Resources | Theoretical material

In this section, you will find a wide collection of theoretical materials on environmental and eco-education referring to the European and global levels. In particular, these documents are linked to the five areas of sustainability that will be included in SMALEI future matrix.

Nachhaltigkeit als ganzheitlicher Bildungsauftrag

The handbook illustrates how ALE institutions can practice sustainable development themselves and become a role model for change – in addition to playing a decisive role in terms of educational content. The handbook is intended to encourage other educational institutions to make their contribution to the sustainable transformation of society. It also shows which hurdles may have to be overcome on this path and how milestones can be achieved.

Umweltbildung und Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung - zielgruppenorientiert und wirkungsorientiert!

The following research questions are at the focus of the study:

  1. What are the prerequisites for a successful, participative, target group-oriented environmental education offer for the different target
  2. How can the intended effect of environmental education be achieved or be measured?
    In the present research project, the authors deal with these questions theoretically and empirically.

Special Eurobarometer 527 on Fairness perceptions of the green transition

This special Eurobarometer seeks to tackle European perspectives on the green transition. Part 2 focuses particularly on perceptions of EU citizens of the green transition in relation to jobs and skills. The results on page 27-29 in particular highlight that those with higher education are more likely to support the green transition in their workplace, more likley to want to work on the green transition directly, and more likely to think they have the skills to participate in this transition.

Sustainability and Employability in the Time of COVID-19. Youth, Education and Entrepreneurship in EU Countries

This paper aims to identify several changes in the labor market structure in COVID-19 pandemic times. The context of the research is represented by the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the economic field, especially at the labor market level. This difficult situation could generate a negative impact in the sphere of traditional jobs and economic sectors. The main challenge for sustainable development in this new global situation is represented by human sustainability. Related to human sustainability, we emphasized the role played by the labor market and employability in mantling an optimal function at the social and economic level. For measuring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the economic sphere, we used a quantitative design based on descriptive and inferential statistics. The research variables are represented by unemployment rates in the EU-28, employability rates, educational levels, gender, economic growth, labor mobility, material deprivation, economic freedom, and human development indicators. Empirical findings present the situation of a deep economic crisis generated by economic degrowth and by high levels of unemployment rates in the EU-28. Moreover, we have observed several predictors of employability in the new pandemic context as: material deprivation by age (in the field of young people), employment rate by education (tertiary education), and economic freedom. Another important finding is related to the gender perspective. Statistical correlations estimate a positive linear correlation between gender (women) and low rates of employability in the EU-28. All these empirical results could prove valuable for scholars interested in the relations between employability and sustainability and for political decision makers involved in the effort of reducing the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic within national and trans-national economic systems.

Education for Sustainability in Practice: A Review of Current Strategies within Italian Universities

Universities play a crucial role in the short-term implementation of education for sustainable development goals (SDGs). The fourth SDG aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Indeed, SDG4 is not intended as a goal in itself, but rather, a tool to achieve different goals and explore the best practices, via deductive-theoretical or inductive-experiential methods. Still, current literature on education for SDGs does not always consider the infrastructural and practical factors affecting the success or the failure of the practices mentioned above. The main purpose of this paper is to organize and describe a set of ongoing education for sustainability strategies that took place from 2016 to 2019 in Italian universities. Eighteen best practices have been collected after a national call by the Italian Network of Sustainable Universities (RUS), that aimed to map the current landscape of SDGs-related actions. Data have been analyzed based on the qualitative description provided by each university, according to four criteria: trigger, course type, approach (top-down/bottom-up) and declared mission. Results are depicted as a map of the current Italian higher education system, where a predominant mission (teaching) and a prevalent driver (top-down) have been found as the frequent features of SDGs educational initiatives. Further developments highlight the value of this first country-wide mapping of the Italian Higher Education Institutions implementing SDGs in their activities, that can avoid the isolation of individual experiences and, most importantly, can suggest some comparability and transferability criteria for similar cases.

