Within this area of expertise, the REC supports the dissemination of the main outcomes of the “Environment for Europe” process and the implementation of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development (SESD).
Within this political framework, and based on the results achieved during the implementation of the REC's Green Pack educational kit, the REC aims to strengthen sub-regional cooperation and encourage a multi-stakeholder approach to environmental education and education for sustainable development. The REC is also committed to supporting the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to ensuring transformation to sustainable economies and sustainable communities. Fast action at country level towards SDG implementation is imperative in order to achieve meaningful results by 2030.
The four main educational objectives are to:
- develop a political framework to disperse the seeds of the “Environment for Europe” process and implement the UNECE SESD at the sub-regional and national levels;
- create specific educational tools promoting sustainable development values through a holistic and interdisciplinary approach;
- strengthen teacher education through training, the sharing of experience and cooperation; and
- raise public awareness by developing tools and campaigns to increase public knowledge and awareness of sustainable development issues.
The four main objectives related to SDG implementation are to:
- introduce the SDGs in an appropriate and understandable manner to the various stakeholders;
- build the capacities of all national, regional and local decision makers;
- trigger regional and national SDG implementation activities; and
- raise public awareness about SDGs using a variety of tailor-made activities.
The REC's most successful educational product is the Green Pack, a multimedia environmental education kit, intended primarily for teaching children aged between 11 and 14. It includes a 200-page teachers’ guide, an interactive CD-ROM for students, a video-film collection, a dilemma game and various other educational aids. Each Green Pack is adapted to a particular country, with national and regional information supplementing the core material.
The Green Pack has been produced in 14 national and regional editions, each one adapted substantively, in collaboration with national education and environmental ministries, to the particular country’s environmental context and translated into the relevant language or languages. Distribution is carried out in cooperation with national education ministries and targeted at school teachers via training workshops. National versions have appeared in Polish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Czech, Slovakian, Russian, Albanian, Turkish, Macedonian, Azerbaijani, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, and a general European version has been produced in English.
The REC also produces Green Pack Junior, a version of the Green Pack specifically geared towards the educational needs of children aged between seven and 10 and for schools with less technical equipment and fewer multimedia facilities. The materials are divided into 10 topics that look at the interaction between environment, society and economic development. These topics are used to demonstrate how human beings are connected to, and how we affect, the environment in which we live and, most importantly, what this means for society. Each topic comprises a structured lesson plan and the supporting materials required to plan and deliver a class on the subject. The lesson plans create an interactive way of learning by using discussions, brainstorming, role playing, and outdoor activities. Each lesson plan provides the teacher with background information on the topic, teaching objectives, a methodology, the required materials, suggested timing, and possible teaching locations. At the end of each lesson plan teachers will also find supporting factsheets and other tools such as colouring pages, tests and even fairytales. The topics present the key issues facing the world today: pupils are encouraged to think critically about them and to, ultimately, to become involved citizens.
The REC has also completed the project “Environmental Toolkit for Citizens (Citizens’ Pack)”, the aim of which is to increase the environmental awareness of European citizens. The project comprised the development of the concept, structure and content of an environmental toolkit for citizens. A toolkit prototype was produced in the English language and a strategy for dissemination was developed. The REC is currently looking for funding for the production, further dissemination and upgrading of the Citizens’ Pack.
In addition to these projects, the REC is also in the process of developing projects related to climate change education at municipal level — “Think Globally Act Locally: Educating Municipalities on the Practical Measures They Can Take at Community Level for Carbon Reductions” — and the development of a set of educational materials on climate change “Changing with the Climate.
Related to the implementation SDGs, the REC provides policy advice; supports the development of needs assessments; and develops, organises and delivers tailored regional courses, seminars and certificate programmes in accordance with its philosophy and objectives. It also provides consultancy to various sustainable development processes.