Education can help transform societies from fossil-fuel based to circular and sustainable. In an own-initiative opinion adopted in December, the EESC calls for transformative education that empowers young people to contribute to the green transition.

Humanistic values should be at the heart of education for sustainable development (ESD), with a focus on the environmental and social consequences of human behaviour. This requires education to be redefined, from pre-school to university and beyond.

"Sustainability is not only about the environment. There are many aspects, and all 17 Sustainable Developments Goals are equally important. Education plays a crucial role as it is a key enabler for all other SDGs," said Tatjana Babrauskienė, rapporteur for the EESC opinion: Empowering youth to achieve sustainable development through education.

Critical thinking and informed decision-making should be taught in school, so that children can grapple with sustainable development issues. At a basic level, children should be taught about sustainable energy, consumption and production, reducing food waste and making responsible food choices.

A recently adopted report on the Evaluation of the EU school scheme makes additional recommendations on how to improve the school system in the interest of sustainable development. "Improving food education measures with class time devoted to the origin and value of food products and visits to farms and agri-food businesses could make the EU school scheme more effective and contribute to youth education on sustainable healthy eating," said the rapporteur Arnold Puech d'Alissac. The EESC also called for better use of funding for ESD, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Erasmus+, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund Plus.

The implementation of ESD is currently at various stages across the Member States and will need to be tailored to local circumstances.

"We must lose no time in transforming education to ensure a sustainable future in the Member States, and it is key to actively include young people, teachers and parents in the process," said Ms Babrauskienė. (ks)