One more year, EARLALL took actively part at the Lifelong Learning Week, organised by the Lifelong Learning Platform at the European Parliament. This time, the Week took a fully digital shape, attracting participants not only from all over Europe, but the whole world. EARLALL, together with EfVET (European Forum for Vocational Education & Training) and the EAEA (European Adult Education Association), organised a workshop on the topic of green competences on 3 December 2020. This event built on the work that began at the previous Lifelong Learning Week (more information available here), during which EARLALL and EfVET hosted the “GreenComp?” meeting. This first event already brought to the table the need of a European framework for green competences before MEPs and representatives from the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee.
Under the title “GreenComp: taking green skills one step further,” the three organising associations brought together stakeholders from different education-related sectors (i.e., VET, adult learning, development cooperation) and institutional settings (civil society, VET providers, EU institutions, UNESCO), hosted by MEP Marcos Ros (S&D group). The discussion, moderated by Noelia Cantero (EARLALL Director) revolved around the best way to provide an effective green competences framework that has an impact across education sectors and helps build more sustainable societies.
MEP Marcos Ros highlighted European initiatives that already mention the need for education systems to be involved in a transition towards a more sustainable Europe, such as the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Skills Agenda, among others. He welcomed the GreenComp policy paper launched by EARLALL and EfVET in spring 2020, also joined by the EAEA, and advocated for “a well educated childhood” as a “guarantee of a better citizenship competence in the future,” including sustainability, but also for lifelong learning opportunities for all. From the side of the European Commission, Anusca Ferrari (DG EMPL) acknowledged the important role of education in achieving the twin transition towards a green and digital Europe, and reminded that “the EU’s [COVID-19] recovery must not be at the expense of a green and sustanaible development.” From the European Economic and Social Committee’s (EESC) perspective, Tatjana Babrauskienė stated that “green skills education needs to be mainstreamed throughout all sectors and levels of education — formal, non-formal and informal —, from early childhood to adult learning, and including also teacher education.” She called for a rebalancing exercise, putting green skills at the same level of digital skills in terms of priority, going beyond the labour market to everyday life.
Grassroots level experiences and local and regional realities must pave the way towards achieving a common framework. TKNIKA, Basque VET Applied Research Centre, introduced with a video how green skills are embedded within the VET curricula with a sectoral approach towards sustainable gastronomy, energy and building industries, among others, extending the green colour to a full palette of sustainability: VET colours. From an adult education point of view, Lidwien Vos de Wael presented best practices in the Netherlands: Environment Centre Rotterdam (environment coaches), Exercising.nl (Doing Green online course), Colorful Green, climate tables and citizens’ assemblies.
Within a more international scope, Murray Biedler (UNESCO) showcased best practice examples on human capacity development and water sector development in Africa. He highlighted the role of African networks of centers of excellence on water, which provide a platform for regional dialogue and collaboration with policy representatives.
Closing words by James Calleja (EfVET President) and Gina Ebner (EAEA Secretary General) reminded of the importance of teacher and educator training as well as the role of a true inter-generational dialogue in order to achieve the aims outlined during the event. Gina Ebner also insisted that “there are many good initiatives around already, but what we need is to upscale and mainstream them, as they are often still in a project stage and financed through project grants.”
The event was a key milestone within the GreenComp initiative. A high level of participation over 80 attendants representing different sectors and levels, and a strong interest from the European institutions in the topic demonstrated that this initiative arrives at the right time and that needs to be boosted to mainstream green skills at all policy levels. Noelia Cantero, EARLALL Director, announced the launch of a new website, jointly developed by EARLALL, EfVET and EAEA in partnership with p-consulting.gr, which aims at supporting the development of a European framework of green competences that is based on the needs on the ground and builds on regional and local best practices. The website will be available in the upcoming weeks.