On 16 June, the Council of the EU adopted a Recommendation on learning for the green transition and sustainable development. With this initiative, Member States underline their commitment to stimulate and support policies and programmes about learning for the green transition and sustainable development.
The adoption follows the “Proposal for a Council recommendation on learning for environmental sustainability” launched by the European Commission in January. YERUN welcomes the step taken by Member States on this important issue, and particularly the fact that the adopted Recommendation broadens the perspective in a way that encompasses the green transition and sustainable development as a whole.
Moreover, we welcome the focus on:
- The educators: the recommendation acknowledges the importance of integrating the green transition and SD into teacher and training education programmes. Indeed, this is a necessary step to create a generation of educators that possess the knowledge and skills needed in this transition. Furthermore, it is also acknowledged that teaching and learning (T&L) for the green transition and SD needs to be supported by providing infrastructure, digital tools, resources and supporting educators’ digital competences. We also welcome the focus on investing in and providing training on green and sustainable equipment, resources and infrastructure. Last, but not least, the link to career progression, and rewards and incentives for professional development is very timely.
- The learners: the recommendation highlights the importance of involving learners in meaningful and coordinated ways in proposing and co-creating approaches to learning about the green transition and SD. This is a welcomed approach, as learners are part and parcel of the learning process and not mere recipients. Their input and feedback is key in ensuring a type of education that is effective and impactful. We also value the focus on lifelong learning and on learning methods and approaches that are collaborative, experimental, practically oriented, interdisciplinary and relevant to local context and traditions.
- The education institutions: the recommendation suggests sustainability to be part of the internal/external review and quality assurance mechanisms of institutions; indeed, similarly to the assessment of educators, this is a valuable incentive when it comes to the assessment of institution. Moreover, a focus is put on the need to support institutions in the development of small and tailored learning courses on the green transition and SD that can lead, among other, to micro-credentials.
- Funding: we welcome the fact that Member States agreed on the importance to mobilise national and EU funds for investment in infrastructure, training, tools and resources to increase the resilience and preparedness of formal and non-formal E&T for the green transition. The transition will not happen without appropriate support in this regard.
While not legally binding, the Council recommendation represents an important step forward in the EU’s effort to provide its learners with the mindset and the skills needed to build a more sustainable world. Indeed, while many initiatives are already underway, they are very much scattered across Europe, thereby preventing an harmonised approach from flourishing. The Recommendation might therefore open a new era in this regard, as it provides an important political backing to the grassroots initiatives existing already across the EU, a framework within which initiatives can further flourish in a more structured way and to which the leadership of the higher education institutions in Europe can refer to when developing their institutional strategies.
YERUN is working on this topic together with its ad hoc group on the SDGs and will shortly publish a paper showing how the reality on the ground reflects the Council Recommendation and how young European research universities are taking the lead in contributing to a more sustainable future.