Teacher Education for Sustainability: The Awareness and Responsibility for Sustainability Problems

The theoretical framework of the present research is based on the socio-psychological model of sustainable behaviour by Juárez-Nájera (2010). For the purposes of this paper, just part of the research is related to personal norms. The paper provides the results of the awareness of consequences and the attribution of responsibility for environmental/ sustainability problems among students of the four Faculties of Teacher Education in four countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia. Research results indicate that students from Croatian and Slovenian Faculties of Teacher Education are characterised by a more pronounced awareness of environmental/sustainability problems than the students from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The responsibility for environmental/sustainability problems is higher among the students of the Faculty of Teacher Education from Croatia and Serbia than among students from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. It seems that a country is the major determiner of awareness and responsibility for environmental/sustainability problems. In general, the results of the present research provide significant guidelines for the reflection on the future of initial teacher education for sustainability and need for conducting interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research on personal norms and sustainable behaviour.

The Role of Adult Learning and Education (ale) in the Context

Based on its activities at the interface of adult education and development, DVV International has outlined its Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) understanding from a global perspective based on its participation and regular follow-up of global process and its engagement in partner countries around the world. The text starts with an outline of the evolution and global policy process related to ESD, followed by a thematic classification, main target groups, key educational approaches and key competences required by teachers and learners in order to become agents of change for sustainable development.

Achieving sustainable development goals through adult informal learning

This study identified informal economic activities in Hausa community in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. It examined how people acquire knowledge and skills about the identified informal economic activities and provided explanation on why people prefer informal economic activities to other types of economic activities to making a living in Hausa community in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. All these were with a view to providing information on how adult informal learning is being used as a means of achieving sustainable livelihood, and, consequently, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere. T

Reimagining adult education and lifelong learning for all: Historical and critical perspectives

This special issue of the International Review of Education explores the future of adult education and lifelong learning from different historical and contemporary vantage points. It starts from a premise that the international adult education community is poised at a pivotal historical juncture. Looming large are the educational implications of climate change, environmental degradation and unsustainable lifestyles; widening social and economic divisions; weakening democratic institutions and processes; outbreaks of war, conflict and hate crimes; massive shifts in technology, globalisation and workplace relations; and migration movements and intergenerational demographic trends. How might the adult education community respond to these shifting realities and to what appear to be fragile and uncertain futures? The convening of the Seventh International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VII) provides a timely opportunity for the proponents and practitioners of adult education to consider ways of addressing these serious challenges.

Conceptualising lifelong learning for sustainable development and education 2030

Lifelong learning has been identified as crucial to the achievement of sustainable development and quality education in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By incorporating the need to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all in the sustainable development goal 4 (SDG4), which was agreed by the United Nations member states in 2015, policy makers have recognised that education should reach beyond the formal institutional arrangements of primary, secondary and tertiary (or higher education). How, though, is lifelong learning being conceptualised in the practices of nations as they report progress on achievements towards these goals? Engaging with this question has concerned a number of writers in this journal.

Education in the light of sustainable development goals – The case of the European Union countries

The aim of this study is to compare the implementation of sustainable development goals targeted at an important area of socio-economic life: quality education. The study focuses on a sample of 28 European Union countries and uses multivariate approaches to check to what extent the goals have been achieved. Due to data availability, the study is based on data for 2018. Regardless of the employed method, the results, presented in the form of rankings, show that Romania and Italy achieved the lowest positions and were outliers; in contrast, Sweden was the best performer. The rankings underscore the differences within the European Union, highlighting the dissimilarities between countries. The results show that globalisation and the creation of unified policy frameworks in the European Union require additional effort at the domestic level, especially since education is an important element of the European Union’s strategies and the Sustainable Development Goals announced by the United Nations.


