The impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation

Written evidence submitted by the Development Education Association (Think Global)

1. About DEA

1.1 DEA is an education charity that promotes global learning. We work to ensure that people in the UK learn about global issues such as poverty and climate change and develop an open-minded, global outlook. DEA defines global learning as education that puts learning in a global context, fostering:

· critical and creative thinking;

· self-awareness and open-mindedness towards difference;

· understanding of global issues and power relationships; and

· optimism and action for a better world.

1.2 DEA is a membership body, with over 150 organisational members including subject associations, universities, local authorities and many development and environment NGOs in the UK.

2. Summary

2.1 In this response DEA highlights the positive impacts resulting from DFID’s investment in development education in the UK. We offer evidence that funding for development education in the past decade has helped to ensure that the UK public are able to take urgent action to tackle climate change.

2.2 We recommend that:

· The Environmental Audit Committee inquiry highlights the positive impacts of DFID’s funding for development education in the UK, in particular on the UK public’s ability and willingness to take urgent action on climate change.

· The Committee recommends to DFID that it continue to fund a programme of development education in the UK to meet both its international development and wider sustainability objectives.

3. Evidence

3.1 DEA’s evidence relates specifically to DFID’s focus over the past decade on development education amongst the UK public.

3.2 One of the coalition government’s priorities is to ‘drive urgent action to tackle climate change’ and the inquiry is examining the extent to which environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation are prioritised in DFID’s programmes.

3.3 In an interdependent world, climate change mitigation and adaptation must happen in the UK as well as overseas, and mitigation here will have an impact on international development. As a country with high per capita carbon emissions, the UK has a proportionately greater impact on climate change than many poorer countries. By mitigating climate change here in the UK, we will reduce global carbon emissions significantly, as well as developing technologies that can be implemented in poorer countries to allow low-carbon growth. In this way we will reduce the negative impacts of climate change on development, and so contribute to DFID’s international development aims. This gives us a reason to spend money to encourage action amongst our own population.

3.4 DFID funding for development education has made a strong contribution, particularly in schools, towards ensuring that people in the UK are more aware of interdependence and the need for sustainability, and are more willing and able to take urgent action to tackle climate change.

3.5 Examples of DFID’s funding for development education include:

· Supporting Hampshire Development Education Centre to provide staff training to 420 teachers to teach about global citizenship in primary and secondary schools in Hampshire.

· Funding BRAC UK to train young peer educators in Tower Hamlets. These peer educators will raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals and the need for environmental sustainability amongst 2,000 18-25 year olds who are not in education, employment or training.

3.6 Recent research from Ipsos MORI highlights the impact of development education in the UK: amongst those who have learnt about the climate through development education in school, only one in six people feel it is pointless to take personal action to tackle climate change. By contrast, amongst those who have not learnt about any global issues at school, a third of people feel it is pointless to take personal action to tackle climate change. [1]

3.7 Some of the funding streams from DFID for development education in the UK are now being cut (for example the Development Awareness Fund, and the Enabling Effective Support initiative). Nevertheless, there are strong arguments in favour of DFID spending a small proportion of its budget on educating people in the UK about international development and sustainability issues, to help meet both our international development and sustainable development priorities.

4. Recommendations

4.1 We therefore recommend that:

· The Environmental Audit Committee inquiry highlights the positive impacts of DFID’s funding for development education in the UK, in particular on the UK public’s ability and willingness to take urgent action on climate change.

· The Committee recommends to DFID that it continue to fund a programme of development education in the UK to meet both its international development and wider sustainability objectives.

7 December 2010


[1] Hogg, Shah, 2010, The impact of global learning on public attitudes and behaviours towards international development and sustainability . DEA: London