At COP28, the RewirED Summit highlighted 100 exceptional teacher-led and tested local climate education solutions from 60 countries, showcased through an online repository. As participants in the Teachers for the Planet Programme, twenty educators from diverse countries were present. Today, we introduce Nikhil Sharma from India—let’s hear from him!
Tell us about yourself
I am Nikhil, a climate educator and social entrepreneur from India. I am the founder of ElemenTree – a non-profit organisation working towards climate education and leadership in schools. Following my experience as a petroleum engineer in the oil and gas sector, I transitioned to the climate adaptation and education space, working with communities and schools. This transition was driven by the pressing need to empower grassroots leaders.
Why did you decide to join the Teachers for the Planet Programme?
Teachers for the Planet (TFP) programme is a first-of-its-kind initiatives that celebrate teachers’ efforts and work for climate education. There are very few such spaces that motivate and recognise the importance of climate education in classrooms – TFP is one among them. I worked in climate education for 4 years and this was the first time that our work was celebrated and shared among other networks through TFP.
Tell us about your contribution as part of the 100 solutions presented at COP. How do you involve kids on environmental issues?
ElemenTree operates in India, with a primary focus on delivering localised climate education to children. Our mission is to empower them with climate knowledge, skills, and the capacity to lead local change-making projects and initiatives. Notably, our ‘Young Leaders for Climate Action Fellowship’ program has been selected as one of the top 100 teacher solutions.
If you had to pick one word to describe your experience at COP, what would it be, and why?
Motivated – This experience has reinforced my belief in the significance of the work we do. While there were times when I doubted the necessity and importance of our efforts, this celebration has significantly boosted my belief and motivation.
What were your activities at COP?
Did you get the chance to interact with a diverse group of people? What did you take away from those interactions?
As part of COP, I got an opportunity to interact with diverse people, from policymakers to decision-makers. This helped me understand the challenges in climate education policy incorporation and implementation. A very important insight was how education policy space evolves and the importance of a bottom-up approach for participatory transition.
Do you believe teachers’ voices were genuinely heard and valued at COP? In what ways?
Yes, I strongly believe COP28 allowed me to engage in diverse conversations and share my work on climate education. The work was well-received and celebrated in many spaces where I interacted.
Did you feel supported in your involvement? From whom did you receive the most support?
Yes, a huge shout out to Dr. Andrew (Cunningham) and Lennart (Kuntze) for making it a success. I feel Lennart provided support at each stage and very patiently helped us refine ideas and find networking opportunities. Andrew motivated greatly during the entire engagement.
After your experience at COP, what emotions are you left with? Do you have hope?
I returned back with hopes high and belief deepened. I am highly motivated to strengthen and scale our programs in India.
Embark on an inspiring journey with the Teachers for the Planet Programme during the LearningPlanet Festival on 26 January!