In January, 2022, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the EU Commission, as part of the European Green Deal’s policy action to develop a European sustainability competence framework which will play a central role in promoting learning about environmental sustainability in the EU, published the Greencomp: The European Sustainability Competence Framework’ report.

The report is based on extensive literature review as well as consultations with relevant stakeholders and experts who work in the field of sustainability education and lifelong learning. The results of the research form a ‘framework for learning for environmental sustainability that can be applied in any learning context’. It includes working definitions of sustainability, and it identifies a set of sustainability competences that should be incorporated into education programmes in order to help learners to “develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote ways to think, plan and act with empathy, responsibility, and care for our planet and for public health”.

The report defines sustainability as “prioritising the needs of all life forms and of the planet by ensuring that human activity does not exceed planetary boundaries” and a sustainability competence as: “a sustainability competence empowers learners to embody sustainability values, and embrace complex systems, in order to take or request action that restores and maintains ecosystem health and enhances justice, generating visions for sustainable futures”.

GreenComp consists of four interrelated competence areas: ‘embodying sustainability values’, ‘embracing complexity in sustainability’, ‘envisioning sustainable futures’ and ‘acting for sustainability’ and each area includes three competences that are interlinked, interdependent and equally important.

Figure 1. GreenComp competences (taken from the upcoming SYSTEMA sustainability module 1).

As expected, systems thinking was identified and recognised by the report as one of the 12 core sustainability competences. To find out more about systems thinking and sustainability follow our page and take part in the courses prepared by the SYSTEMA consortium.