In 2018 EAEA published a background paper on Adult Education and Sustainability. Today, three years later the world has moved substantively. EAEA takes this background paper as an opportunity to bring us onto the same page, establish shared definitions and glance into the most recent policy developments. This paper gives room for in-depth discussion and advocacy. It acts as a call to action on the role of non-formal adult learning and education towards building a sustainable future for all. Time for soil. Let’s get our hands dirty.

Apprenticeships for Green economies and Societies

This publication draws from practices and research and provides insights into how apprenticeships can promote and react to a green economy and society, from small-scale modular curriculum adaptation, to more encompassing sectoral or regional approaches.

Sustainability in Scottish Apprenticeships

Green jobs, skills, training and reskilling are at the centre of the Government’s approach, driven by the the Climate Emergency Skills Plan 2020-20253. As a part of this response, SDS is exploring how apprenticeships can respond to the climate emergency and support employers & apprentices with the skills they need to champion sustainability and drive innovation.

Future-Proofing Adult Learning in Berlin, Germany

The report Future-Proofing Adult Learning in Berlin, Germany analyses strengths and bottlenecks in Berlin’s adult learning programmes. It stresses the importance of developing a long-term vision for continuing education and training in Berlin that brings together different actors from an adult learning landscape that offers a wide range of diverse services. It further highlights the need to expand local adult learning programmes that account for the city’s highly dynamic population and labour market. Section 3 particularly highlights the role of lifelong learning with green skills

OER: Adult Learning and Sustainability

The article provides an overview of ALE developments and sustainibility in the EU

Lifelong Learning in Sustainable Development Goal 4: What Does It Mean for UNESCO's Rights-Based Approach to Adult Learning and Education?

This article, which draws on a review of primary and secondary literature, examines the role of a human rights-based approach to adult learning and education (ALE) in the context of the global Education 2030 agenda, which is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched in 2015 by the United Nations.

Communities in Action: Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development

This handbook identifies principles and policy mechanisms to advance community-based learning for sustainable development based on the commitments endorsed by the participants of the “Kominkan-CLC International Conference on Education for Sustainable Development,” which took place in Okayama City, Japan, in October 2014.

Handbook of Lifelong Learning for Sustainable

The “Handbook of Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development” focuses on “strengthening capacity building in lifelong learning for sustainable development”, meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice in lifelong learning for sustainable development, which may be useful or implemented across the world.

A new green learning agenda: approacheys to quality education for climate action

this paper presents a heuristic intended to provide climate and education decisionmakers with: 1) a framework for conceptualizing the green skills needed to catalyze both technical and social transformation and 2) a tool for considering three approaches to quality education for climate action.

Learning to Leapfrog: Innovative Pedagogies to Transform Education

This report focuses on the teaching and learning element of the leapfrog framework, especially on pedagogical approaches and the role of teachers, but draws on the others as relevant. It does not attempt to be exhaustive and does not pretend to address neither all education policy variables, nor critical system factors such as political will and adequate funding, nor demand-side factors such as student and parent support for innovative approaches.

Identifying effective climate change education strategies: a systematic review of the research

. Two themes were identified that are common to most environmental education: (1) focusing on personally relevant and meaningful information and (2) using active and engaging teaching methods. Four themes specific to issues such as climate change were also generated: (1) engaging in deliberative discussions, (2) interacting with scientists, (3) addressing misconceptions, and (4) implementing school or community projects. Suggestions for addressing controversial topics like climate change are offered.

The colonial history of climate


This toolkit is to empower you to be who you want to be in the world, to help
you become more effective at making the world a better place, and reduce your
worries about climate change by helping with the solutions. The first step in
changemaking is learning how, and you are ready to start. These are
generalizations that might not completely match your situation but can be used
as inspiration for your individual changemaking journey. Enjoy all the wonderful
ideas in here. If you use them, they will absolutely help you improve the quality
of your life, and make the world a better place.


