Green skills for sustainable development

26 October 2015

The recognition of environmentally friendly practices in the formal and informal economic sectors is a critical factor in accomplishing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted at the United Nations Summit in September 2015. With this in mind, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and the UNESCO-UNEVOC Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) started a new research study entitled The Inclusion of Green Competencies in the Recognition, Validation and Accreditation (RVA) of Non-formal and Informal Learning. This comparative study has been developed with research and policy-making institutions in six countries in the Asia and Pacific region:

1) International Education Centre, Zhenjiang Technical Institute of Economics (ZJTIE), China and Shenzhen Polytechnic (SZPT) Hong Kong SAR China;
2) Manipal City and Guilds, India;
3) National Institute for Technical Education and Skills Development (NITESD), Philippines;
4) Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) Nepal;
5) National Academy of Education, Kazakhstan;
6) Islamic University of Technology (IUT) Bangladesh.

Reasons for conducting the research: green skills recognition in formal and informal economies

One of the main objectives of this research is to study the role of RVA in promoting environmentally friendly practices or ‘green skills’ in small and micro-enterprises. Green skills require more attention from recognition mechanisms as they are based on attitudes, values and ethical behaviour acquired through non-formal and informal on-the-job learning. Small and micro-enterprises have been slow to recognize environmentally friendly practices, despite the existence of government policies and environmental legislation. In contrast to larger firms, most small and micro-enterprises still lack their own methods of assessing and recognizing environmentally friendly competencies and making these visible. Furthermore, while RVA practices have mainly been used in the education sector, their potential in work-related contexts in small and micro-enterprises has yet to be explored.

The importance of recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA)

At a Symposium hosted by the HKIEd on 26 and 27 August 2015, national experts gained heightened awareness of RVA as a powerful mechanism for the recognition of green skills. The experts discussed the preliminary results of a semi-structured questionnaire prepared by HKIEd and UIL for data collection. Topics covered included mapping of environmentally friendly practices in the various industries; use of RVA mechanisms; and factors and principles contributing to the development of green skills and their inclusion in RVA.

One of the important points that emerged from the Symposium was that recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) becomes a more profitable investment for enterprises when it is expressed in terms of industrial standards and linked to national qualifications frameworks (NQFs). In addition, RVA makes visible the application of green skills in the work context. To effectively promote the recognition of green skills, it is important to link RVA to the interests of the different stakeholders, such as employers, employees, professional associations and education and training providers.

Importance of the outcomes to UNESCO Member States

The results of the comparative study The Inclusion of Green Competencies in the Recognition, Validation and Accreditation (RVA) of Non-formal and Informal Learning will be published in 2016. This publication will highlight the differences between enterprises in the formal and informal economies across four industries: catering, the automotive industry, waste management in the service sector, and PVC production in the manufacturing sector.

To inform government policies in the Asia and Pacific region, a model for the development of green skills and their inclusion in RVA will be piloted in a few countries selected from those participating. With support from policymakers and practitioners, the model will be scaled up to help further countries in the region to promote sustainable development and lifelong learning policies and practices.

Highlighting the importance of the study, Arne Carlsen, Director of UIL, said, ‘The study will not only address the challenges of integrating RVA into the human resource development policies of small and micro-enterprises in formal and informal economies, but is expected to lead to policy change with regard to adopting environmentally friendly practices.’