.)
Participants will also form networks with like-minded teachers, swapping stories across the region, sharing approaches to online learning and climate change education, and taking part in online competitions.
Resources for teachers are also made available by other NGOs in the region.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
The Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (2016-2020) addresses Technical and Vocational Skills Development (TVSD) in relation to climate change. According to the Plan, students can access school-based TVSD programs as early as year 7, and enter these programs fully from year 9. According to a 2017 Ministry of Education Tuvalu Education Sector Situational Analysis, the TVSD sector offers courses in areas such as maritime work, carpentry, crafts, cooking, horticulture, and information technology. In the Tuvaluan setting, these topics may have links to climate change, however climate is not central to the TVSD program. The Analysis report notes a lack of trained TVSD educators, due to community perceptions that TVSD is a second-class choice. The report outlines the importance of providing “outreach programmes to better inform the general public that TVSD is another pathway which also leads to sustainable livelihoods” (2017, p. 15).
Adult learning and capacity building in relation to climate change are a strong focus in Tuvalu. For example, the Climate Change Resilience Act states that the Department of Climate Change and Disaster must develop strategies to "build capacity in all aspects associated with the implementation of this Act" (2019, p. 17).
Similarly, the Climate Change Policy (2012-2021) identifies a lack of capacity as a challenge in a number of areas, including governance, disaster response, technology, scientific assessment, climate services, weather monitoring, international negotiations, communication, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation.
The National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (2012-2016) also outlines a range of training and capacity building activities for areas such as weather monitoring; marine and land management; integration of climate change into economic planning, project development, and island strategic planning; disaster management and recovery; and international climate negotiations. It is unclear how many of these training activities had been undertaken at the time of this review.
The European Union Pacific Technical and Vocational Education and Training Project on Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Adaptation undertook a Tuvalu Training Needs and Gap Analysis (2015), which identified key training gaps in sustainable energy, climate change, and transferable skills. These included solar and biogas design, installation, and auditing skills; disaster response; climate and meteorological skills; agriculture and food security; water security; project management; business skills; and data analysis.
There are many challenges to implementing effective capacity building and training programs in Tuvalu. As the National Communication notes, a “limited pool of qualified and trained professionals in Tuvalu, shortage of staff within government departments and high turnover of staff (mainly due to duty travel or overseas training and education) are some constraints associated with lack of technical capacity within the country" (2015, p. 45).
i. Climate change and public awareness
The importance of public awareness is enshrined in Tuvalu’s environmental laws. For example, the Environment Protection Act states that the Department of Environment will "promote understanding amongst the people of Tuvalu about the causes and implications of climate change" (2008, p. 24). The Climate Change Resilience Act claims to promote “public awareness and involvement in climate change issues" (2019, p. 9).
Numerous government documents identify a lack of awareness as a key challenge for Tuvalu’s climate response. For example, the 2007 National Adaptation Programme of Action describes a lack of awareness “from national level policy makers down to the Falekaupule [local government] and civil society” as a key challenge (p. 35). Likewise, Tuvalu’s Climate Change Policy (2012-2021) identifies a lack of awareness as a key barrier to the government’s ability to strengthen adaptation actions to address current and future vulnerabilities.
As a result, many of the documents reviewed include goals, actions, and strategies to increase public awareness. For instance, the Climate Change Policy outlines a plan to develop “awareness and empowerment programmes for each island on climate change impacts and disaster risks in each sector" (2012, p. 14) to better integrate climate change adaptation into household planning and decision-making. The National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (2012) lists “creating awareness” as an activity in each of its strategies, including a plan to "develop awareness materials and communication strategies for each sector on the impacts of climate change and disaster" through the use of popular media outlets (2012, p. 46). The National Environment Management Strategy(2015) outlines several capacity- and awareness-building initiatives targeted to government and non-governmental organizations. This includes upgrading the Department of the Environment website; engaging more effectively with international climate and environmental negotiations by increasing staff and citizen awareness of these processes; and implementing an awareness/capacity building program on the government’s key annual environmental activities. It is unclear how many of these activities were implemented at the time of data collection.
