Background

Knowledge and Skills as Key Parameters for an Inclusive Transition

Global momentum toward sustainable development has been renewed by the success of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement on climate change. However, as the OECD points out, a counter-trend has also developed, with some commentators calling for measures to increase national competitiveness, sometimes at the expense of environmental protection. Across the world people are concerned about lagging growth, inequality, job losses, and globalization. Some fear that uneven environmental regulation in a globalized economy could further drive socioeconomic malaise. With the 2030 deadline for the SDGs on the horizon, it has never been more important to modify the old narrative that sets environmental protection against economic prosperity. While many countries are striving to advance on a green transition, there still remains resistance to ambitious environmental policies in certain sectors, firms, segments of society, regions, and countries. This is due to the real or perceived negative impacts of environmental policies on competitiveness, jobs, and household budgets.

Knowledge and skills development can play a major role in addressing these concerns and devising more socially inclusive solutions. For example, technical staff in Finance Ministries need to be able to analyze the impact of a green subsidy or tax reform on different income groups and regions. Trade union leaders need to be able to analyze and clearly explain the impact of different green economy policies on jobs. Representatives of business associations in developed and developing countries need to be aware of benefits that local companies can gain from trading certified products and environmental goods and services. However, in reality many analytical tools are underused because staff in public and private institutions do not have the necessary competencies to apply them and interpret the results correctly. If countries want to utilize sound green economy policy solutions that are inclusive and address concerns related to competitiveness and employment, they need to systematically invest in the knowledge and skills development of those involved in designing, popularizing and implementing them. Beyond training in-service staff, a broader reform of the education system to prepare the next generation of decision-makers is needed.

 

The Important Role of Education and Training Institutions

To prepare for the increasing demand for green economy learning and capacity development, a growing number of development partners and initiatives offer training programmes that mainly target decision makers and professionals. However, many workshops remain one-off events without any linkages to standard training programmes for civil servants or the formal education system. In some cases, national learning institutions in developed and developing countries, such as universities or professional training institutes, have started to explore methods for the integration of green economy considerations in their curricula and learning activities. Opportunities for strengthening institutional capacities to deliver green economy learning range from integrating relevant principles in existing courses (e.g. in economics, tourism, or engineering courses) to developing and delivering dedicated green economy courses. Ultimately, building up institutional capacities to deliver green economy learning can help to build sustainability beyond individual training events that are supported by external resource persons.

PAGE has placed increasing emphasis on supporting partner countries in building the capacities of national education and training institutions to deliver recurrent green economy-related courses and trainings, in particular in the area of tertiary education. Going forward, PAGE is interested in increasing collaboration with national schools of public administration, civil service training institutes, universities and other relevant institutions to scale-up green economy learning for current and future public officials. These schools and institutes, given their reach and prestige, can play a crucial role in creating a new narrative around green growth and national competitiveness within Governments (and beyond).