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Navigating Sustainability in Adult Education: Taking the First Steps in a Manageable Way

In the field of environmental sustainability, it isn't easy to approach sustainability in a manageable manner.

Tina Mavrič
Community Contributor (Bronze Member).

In the field of environmental sustainability, there are several buzzwords that can seem intimidating. Terms like circular economy, regeneration, greenwashing, and biodegradable can frighten individuals from engaging in the topic. Additionally, the sheer complexity of sustainability can make it difficult for people without a starting point to navigate. 

I will guide you on how to approach sustainability in a manageable manner and take the essential first steps towards adopting a more sustainable educational practice.

Before diving into the practical steps, let's first clarify what we mean by sustainability in adult education. Sustainability, in this context, refers to designing and implementing educational practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is comprised of the environmental, social and economic pillars.

To make sustainability more manageable, it is essential to break it down into smaller steps. Start by focusing on specific aspects or themes that align with your vision and organizational goals. For example, you could begin by looking at reducing waste, promoting energy efficiency, or integrating sustainable practices into the curriculum. By starting small and gradually expanding efforts, the path toward sustainability becomes easier.

Collaboration and engagement are needed from all stakeholders. Involve everyone: your educators, learners, administrators, and even the local community, if possible. Encourage open dialogue, seek input, and create opportunities for active participation. Offer training sessions, workshops, or webinars to equip educators with the skills and resources they need to incorporate sustainability into their teaching practices. If possible, provide learners with opportunities to understand and apply sustainable principles through interactive and experiential activities.

Now that I piqued your interest, let’s do some research together. 

There are interesting publications available in multiple languages. For example:

  • GreenComp is a guide for understanding sustainability skills. It helps both learners and educators by defining what it means to be sustainable. It meets the increasing demand for people to learn how to live, work, and behave sustainably. It's made for anyone, no matter their age or education level, and can be used in any type of learning environment.

  • The European Green Deal wants Europe to be climate-neutral by 2050, a big move for sustainability. It focuses on getting everyone involved—people, communities, and industries—to reach its goals. While it doesn't directly focus on education, it sees education and training as crucial for reaching its targets.


We've found some simple actions you can take and useful readings. How about we explore some learning practices as well?

Do you want to play a role in educating other people about how they can protect our planet? Then visit Eco-active for planet and make yourself familiar with their manual and toolkit for trainers. They also share some of the eco-habits and ecological competences. They also created the Code of Conduct to help trainers and educators run their training sessions more successfully in respect of our planet while also sharing interesting webinars on several different topics, like permaculture principles, megatrend cards, game of principles etc.

Eco-Literacy and Green Education for Climate Action (ECOLitAct) seeks to empower VET practitioners/educators and learners to counter misinformation related to environment and climate change, and to inspire them to adopt eco-friendly behaviours/attitudes. Their toolkit offers a flexible collection of eco-literacy modules, including misinformation and climate change.

If you are working with younger adults, then the Greening youth information services guide can be of help. This publication focuses on the environmental dimension of sustainability and on how youth information and counselling services can and should embrace environmental sustainability issues and greener practices. They focus on a participatory process, share some policy recommendations and present a toolbox of green non-formal education activities.

If you wish to improve the everyday practices of your organisations, visit the Sustainability Matrix for Adult Learning Institutions Work (SMALEI) website. Through an interactive matrix with a self-assessment questionnaire discover what you already do and use other areas as an inspiration on what you can improve.

But you do not have to do it alone! 

The Education for Climate Coalition is a European community supporting teaching and learning for green transition and sustainable development. It's all about making a difference, whether it's in your school, neighbourhood, or region, and actively contributing to the environmental changes our societies are undergoing. As part of the European Union's efforts for environmental sustainability, it's a flagship initiative within the European Education Area by 2025 and a key component of the European Green Deal. By promoting a participatory approach, it enhances both the Council's recommendation on teaching for green transition and sustainable development and GreenComp, the sustainability competence framework, by facilitating action on climate education challenges at the grassroots level. An additional value of the community is your chance to connect with other people speaking your language, through joining the country groups. 

Embarking on the journey of sustainability can initially seem scary, with complex terminology and multiple challenges. However, by breaking it down into manageable steps and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, we can pave the way for meaningful progress. Don’t be afraid to learn from multiple resources available and from the community at hand. 

To discover more about sustainability causes, visit:


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Profile picture for user jumasame.
Community Hero (Gold Member).
Thu, 07/04/2024 - 21:39

Creo que hemos avanzado, pero aún estamos en la prehistoria de la sostenibilidad, debemos seguir formando y educando en los retos que nuestro medio físico nos plantea, y necesitamos también políticas de apoyo, efectivas que no se quede solo en intenciones. Saludos
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Profile picture for user aniltoros07.
Abdullah Anil TOROS
Community Hero (Gold Member).
Fri, 06/07/2024 - 11:03

This article beautifully breaks down the complexities of sustainability in adult education, making it approachable and actionable. By highlighting practical steps and valuable resources, it empowers educators to integrate sustainable practices into their teaching. The emphasis on collaboration and community involvement is particularly inspiring, showing that together, we can make a meaningful impact on our environment. Great job in making sustainability accessible and engaging for all!

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