Friday 05 November 2021
  • British Council’s Climate Connection programme has reached almost two million people online and directly engaged with over 2,000 creative innovators to tackle the climate crisis through arts and culture, education, and the English language.
  • British Council research of 8,000 young people globally highlights urgent need to include them in climate policy decision-making.
  • Other British Council initiatives include Creative Commissions exploring climate change through art, science and digital technology, a Green Careers Guide providing advice on education opportunities and routes into green jobs, and funding to protect global heritage from the risk of climate change.

The British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, is showcasing highlights from its global Climate Connection programme – which supports people around the world to find creative solutions to climate change – during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland from 1-12 November.

From the COP26 Blue Zone Pavilion, the British Council is engaging in discussions about the role of educational and cultural policy in tackling the climate emergency.

The Climate Connection, which launched in June 2021, brings people together through arts and culture, education, and the English language to address the climate emergency through a global programme of activity and engagement, with particular focus on young people aged 11 to 35. The programme supports young people to gain the skills and connections they need to address climate challenges. 

Through the Climate Connection, the British Council has reached almost two hundred million people online and directly engaged with over 2,000 young people face-to-face to date, in 178 countries. This includes indigenous communities, artists, academics, scientists, and creative innovators, who have connected to find long-lasting, creative ways to tackle multiple issues relating to the climate crisis.

Highlighting the British Council’s role in addressing climate change, Scott McDonald, British Council Chief Executive, said: “Young people have a huge role to play in shaping future climate change policy and the British Council is committed to including their voices in the climate discussion at COP26 and beyond. Through initiatives such as our Climate Connection programme, we are building on UK expertise to support them to gain the skills, experience, and connections they need to make positive change at local, national, and international levels. Connecting and building trust between the UK and countries, communities, and generations – and empowering young people globally to make that happen – is at the heart of the British Council’s approach.”

Partnering with YOUNGO and the UN Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY), the British Council is supporting the Global Youth Letter on Climate Action, a call for action from young people directly addressing the leaders attending COP26, to highlight the urgent need to provide more opportunities to involve them in climate change policy. 

The letter is a result of large-scale British Council research carried out this year, which surveyed the experiences and aspirations of 8000 young people across 23 countries. The report found that whilst young people are willing and keen to make meaningful contributions, many lack the opportunities to do so. Whilst 75 per cent of respondents reported having skills to deal with climate change in their communities, 69 per cent had never participated in climate action. 

These findings have contributed towards COY16’s Global Youth Statement, which will be formally presented to Minister Alok Sharma MP, COP26 President on 5 November as part of the Young and Future Generations Day at COP26. 

During COP26, the British Council is also supporting a number of partner-led events on site, while simultaneously engaging global audiences through a range of online offers – from an English Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for teachers who want to integrate climate themes into their teaching, to a Live at COP26 MOOC run in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, to the launch of another edition of the Destination Zero climate innovation challenge competition.

British Council initiatives being showcased during COP26 include:

  • Songs of the Earth – a performance by Soumit Datta, one of 17 Creative Commissions bringing together people from the UK and 28 countries to explore climate change through art, science, and digital technology.
  • Fashion Open Studio x COP26 Fashion Studio showcasing 9 young designers from the Global South.
  • Green Careers Fair at COY16 and a Green Careers Guide supporting young people to build successful careers that help the planet through advice on education opportunities and routes into green jobs.
  • 26 GREAT Scholarships for a sustainable future, delivered by the British Council as part of the Study UK campaign, which have been provided to overseas students to pursue a climate-related subject at UK universities.
  • The Climate Connection Higher Education and Cultural Policy Roundtable Series, exploring the multiple roles the higher education and culture sectors play in combatting the climate crisis.
  • The Cultural Protection Fund, a partnership between British Council and the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, has awarded funding to five global heritage projects, which will use technology, skills development, and community engagement to respond to the risk of climate change to heritage in East Africa.
  • A global MOOC for English teachers building capacity in how to integrate climate-themed issues into English language teaching.


Notes to Editor

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For more details on the British Council’s work in 2020-21, view our Review of the Year

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. In 2019-2020 we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 14.5 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.