2021 Climate Adaptation Action Plan - U.S. Dept. of Education

U.S. Department of Education
Posted on: 12/21/2021 - Updated on: 8/23/2022

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The mission of the U.S. Department of Education (Department or ED) is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness. Fulfilling this mission requires that we confront the rapidly changing climate, its impact on students, educators, and infrastructure, as well as its implications for the future world in which the United States competes.

The Department’s vision for enhancing resilience in the face of the challenges presented by climate change, in response to E.O. 14008, includes leadership to support educator, parent, and student communities that are climate literate and prepared to act in support of climate change mitigation and adaptation, with a particular emphasis on equity. This vision will continue to develop through collaboration with other Federal, state, and local educational agencies as well as non-governmental organizations.

The Department’s actions must also include supporting the resilience of state and local educational agencies, schools, and institutions of higher education. This work will emphasize the relationship between climate and equity, particularly equitable access to safe, healthy, sustainable, and resilient 21st century learning environments. This 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan provides a framework to integrate adaptation into management decisions and operations and identifies new opportunities to inform a management, leadership, and policy response based on the identified effects of climate change now and in the future. This Plan is a living document and will be updated as necessary.


ED's mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. It does this by:

  1. Strengthening the Federal commitment to ensuring access to equal educational opportunities for every individual
  2. Supplementing and complementing the efforts of states, local school systems and other instrumentalities of states, the private sector, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to improve the quality of education, while encouraging the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs
  3. Promoting improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through Federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information
  4. Improving the coordination of Federal education programs
  5. Improving the management of Federal education activities
  6. Increasing the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress, and the public.

The Department’s FY 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Plan articulated the potential for climate change to affect the Department’s mission.

“Climate change could have an effect on the Department’s overall mission of promoting student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness. Climate change could have an effect on the Department’s ability to ensure equal access to educational opportunity for every individual. Climate change could have an effect on the Department’s efforts to supplement and complement the efforts of states, local school systems, and other instrumentalities of the states.”

With this FY 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan, the Department acknowledges that climate change is affecting the Department’s mission and the need for comprehensive and urgent action to promote adaptation and resilience through the Department’s programs and operations.

Past ED sustainability action plans, climate change adaptation plans, and environmental justice plans were designed to bring ED into this work. 1 This plan builds upon the lessons learned from those earlier plans to offer new actions that the Department can undertake to better adapt to climate change and develop both agency resilience as well as resilience across the nation’s schools.


Document Type
Adaptation Phase
Target Climate Changes and Impacts

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