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Three ways that Room to Read supports climate justice

August 11, 2023

Skill building

In celebration of International Youth Day, we are sharing three ways that Room to Read supports sustainability and climate justice.

1. Climate book collection 

Nonfiction books are an important tool to help children unlock a love of reading. In addition to supporting the development of critical thinking and analytical skills, nonfiction can also help students gain deep knowledge of their environment and society. By exposing students to serious topics addressed through nonfiction, such as climate change, we prepare children to become informed global citizens.  

So, what better way to build a healthier planet than to publish a series of nonfiction books that educate young readers on the rich biodiversity that surrounds their communities and illuminates the importance of protecting their regional ecosystems? Room to Read’s climate book collection does just that with titles focused on climate-related topics specific to Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal and Tanzania.

In each book, the author highlights an issue of local importance — from the loss of biodiversity in Nepal to the melting snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, from drought in the Mekong delta in Vietnam to the effects of sweeping deforestation in Indonesia. While each book was written in the author’s native language, the full series will be translated across several languages so that children in all four countries of distribution will benefit from learning about the myriad ways in which climate change has altered — and continues to threaten — ecosystems and communities around the globe.  

Nonfiction books for young learners enhance the development of literacy skills, and subjects that connect to students’ real-life experiences, like that of climate change, inspire action, often serving as a jumping off point for students interested in leading climate activism and advocacy efforts in their home communities. To further inspire children to take action in response to climate change, each book in the series ends with a chapter that outlines steps readers can take to address changes to their natural environment. 


2. Staff and organizational commitment to sustainability 

Countering the effects of climate change requires commitment and collaboration from both communities and individuals around the world. At Room to Read, we believe that everyone can contribute to a more sustainable future for ourselves and our planet. From carrying a reusable water bottle to adopting a more plant-based diet, there are numerous ways that each of us can contribute to climate action. 

To support this belief, we enacted the Room to Read Sustainability Policy in 2018. This policy commits to promoting positive environmental practices through our global operations and programs with an awareness that a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality is only possible when households and communities are not hindered by climate change, natural resource degradation, and poor access to sustainable and reliable energy. Over the past three years, we have been in the process of developing a conceptual framework, recommending concrete goals and identifying how our practices, processes and people can advance environmental sustainability in the workplace.  

Watch the video below to hear how some of our staff incorporate sustainable practices into their daily lives. 

3. Girls’ Education Program climate justice curriculum 

We know that staying in school has an astounding effect on a young girl’s quality of life and that of her future family’s. Because women are traditionally the primary caretakers of their families, they play an essential role in setting an example for the generation that follows them. Ensuring that all girls have access to a quality education is one of the best solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, including climate change. According to UNESCO, worldwide access to primary and girls’ education could result in an 85 gigaton reduction of carbon dioxide by 2050. Deaths caused by natural disasters and extreme temperature events could be 60 percent lower by 2050 if 70 percent of women are able to achieve a lower-secondary-school education. 

That’s why Room to Read is expanding our gender equality programming to encompass climate justice. Tapping into Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program curriculum, we are focusing on supporting girls with the critical life skills they need to engage in climate action. We are developing an innovative gender and climate justice curriculum that will foster young feminist leaders poised to take action and advance a global movement.  

One recent example of this climate justice curriculum came from our staff in Nepal. Room to Read Nepal’s Girls’ Education Program staff created a podcast focused on climate justice, which provides girls with skills to adapt to the realities of climate change. The podcast also highlights the need to support a sustainable and resource-efficient society. Nepali speakers can listen to an episode of the podcast below!