Council Recommendation: education for environmental sustainability needs to be more systemic


The newly adopted Council Recommendation on learning for the green transition and sustainable development underlines the importance of investing in education for environmental sustainability and interconnecting learning across the environmental, economic and social pillars of sustainable development. It also recognises the lack of systemic approach to learning about environmental sustainability in education and training across the EU. Therefore, the accompanying Staff Working Document serves as a handbook for practitioners, providing relevant examples and best practices from across Europe. The Document also presents the outcomes of the public survey and consultations organised by the European Commission in 2021.

The Recommendation is based on a proposal put forward by the Commission in January 2022 to which ETUCE has provided its written input. The proposal was published at the same time as a new European competence framework on sustainability prepared by the Joint Research Centre which maps out the competences needed for the green transition, including critical thinking, initiative-taking, respecting nature and understanding the impact everyday actions and decisions have on the environment and the global climate.

Among other things, the Council Recommendation suggests that Member States:

  • Establish learning for the green transition and sustainable development as one of the priority areas in education and training policies and programmes;
  • Provide learning opportunities in formal, non-formal and informal settings;
  • Support and enhance teaching and learning for the green transition and sustainable development by providing infrastructure, digital tools and resources and building in particular on the new European Competence Framework on Sustainability;
  • Develop further whole-institutional approaches to sustainability incorporating teaching and learning, governance, infrastructure, and engage all members of the learning community and local and wider communities;
  • Provide teachers and other education personnel with further targeted support, expertise and training opportunities to incorporate the principles of green transition and sustainable development, and to deal with eco-anxiety and eco-pessimism.

ETUCE welcomes the Council Recommendation and invites its member organisations to promote it together with the Staff Working Document with their national ministries and education employers. However, ETUCE warns about the absence of mentioning the strong social dialogue in education in these documents which is a crucial pre-requisite to meaningful and inclusive education for environmental sustainability and green transition.