This Staff Working Document accompanies and supports the European Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on learning for environmental sustainability, adopted in January 2022. It provides detail on the concepts and recommendations put forward in this new initiative and presents research evidence and good practice examples from across Europe. It can serve as a guide for policy makers, educators and all individuals and organisations working on environmental sustainability in the education and training sector.

GreenComp: The European sustainability competence framework

GreenComp is a reference framework for sustainability competences. It provides a common ground to learners and guidance to educators, advancing a consensual definition of what sustainability as a competence entails.

Know your lifestyle project outputs

In cooperation with Second Chance-teachers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) engaged in development education, the didactic materials and workshop modules in this publication on different topics of sustainable consumption such as “Renewable Energies”, “Mobile Phones”, “Water as a Global Good”, “Global Good Production in the Textile Industry” and “Human Energy” have been compiled and developed to fill this gap.

A toolkit and training for youth climate social action

UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit (SCU) is launching a new Youth Climate Action Toolkit to empower young people to act on things that matter to them. The toolkit is suitable for 16-24-year-olds, and we encourage you to please download and share the kit with any (young) person you think may benefit from these tools! The newly developed toolkit has been produced in partnership with young people from the Avon Schools Eco Network, following pilot training held with the DETI Inspire team in the School of Engineering. The pilot involved 12 young climate activists who learnt how to be more effective with their own campaigning, whilst forming the foundations of this new toolkit to support other young people. As well as empowering young people to act, the toolkit aims to speak with and engage diverse audiences that may not otherwise take part (e.g., through filmmaking, persuasive writing and interactive stalls, etc).

Greening TVET and skills development (A practical guidance tool)

ILO has developed a step-by-step guidance tool for greening TVET and skills development, building on the recent findings of the ILO publication, Skills for a greener future: A global view, as well as earlier research, experience and lessons learnt from development cooperation projects in different Member States. This provided the basis for subsequent piloting of the tool in several countries, including Cambodia, Ghana, Thailand, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Philippines in 2021-2022.

The tool provides “how-to” guidance on designing competency standards and curricula for greener jobs, adapting training delivery and assessments to support greener learning, adapting practices to maintain a greener campus, greening the professional development of teachers and in-company trainers, and sensitizing enterprises. The tool also looks at how to support the greening of skills for the informal economy, as this is particularly relevant for developing countries. Finally, the tool discusses how to mainstream green practices throughout the whole system of initial and continuing technical and vocational education and training

Education for sustainable development; A roadmap

This roadmap sets out the urgent challenges facing the planet and explores the next step UNESCO is taking in responding to them through education with detail on new emphases and actions.
In order to build a follow-up to the Global Action Programme (GAP) (2015-2019) that contributes to Agenda 2030 and its 17 goals, the Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs (ESD for 2030) framework was adopted with the aim of increasing the contribution of education to building a more just and sustainable world

Plan de Acción de Educación Ambiental para la Sostenibilidad (2021-2025)

The PAEAS was born in a situation that demands the construction of solid bridges between the challenges
socio-ecological conditions we are facing and the necessary social and institutional responses before them. A time when it is more necessary than ever to develop a plural plan, participated in and open to society, capable of offering useful guidance to contribute to the reconstruction area of ​​a healthy and sustainable society-environment relationship

The climate in our hands (Climate change and land)

This OCE teacher’s handbook has been researched and written by the OCE team and the OCE’s scientif-
ic and education partners. The aim of this guide is to support teachers in implementing a range of activi-
ties on climate change and land in their classrooms.
This resource:

  • targets students from the upper primary school to the lower secondary school (ages 9 to 15 years);
  • includes scientific and pedagogical overviews,lesson plans, activities, worksheets and linksto external resources (videos and multimedia activities);
  • is interdisciplinary with lessons covering areas such as the natural sciences, the social sciences,
    the arts and philosophy;
  • promotes active pedagogies: inquiry, roleplay, serious games, debate and project-based learning