Council Recommendation of 16 June 2022 on learning for the green transition and sustainable development 2022/C 243/01 (Text with EEA relevance)

Date of Signature16 June 2022
Published date27 June 2022
Official Gazette PublicationOfficial Journal of the European Union, C 243, 27 June 2022
27.6.2022 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 243/1


of 16 June 2022

on learning for the green transition and sustainable development

(2022/C 243/01)

(Text with EEA relevance)


Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Articles 165 and 166 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,


1. Across the Union, while many Member States have made good progress in the implementation of policies and programmes of learning to support the green transition and to promote learning for sustainable development, there is nonetheless a need to continue and step up efforts in that regard. Policy and practice for this kind of learning should be further stimulated and supported. It is necessary to recognise the need for interconnected learning across the environmental, economic and social pillars of sustainable development, while placing a specific focus on the environmental pillar.
2. The European Green Deal (1), the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (2), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) strategy Education for Sustainable Development for 2030 and the related United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) work (3) highlight the key role of schools, higher education and other education and training institutions in engaging with learners, parents, educators (4) and the wider community on the changes needed for a successful, just and inclusive green transition. In its conclusions on ‘Biodiversity – the need for urgent action’ (5), the Council stressed that investing in education, among other areas, is key in gathering the best data and finding the best solutions in this regard. The EU Youth Strategy identifies a sustainable green Europe as a goal and calls for all young people to be environmentally active and educated.
3. Learning for the green transition and sustainable development supports learners of all ages in acquiring the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to live more sustainably, in changing patterns of consumption and production, in embracing healthier lifestyles and in contributing – both individually and collectively – to a more sustainable economy and society. It also contributes to building the skills and competences increasingly needed in the labour market. It promotes understanding of the interconnected global challenges we face, including the climate crisis, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, all of which have environmental, social, economic and cultural dimensions.
4. The Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, notably Target 4.7, call for all learners to acquire by 2030 the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development (6).
5. The Communication on the European Education Area (7), the European Pillar of Social Rights (8), the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030) (9) and the Communication on a new ERA for Research and Innovation (10) call for education and training policies and investments to be geared towards inclusive green and digital transitions for future resilience and prosperity.
6. The key competences, as defined in the European Reference Framework of Key Competences for Lifelong Learning (11), aim to support people across Europe in gaining the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for personal fulfilment and development, employability, social inclusion, sustainable lifestyle, successful life in peaceful societies, health-conscious life management and active citizenship in a time of rapid and profound change.
7. The European Skills Agenda (12) announced support for the development of a core, green skills set for the labour market with a view to creating a generation of environment-conscious professionals and green economic operators, integrating environmental and climate considerations into general education, higher education, vocational education and training as well as research. Europe needs highly competent professionals to support the green transition and to be a world leader in sustainable technologies.
8. The Council Recommendation on vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience (13) and the Osnabrück Declaration recognise the VET sector as key for the digital and green transitions.
9. The European Climate Pact invites individuals, communities and organisations to participate in climate action and building a greener Europe by offering opportunities to learn about climate change, develop and implement solutions, and connect with others to multiply the impact of those solutions. The Education for Climate Coalition aims to create a community led by students and teachers, together with their schools and networks and other educational actors, to learn from as many relevant experiences as possible, and bridge fragmentation between education sectors, domains and people.
10. The Digital Education Action Plan (14) provides a vision for high-quality, inclusive and accessible European digital education and training and underscores the importance of digital technologies as powerful enablers for the green transition whilst, at the same time, facilitating a move towards sustainable behaviour in both the development and use of digital products.
11. The New European Bauhaus brings a cultural and creative dimension to the European Green Deal, aiming to demonstrate how sustainable innovation offers tangible, positive changes in our daily life, including in school buildings and other learning environments.
12. UNESCO, through its Education for Sustainable Development programme, has been working to make education and training a more central and visible part of the international response to the climate crisis and to deliver on all Sustainable Development Goals, notably Target 4.7 on education for sustainable development. Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, parties commit to promoting and cooperating on climate change in the context of sustainable development in all dimensions, in particular on education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information.
13. There is a growing awareness and desire among young people to engage in sustainable development issues, particularly environmental and climate issues. The results of a Eurobarometer released in May 2022 indicate that young people in the EU consider ‘protecting the environment and fighting climate change’ to be one of the key priorities the European Year of Youth (2022) should focus on. OECD data (15) from 2018 already demonstrate a high awareness among 15-year-olds of climate change and the environmental crisis and the need to address it. However, the same OECD data show that far fewer students feel a sense of agency to make a real difference. The extent of the climate and environmental crisis can lead to learners feeling overwhelmed and disempowered, which can be exacerbated by inaccurate information and disinformation.
14. It is of great importance that education and training systems and institutions respond to the growing youth voice on the climate and biodiversity crises and involve young people in designing solutions related to learning for the green transition and sustainable development and taking action for a sustainable future. The 2022 European Year of Youth plays an important role in further stimulating youth engagement.
15. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted our close links with nature and put renewed focus on education and training systems. Lessons have been learned about new possibilities for education and training, including blended learning approaches in different settings (including online), engagement and autonomy of learners and the links between formal education and the wider community. The pandemic also increased a long-standing concern for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children, young people and adults.
16. Individual early childhood education and care centres, schools, higher education institutions, research organisations, VET providers and local communities are becoming increasingly active in relation to the climate and biodiversity crises. However, sustainability is not yet a systemic feature of education and training across the EU.
17. In many countries, learning for sustainability and equally viable concepts, such as education for sustainable development and global citizenship education, have been taken up in policies, strategies and curricula. However, educators need further targeted support, expertise, and training opportunities to incorporate the principles of the green transition and sustainable development in their teaching and training practices. They often feel insufficiently equipped to deal with eco-anxiety and eco-pessimism and to help learners engage with climate and environmental issues in a positive way.
18. Whole-institution approaches to sustainability incorporating all areas of activity are not always sufficiently present. Such approaches can include teaching and learning; governance; research and innovation; and infrastructure, facilities and operations, and should engage learners, staff, parents, and local and wider communities.

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