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Green Economy

ESD's role in achieving the transition to a green economy

The economic paradigm of greening the economy, against the background of multiple crises and accelerating resource scarcity, has gained paramount prominence in regional and international sustainable development processes. In 2009 the United Nations General Assembly, by its resolution A/64/236, decided to convene a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 and agreed that one of the main themes would be: “A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development” (Rio+20).

ESD is not the silver bullet for greening the economy, but it is one key element for achieving this transition since it promotes the necessary educational foundations in society. Most importantly, it is able to change people’s mind towards valuing sustainability. This is the key pillar for implementing the green economy concept, since key issues for the transition to a green economy — i.e., raised awareness, public participation and sustainable consumption, as well as reskilling the labour force — are essentially connected to a shift in peoples’ attitudes towards sustainable development.

The UNECE Strategy for ESD started a discussion series to address the opportunities and challenges for ESD in greening the economy.

Sixth Steering Committee meeting, 7 -8 April 2011 : Panel discussion on the role of ESD for greening the economy

The first panel discussion addressing level the role of ESD for greening the economy was held at the 6th

Steering Committee meeting in April 2011, with a view to send the key findings of the discussion to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development secretariat, as a contribution to the global preparations for Rio+20, and also to use them as an input to the regional preparatory meeting.

Read the discussion paper on the role of education for sustainable development in shifting to a green economy

Download the presentations and key outcomes of the panel discussion:

The challenge of meeting new skill needs as part of mitigation and adaptation efforts and
supporting a fair transition to more sustainable production (International Labour  Organisation)


Sustainable thinking for transitioning to a green economy (Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia)

  The preparatory process for Rio+20 and the  “Ten Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production”: Opportunities for the UNECE Strategy to create close linkages and synergies with those processes. (ESD Focal Point of Italy and Member of the Rio+20 Bureau)


Key discussion outcomes of the panel discussion

Seventh "Environment for Europe" Ministerial Conference, Astana, 21 - 23 September 2011: Side event on greening the economy: ESD and the role of technical education and vocational training
A green economy depends vitally on the timely supply of relevant and quality skills. Workers will need to upgrade their skills or acquire new ones; learners in both technical education and vocational training (TVET) as well as higher education will need to be equipped with skills for sustainability, which Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is able to provide.

 The panel discussion in Astana will  focus on the role of TVET for greening the economy in the UNECE region and will discuss the ability of ESD to support the TVET in addressing the demand for green skills. The panel will address the following key questions:


  • What kind of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities might there be in a green economy which do not exist now?
  • What kind of vocational/technical skills might be required in a green economy in order to take advantage of the new employment/entrepreneurial opportunities?
  • How is the technical education and vocational training sector preparing to meet the new employment skills/opportunities required in a green economy? What gaps might exist?
  • How could an ESD framework perspective support that effort in both the short and long term?
  • How can synergies be created between the UNECE Strategy for ESD and existing TVET networks in order to effectively address the needs of a green economy?