The Tuvalu National Culture Policy Strategic Plan (Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development, 2018) has developed a “Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation” strategy for cultural heritage and institutions, which includes raising awareness and building capacity in communities and heritage professionals. The 6th National Report to the Convention on Biodiversity includes a target to “improve knowledge on the impact of climate change and natural disasters on biodiversity," by organizing an annual national environment week to raise public awareness (2020, p. 10). The initiative includes radio broadcasts, events with local schools, educational visits to conservation areas, events promoting local agricultural products, and the consumption of local foods.
In December 2020, the Tuvalu Government hosted a Climate Change Awareness Week to promote climate change awareness to the public and share the work of the Department of Climate Change and Disaster. The event included capacity building to schools, young people, and others in the capital of Funafuti on adaptation and mitigation measures.
The National Communication (2015) states that there is still much to be done to enhance Tuvaluans’ knowledge about the causes of climate change and the implications of climate science on citizens’ lives, including in the future. The National Communication describes a range of mediums for increasing climate change awareness in Tuvalu, including essay and poster competitions, national workshops, and community outreach organized by stakeholders such as government departments, donor partners, academia, faith-based organizations, and civil society.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
Under the Climate Change Resilience Act, it is legislated that Tuvalu shall "promote and cooperate in the full, open and prompt exchange of relevant scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and legal information related to the climate system and climate change, and to the economic and social consequences of various response strategies" (2019, p. 10).
Tuvalu’s Climate Change Policy (2012) includes strategies to upgrade National Meteorology Services stations and develop more reliable telecommunications on the outer islands to increase capacity to distribute weather and climate information.
The Department of Climate Change and Disaster is responsible for disseminating climate change information in Tuvalu. The Department has developed the Tuvalu Climate Change Portal, which aims to:
Enhance accessibility to relevant information on climate change and enable greater understanding on the role of the Department of Climate Change and Disaster in addressing climate change in the country by providing specific information that can be used by planners, practitioners and policy makers. (n.d., n.p.)
Tuvalu, supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme also has an Environmental Data Portal which provides an easy way to find, access, and reuse national data. The portal’s main purpose is “to provide easy access and safe storage for Environmental datasets to be used for monitoring, evaluating, and analysing environmental conditions and trends to support environmental planning, forecasting, and reporting requirements at all levels” (n.p.). The public is encouraged to use this data to benefit all of Tuvalu’s citizens.
The National Communication (2015) notes that the islands are quite distributed and isolated from one another, which creates challenges in communicating and sharing information about climate change between the capital of Funafuti and the outer islands. The National Communication further notes that while multiple agencies and projects have used the radio to communicate about climate change, they have been intermittent.
iii. Climate change and public participation
Tuvalu places a strong focus on public participation and consultation in climate change decision-making, which is reflected in multiple government policies including information on public consultations. For example, the Environment Protection Act (2008) and Climate Change Resilience Act (2019) both indicate that the Minister can convene national climate change forums. The Climate Change Resilience Act describes the forums as a means of ensuring that “the general community has an opportunity to participate in the formulation of climate change resilience related policies and the implementation of related programs and activities" (2019; p. 15).
The 2007 National Adaptation Programme of Action lists community participatory and consensus approaches as key guiding principles. The community participatory approach is described as “the participation of the Falekaupule [local government] and local communities including men, women, youth and individuals at the grassroots levels, who are equitably vulnerable to the impacts of climate change” (p. 10).
Tuvalu’s Climate Change Policy (2012-2021) and its implementation plan, the National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (2012-2016) were developed using participatory approaches. For instance, the Climate Change Policy was developed via nationwide consultations with all levels of society across the islands. Moreover, a one-day National Climate Change Summit was attended by “local leaders and dignitaries of all levels of the society, church leaders, representative of primary, secondary and tertiary schools as well as political leaders” (2012, p. 2). The Summit communiqué formed the basis of the Policy. The Strategic Action Plan was developed using a similar national consultation and summit process.
