Conference „The Importance of Teaching Circular Economy and Sustainable Development“

On 16th October 2023, an international conference was held to disseminate the results of the „TREE“ project. The conference took place at the „BLC Multifunctional Business Center“ and was attended by vocational and secondary education teachers from various Lithuanian and foreign educational institutions.

The project coordinators and conference organisers „eMundus“ presented the aim, objectives, context of the  project and developed results: the seven-chapter methodological material book that provides a comprehensive overview of the circular economy (CE) and sustainability actions implemented in the „TREE“ partner countries, the challenges and opportunities in the European Union, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and its promotion, green skills, project-based and micro-learning methods that can be applied to teach young people about these topics.

Open educational resources platform online was presented to participants. The platform provides learning material – short interactive lessons about circular economy and sustainability, plastics, agrifood, wood, descriptions of practical activities and useful tips and suggestions for project work, as well as knowledge assessment questionnaires.

The project partners from Bulgaria, Estonia, the Netherlands and Lithuania  vocational training, non-formal education organizations and schools discussed the project’s results and challenges faced during implementation. Each partner from the vocational educational institutions presented implemented environmentally friendly activities that influenced the formation of  sustainable daily habits, engaged students and teachers and initiated discussions.

Keynote speaker – Ieva Budraitė, a representative and project manager from the Lithuanian Green Policy Institute, discussed how the circular economy functions and its impact on our daily lives. I. Budraitė highlighted overconsumption as a significant issue, symbolized by Earth Overshoot Day. This is the date when humanity’s demands begin to exceed the Earth’s ability to regenerate (or create) the necessary annual resources needed to sustain those demands. At the current consumption rate, we would need 175% of Earth’s capacity to sustain humanity’s needs sustainably. To address overconsumption, countries worldwide are striving to manage this issue by implementing various excess consumption prevention programs, recycling technologies, and methods, such as plastic bottle collecting and recycling, which is most effective in Lithuania compared to other European countries. As one of the most progressive methods to address excess consumption, I. Budraitė introduced the circular economy, the essence of which lies in decoupling economic growth from resource usage. Preventive measures in circular economy include: designing consumer and digital electronics products to reduce their environmental impact, introducing digital passports on the sustainability of each product, obliging manufacturers to give consumers the right to repair their electronics and developing specialties capable of developing and managing technological and process innovations that „close the loop“ of resource use.

Aivaras Pranarauskas – the representative of Lithuanian Public Employment Service introduced relevant  international project „Intercept“, which aims to reduce the unemployment of young people aged between 25 and 30 in Europe by training and employing them in companies with sustainable practices, while at the same time aiming to take into account the potential of the young people and teach them about sustainable living in their daily lives. The project involves nine organisations from six countries. According to the experience of the „Intercept“ project, the four best soft skills for green workplaces are: problem solving, motivation, skills to manage and maintain technology and communication.

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