The Rio+20 Conference in 2012 provided a major international momentum to advance the green economy concept and its focus on integrating environmental and social considerations in macro-economic planning and policy making. More recently the principles of an ‘inclusive green economy’ (IGE) have been reiterated through the Sustainable Development Goals, for example Goal 8 which calls for “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.

The effective translation of the IGE concept into national policies creates challenges as well as opportunities, of which scaling up learning and skills development is one important area. Topics such as valuing natural capital, ecosystem services, advancing resource efficiency, or green economy modelling and assessments, are often unfamiliar to decision-makers in the public and private sector. Yet, awareness, knowledge and skills related to these topics are a key determinant for IGE policy analysis, reform and implementation at all levels.

 Beyond targeted training for decision-makers the transition towards an inclusive green economy requires national education and training systems to respond to new and changing skills needs. There will be decreased demand for some jobs (e.g. in the production and use of fossil fuels) and increased demand for others (e.g. in the area of public transport). The development of new technologies and practices also results in the emergence of some entirely new occupations, such as solar technicians. Moreover, skills profiles within existing occupations will change (e.g. climate-smart agriculture skills needed by farmers) (ILO 2011).   

 To address IGE learning needs in a systematic manner, some countries have taken steps to take a strategic and long term approach to green economy learning, including strengthening of national learning institutions. For example, the PAGE partner countries Mongolia and Ghana have initiated the development of a National Green Economy Learning Strategy/Action Plan with a view to define learning priorities and strengthening  the capacity of national institutions to provide IGE learning. The strategies also help to raise the visibility of education and training as a means to achieve green economy objectives.

The Importance of Learning Institutions

To address the increasing demand for IGE learning and capacity development, a growing number of development partners and initiatives offer training programmes that mainly target decision makers and professionals. In addition, national learning institutions in developed and developing countries, such as universities or professional training institutes, have started to explore how to integrate green economy considerations in their curricula and learning activities. Opportunities for strengthening institutional capacities to deliver IGE learning  range from integrating green economy principles in existing courses (e.g. in economics, tourism, or engineering courses) to developing and delivering a full-fledged university green economy course. In the area of vocational education and training, curricula are changed to adapt to the greening of existing jobs and the emergence of new green jobs.

 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.