Recognizing Green Skills in Non-formal Learning Settings

6 September 2016

‘Green skills’ have emerged as a response to global sustainable development challenges linked to environmental protection, economic development and social inclusion. As a result, many countries are involved in fostering their citizens’ and workers’ ‘green skills’.  There is need to develop policies that offer clear directions on how to provide recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of these ‘skills’, including those acquired in formal and informal economic sectors. To work towards this objective, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), on 30 and 31 August 2016 hosted a Symposium entitled ‘Recognizing Green Skills in Non-Formal Learning Settings: A Comparative study in Asia’ at its premises in Hamburg, Germany. The Symposium, which is a collaboration between UIL and the UNESCO-UNEVOC Centre at the Education University of Hong Kong (EduHK) SAR China, brought together national experts from research and policy-making institutions from seven countries – Bangladesh, China, India, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Malaysia and Philippines – and one territory, Hong Kong SAR China.

Participants discussed and summarized the final results of a comparative study carried out over two-years, based on evidence collected from micro- small- and medium-enterprises (MSMEs) in four industries (automotive, waste management, plastic manufacturing and catering) in both the formal and informal economic sectors.  They shared how their understanding of existing challenges, issues and practices could help to formulate criteria to shape their government’s policies on ‘greening’, while ensuring that the recognition, validation and accreditation of green skills are included in the policies.

During the opening session, UIL’s Director, Arne Carlsen emphasized the importance of the study in developing principles which could contribute to real transformation in terms of policy, practices and thinking. He also stressed that green skills in management and monitoring and in reporting systems as well systematic documentation and assessment procedures need to be established in industries and enterprises. While the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight issues and harmonise efforts at the global level, it is in the national contexts that solutions for diverse and contextual problems have to be found. The Director noted that there is a great deal going on in terms of workers’ participation in learning activities which needs to be analyzed through research. He stressed that this is why comparative studies such as this one are so important.

The Symposium made a significant contribution towards the development of a model for the effective inclusion of green skills in accredited competences. There were suggestions to include cognitive, interpersonal, intrapersonal and professional skills as well as values and ethics in competency assessment and certification tools and standards. Furthermore, green practices and green skills training need to be promoted in workplaces, in work-related education and training, and through media.

The results of the study will be compiled in a book edited by Ms Margarita Pavlova, Director of UNEVOC Centre, Education University of Hong Kong, Mr Arne Carlsen, Director of UIL, and Ms Madhu Singh, UIL Senior Programme Specialist. The publication is scheduled to be launched at the fifth World Forum for Lifelong Learning, St. Petersburg 25 May 2017.