The European Commission today published a proposal for a Council Recommendation on learning in environmental sustainability . The objective of the proposal is to help Member States, schools, institutions of higher education, non-governmental organizations and all education providers to provide pupils and students with knowledge and skills on sustainability, climate change and the environment. A new European competence framework on sustainability published by the Joint Research Center , also available today, defines the skills needed for green transition, including critical thinking, decision of initiative, respect for nature and understanding the impact of daily actions and decisions on the environment and the global climate.
Ms. Margaritis Schinas, Vice President for the promotion of European life, said: "This participation has revolutionized the way we think the climate and the environment. Through our youth programs, the European Solidarity Corps and Discover EU, we promote the dynamics of sustainability involving our young people. This is a further step in the work to better integrate sustainability into education. »
Ms. Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, said this: "Considerable work is accomplished throughout Europe to help children, youth and adults to learn about and engage with climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainability. Our aim is to build on these efforts and work closely with Member States to put sustainability at the heart of education and training systems. All pupils and students, from an early age, need opportunities to understand and take action for environmental sustainability, to protect our planet and our future. »
The Commission proposal calls on Member States to:
- Provide learners of all ages with access to inclusive, high-quality education and training on climate change, biodiversity and sustainability;
- Make environmental sustainability learning a priority area of education and training policies and programs to support and enable the sector to contribute to the green transition;
- Encourage and support whole-institution approaches to sustainability that encompass teaching and learning; developing visions, planning and governance; the active participation of students and staff; building and resource management and partnerships with local and wider communities;
- Mobilize national and EU funds to invest in sustainable and green infrastructure, training, tools and resources to increase the resilience and readiness of education and training for the green transition.
Interviewed for a Eurobarometer survey, ie what should be the main priorities of the EU in the coming years, the first response of the young has been the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change (67%), followed by improving education and training (56%). This shows how important it is to take action.
The Erasmus + 2021-2027 also focuses heavily on the green transition in education and training. For the 2022 annual work program, priority will be given to green skills and competence development projects, future-oriented curricula and planned approaches to sustainability by education service providers. A specific call for large-scale projects will provide funding to identify, develop and test innovative approaches in education to environmental sustainability. The Commission will also provide training opportunities and communities of practice for educators by means of the school education portal and eTwinning. The new portal of the European Research Area education Commission provides easy access to information on education and training in the EU, including specific information about green education.
The European Commission's proposal will be considered by member states and then adopted by EU education ministers. The Commission will support the implementation of the recommendation through learning and exchanges between Member States, stakeholders and partner countries.
To prepare the proposal, the Commission consulted widely on the current state of play regarding learning opportunities for environmental sustainability in the EU. A public survey , which took place from June to September 2021, has received over 1300 responses and 95 position papers. Inputs were also collected during a series of online consultation workshops with policy makers, teachers, youth organisations, social partners, researchers and other interested bodies and organisations. The consultations highlighted the crucial role of education and training in helping people understand and take action on environmental sustainability.
In the public inquiry, 71% of respondents ranked education and training as the most important sector in this regard, before public bodies and governments (56%) and media (34 %). Providing quality professional development opportunities for teachers, trainers, youth workers and academic staff in environmental and sustainability issues was seen as one of the main priorities for action, while making sustainability a cross-cutting issue in curricula and study programs.