Towards a Coherent European Approach on Target 4.7
Yesterday, Bridge 47’s multi-stakeholder event brought together EU policy and decision makers, researchers and civil society representatives to discuss the development of a coherent, European approach to transformative education.
Transformative education is lifelong learning designed to equip people with the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, through the development of key competencies such as critical thinking and global citizenship; as captured in Sustainable Development Goal Target 4.7.
This online event included two panel exchanges and an open discussion, with the aim of building bridges between the different thematic areas encompassed in Target 4.7, and mobilising action towards creating a coherent European approach to Target 4.7.
In her opening remarks, Themis Christophidou, the Director-general for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) at the European Commission, stressed the important role of education in ensuring an inclusive, green and digitally transitioned future in Europe:
“Sustainable Development Goal 4.7 calls for us to ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development by 2030. To find a balance that respects our own needs, and the needs for our planet, we need to change our behaviour, and that begins with education. Education in a lifelong learning perspective is key to changing mindsets and empowering citizens with the strength of knowledge to take action for a greener, more sustainable Europe. I am convinced that education and training policies that gear towards inclusive, green, and digital transitions hold the key to Europe’s future resilience and prosperity.”
Christophidou also highlighted the new education for climate coalition, which connects students, teachers and stakeholders at a local and national level to mobilise action that will make a difference in their neighbourhoods and regions. The dedicated online platform for this movement launches today, as a place to collect ideas and facilitate the creation of new community pledges and projects.
The first panel exchange took place between Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform, Harm-Jan Fricke, Global Learning Consultant and Dr Karen Pashby, Reader at Manchester Metropolitan University.
What are the advantages of having a coherent European approach to Target 4.7?
All panelists mentioned the importance of a holistic and cohesive approach to education, and the need to work across silos. Brikena Xhomaqi stressed the need for a holistic approach in policy, while Harm-Jan Fricke outlined how all sectors – from businesses and private enterprise to academia and educators - could benefit from such coherent approach. Karen Pashby noted that SDG 4.7 is the cornerstone for achieving the whole of Agenda 2030, and a “coherent approach to SDG 4.7 would provide a landing and launch place for our work towards equitable futures”.
What global trends and processes connected to Target 4.7 can we draw inspiration from in Europe?
Harm-Jan Fricke highlighted the importance of looking to indigenous knowledge and communities for how they approach informal learning, and Karen Pashby suggested that by involving more of the dialogue with indigenous people in policy work on education in the EU, we need to be willing de-center ourselves from how we have previously understood and implemented education in the EU.
Brikena Xhomaqi cited UNESCO’s Learning Cities initiative as a good example of how-to bring issues to communities at the local level, which Europe should take inspiration from, as “Europe tends to take a reactive approach, as opposed to taking inspiration from and collaborating with the rest of the world. We have a problem of silos. It’s important that Europe works with the rest of the world. There are many examples of good practice within CSO’s in the education and training sector in the EU, who work well on an international level.”
The second panel exchange took place between Annika Lindblom, President, European Sustainable Development Network, Ulrike Pisiotis, Policy Officer at the European Commission, and Anna Paskova, Director of Department of Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development, Czech Ministry of the Environment.
How could a coherent European approach to Target 4.7 support Europe in achieving its objectives under Agenda 2030, European Green Deal and others?
It was pointed out that education and training will play a critical role for us to achieve the EU Green Deal and the Agenda 2030. Annika Lindblom suggested an increased focus on lifelong-learning and de-learning, while Anna Paskova acknowledged that much more attention in the upcoming years will be given to transformative education at EU level, as the pandemic has shown we need to rethink our approach to education and working together as opposed to in silos.
Ulrike Pisiotis commented, "education policies are the foundation for the transformation we need in Europe. We need to have a coherent approach at an EU level to ensure sustainability is integrated across all EU member state, through initiative such as Education for Sustainability, GreenComp and the European Education Agenda.”
What potential routes do you see to take forward a coherent European approach to Target 4.7? What concrete processes could this coherent approach connect to?
Working collaboratively across silos was highlighted as a priority. Ulrike Pisiotis highlighted the need for a common language and common framework, while Anna Paskova emphasised the importance of strong political leadership. Annika Lindblom noted “we should not get rid of the silos but learn how to dance between them. We need a whole society approach and we need to make more institutionalised dialogue between institutions a reality.”
The panel exchange was followed by an open discussion with audience participation, exploring topics such as barriers to synergies, how we can support and improve teacher capacity, and ways to ensure more aspects of SDG 4.7 are included in policy.