Empowering Youth for Climate Change Adaptation Action

In 2021, Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) received support to bring information about climate change and adaptation to educators and students across Canada through the Empowering Youth for Climate Change Adaptation Action project. A 2019 national Climate Change Education survey identified gaps in climate change knowledge and resources for educators and students. This finding was reinforced by LSF’s extensive engagement with Canadian educators. To support educators and help young people become better equipped to face climate change, LSF created online climate change Inquiry education guides entitled “Empowering Learners in a Warming World” (ELWW). These 3 guides provide teachers with age-appropriate resources and activities to educate students in Kindergarten through grade 12 about climate change. LSF also produced the Green Jobs: Adapting to our Changing Climate video series to inspire students to think about green jobs. This series of 10 videos introduces students to various Canadian experts who build climate resilience through their work. Each video is hosted by high school students from across Canada and interviews experts to explore how climate change is impacting different fields and how experts are advancing adaptation and building climate resilience. In the fall of 2022, LSF will be: distributing the Green Jobs video series to guidance departments and careers classes across Canada; supporting teachers to incorporate climate change learning through professional development based on Empowering Learners in a Warming World guides; expanding the reach of these resources through promotion (promotional videos for ELWW) social media and incorporating them into Youth Leadership forums.

The K-6 Empowering Learners in a Warming World guides and Green Jobs video series were supported by Natural Resources Canada’s Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise (BRACE).

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

Education is critical for responding to climate change at the regional, provincial/territorial, national, and international level. To promote education about climate change, educators and students need to be well-equipped with relevant and accurate knowledge and resources. However, conventional teaching, based on information transfer and finding the “right” answers, does not align well with the complexity of climate change or the evolving nature of the field. Students need to be engaged in active problem-solving because climate solutions are nuanced and specific to regional realities.

The ELWW guides are intended to begin by providing a high-level overview of climate change, why we should care, and how it affects our world. The content also focuses on Canadian policy, carbon emissions, and national level changes to temperature, precipitation, the cryosphere, freshwater, and biodiversity. The grade 7-12 ELWW guide dives deeper into climate science, covering climate models and the Climate Atlas of Canada. There are several exercises where students investigate climate modelling and climate impacts in their local region based on various emissions pathways and time periods (historical or future). The inquiry also covers Indigenous perspectives and knowledge on climate change, how climate change affects health, and the ethical implications of climate change.

In the Green Jobs video series, professionals discuss the intersection between climate change impacts, their job, and how they work to build resilience and adapt to current and projected impacts. Video topics include traditional Indigenous knowledge, water, nature-based solutions, community health, land use planning, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, and natural resources. Professionals make strong connections between how climate change is impacting Canadian communities, environment, health, economy, livelihoods etc. and why adaptation is needed.

For additional climate information, look at the Resources section of this example (below).

Identifying Actions

In 2019, LSF in collaboration with Dr. Ellen Field from the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University, undertook a national climate change education survey titled “Canada, Climate Change and Education: Opportunities for Public and Formal Education.” The survey identified a gap in climate change knowledge and the need for more support for climate change education. This survey also identified that climate change is primarily taught through science-related topics despite climate change being an interdisciplinary issue. In response to these gaps, LSF developed the cross-curricular climate change inquiry guides for kindergarten to grade 12 students and the Green Jobs series for students thinking about a climate-related career.

The ELWW resources were developed by experienced teachers. While creating these resources, there was an emphasis on equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing. The guides were developed using an inquiry-learning framework (see image) to honor students’ experiences and perspectives, promote learning that is action-oriented, and balance hope with credible and honest conversations. The purpose of the guides is to present opportunities to evolve students’ understanding of the climate and climate change, assess the risks and opportunities to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate, unpack ethical dimensions, and honour emotions that are part of the process of coming to understand the complexity and urgency of the issue. The guides aim to engage students in contributing to solutions in their schools, communities, and homes. The guide connects educators to instructional strategies that allow for students’ perspectives and voice, currently available climate change science and research, teacher resources and activities, datasets, and action solutions.


The ELWW guides were created for kindergarten-grade 2, grade 3-grade 6, and grade 7-grade 12. The guides and resources focus on inquiry-based learning which is question-driven and encourages individuals to work together. Each guide contains several inquiries and each inquiry process (see image) includes:

  1. Provocation – spark interest and curiosity, initial “hook.”
  2. Question Generation – understand where students are in their initial understanding of the topic.
  3. Determining Understanding – assess understanding of new information and determine any questions or confusion.
  4. Knowledge Building – advance individual knowledge through collaboration and group discussion.
  5. Pursuing Learning – teachers support students in the pursuit of new knowledge, skills, and learning.
  6. Consolidation – review knowledge and consider how it will be applied to action.
  7. Take Action!

Each step in the process includes ideas for activities, educational videos, assessments, case studies, and more. A highlight of the Empowering Learners resources are the active learning instructional strategies and background information for educators.

The Green Jobs videos were themselves a learning experience, as secondary students from across Canada took charge of interviewing green jobs “experts,” gaining valuable research, facilitation, public speaking, and interview skills. The completed videos act as a resource to introduce Canadian youth to jobs in the climate change adaptation sector, and are great for Careers courses, guidance counselors, and more.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

LSF has collected the following statistics on their outreach and engagement so far:

  • 5259 educators have visited the climatelearning.ca website since it was launched in January 2021
  • 845 people have viewed the Green Jobs video since they were launched in April 2022
  • Empowering Learners and a Warming World and Green Jobs videos have been promoted through LSF News to 16,700 educators and through social media to: 3,233 Twitter followers, 3,000 Facebook followers, 622 Instagram followers

Next Steps

Next steps for this project include transforming the kindergarten-2 and 3-6 guides to downloadable PDFs and promoting their use through LSF’s websites, social media, and teacher professional development workshops. The Green Jobs videos will also be promoted for use by Careers courses, guidance counselors, and more across the country.


Link to Full Case Study

Additional Resources:


Additional Climate Information:

Using climate change projections enables better adaptation decisions. To learn how to choose, access, and understand climate data, visit ClimateData.ca’s Learning Zone.

Visit ClimateData.ca and click “Explore by Variable” for future climate projections related to temperature and precipitation, which can be used to inform adaptation planning.