The European Economic and Social Committee calls for better integration of green skills and competences into education


In its recent opinion entitled “Towards an EU strategy for enhancing green skills and competences for all” the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) gives several recommendation to the EU and national policy makers to enhance teaching green skills, competences and sustainable environment for all learners. The EESC, whose role is to advise the European Parliament, the EU Council, and the European Commission reaffirms the urgency to implement the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those that combine education and sustainable environment[1].

According to the Opinion “Green skills and competences should be understood as those skills which society and the economy need in relation to the environment. Environmental issues cover a wide range of issues from climate change and pollution to natural resources and biodiversity.” The EESC notes that more information is needed on the policies of the EU Member States on integrating green skills within the education curricula at all level, and they ask the European Commission to carry out international research on national strategies and curricula on environment-related subjects.

The EESC calls on the European Commission and member states to enhance the implementation of the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is to make quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning (LLL) a right for all in Europe, and to make this right applicable to learning about green skills. The EESC also underlines that policies to enhance learning on sustainable environment should be supported by sustainable public funding agreed with the social partners and the civil society.  

On the importance of developing green skills, the EESC suggests that the European Commission develops a strong European level policy on green skills and environmental responsibility which should apply transversally in all education sectors. Importantly, the EESC asks the EU member states to “support teachers' and trainers' initial and continuous professional development on environmental protection as a transversal topic for teachers across all subjects, levels and types of education and training, as well as specific training on green skills and competences”. The Opinion also underlines that teachers and trainers should be provided with relevant, up-to-date teaching materials, tools, methods and instructional practices to be ready to teach environmental responsibility and green skills and competences.

ETUCE welcomes these recommendations and that the EESC underlines the importance of social dialogue in policy decisions of integrating sustainable environment and teaching green skills in education. In its recent view on the European Education Area, ETUCE made clear that green skills and competences need to be linked to social and environmental responsibility and to creating a green school culture. As pointed out in its position on the European Skills Agenda (2020), ETUCE also believes that more emphasis should be put on supporting teachers’ professional education and training and on ensuring sustainable public investment in education and teacher’s training. Active support to teachers and trainers is crucial to equip them for the green transformation of education institutions and to enable them to integrate environment-related topics in the current pedagogical methods.

The Opinion can be read in all EU languages here: link

[1]Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development" (SDG 4-target 7) and “Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning” (SDG 13-target 3).