The National Communication adds to this that "visits to the outer islands to conduct consultation and information sessions have been carried out by different projects at different points in time” (2015, p. 44).
A number of community groups, particularly young people, are also active contributors to climate change discussions and decision making. In August 2019, Tuvaluan youth gathered at the Climate Change Youth Forum, where they discussed their concerns, heard from the ministries involved in Tuvalu’s climate change response, and developed the Funafuti Youth Declaration on Climate Change. This Declaration calls on the Tuvalu Government to take a number of actions including declaring a state of Climate Emergency; establishing a Youth Parliament; ensuring the involvement of youth voices in climate change decision-making; enhancing education and awareness raising of climate change adaptation; and developing strategies to train the trainers in climate change awareness and actions. The participating youth committed themselves to improving community awareness of climate issues, including by developing platforms for climate education and information-sharing; building their own capacity to confront climate change; and carrying youth voices to government.
i. Country monitoring
While there is no specific assessment of climate change communication and education in Tuvalu, the country does have educational monitoring mechanisms in place.
According to the Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (2016), The Tuvalu Education Management Information System supports evidence-based reporting across Tuvalu’s education system. The Tuvalu Education Data Quality Assessment Report (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, 2017) notes that the System includes datasets on school profiles, student enrolments, teacher details, examination and assessment results, and attendance details. The Education Sector Plan indicates the country plans to improve the System’s quality of data collection, including by developing a core set of educational indicators.
Tuvalu’s Central Statistics Division is responsible for the collection and production of population statistics, including education statistics. However, its education statistics have not been updated since 2006. In fact, the 2017 Tuvalu Education Data Quality Assessment Report, conducted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports with the support of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, found that Tuvalu’s policy and legal framework governing educational statistics and monitoring is very poor. The report also found a lack of coordination between the Tuvalu Education Management Information System and the Central Statistics Division.
In 2020, the Department of Climate Change and Disaster, partnered with the National Adaptation Processes (NAP) Global Network, released the Tuvalu Integrated Vulnerability Assessment Report. This Report aims to communicate the outcomes of the assessment of gender and youth-based perspectives on a range of vulnerabilities to support evidence-based assessment, prioritization, and planning in Tuvalu. While the Report includes some references to inadequate training, and to the importance of communication and community consultation, there is no specific content analysing climate change communication and education in Tuvalu.
The National Communication (2015) identifies challenges in data collection and availability in Tuvalu on climate issues. It notes the importance of better centralized data collection mechanisms to support knowledge sharing between government departments to support development of climate communication reports and to support decision making and planning for climate adaptation and mitigation. This need is echoed in the National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (2012). This review was not able to locate publicly available information on whether these targets have been implemented.
This lack of information is made clear in Tuvalu’s United Nations Sustainable Development Goal reporting (2021). This review found no data for tracking progress on SDG 4.7 (education for sustainability) or SDG 13.3 (climate change education).
ii. MECCE Project monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the 2011 National Curriculum Policy Framework (NCF; 2013) and the Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (TESP III, 2016) (ESP), for references to climate change, sustainability, biodiversity, and the environment.
Overall, the documents reference the ‘environment’ with almost double the frequency of ‘climate change,’ and reference ‘sustainability’ twice as much again. Tuvalu’s National Curriculum Policy Framework (NCF; 2013) does not mention ‘climate change,’ however it references ‘sustainability’ 43 times and the ‘environment’ 29 times. The Tuvalu Education Sector Plan III (TESP III, 2016) references ‘climate change’ 20 times, ‘sustainability’ 30 times, and the ‘environment’ 7 times. Neither document mentions ‘biodiversity.’
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.
This profile was reviewed by Dr. Rosiana K Lagi, Former USP Tuvalu Campus Director Currently, USP Deputy Head of School (School of Pacific Arts, Communications and Education)