Adult education is closely connected to economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development as it can enhance employment prospects, improve health and help grow active citizens.

Sustainability in all areas is becoming a real challenge for Europe – from environmentally friendly consumption and transport to energy efficiency – European citizens need a lot of information on the one hand and innovative spaces on the other hand to develop new lifestyles, new projects, new approaches. Adult education can help provide the information, the debate spaces and the creativity.

Adult education is a driver in the interconnections of the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) and can contribute to the UN’s 2030 Agenda. There is a real need for education for sustainable development, and especially non-formal education has a very high impact.

Adult education is a driver in the interconnections of the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.

Adult education can make a huge contribution to both the Lisbon agenda for sustainable, smart and inclusive growth as well as Commissioner Juncker’s agenda. Adult education can boost jobs and growth and the digital single market. By supporting sustainability, adult education can contribute to the energy union and a forward looking climate change policy. Adult education can strengthen the single market, for example by providing the skills for the free movement of workers as well as shore up European values and trust.

Adult education and development

EAEA is working for the increased inclusion of adult education in development policies and strategies. Lifelong learning is a key for achieving social change and reducing poverty levels around the world. It has the capacity to positively affect many dimensions of poverty, peace, reconciliation as well as conflict prevention.

Adult education creates change through enhancing employment prospects, improving health levels and financial literacy of poor people as well as giving better chances of acquiring the tools needed to run their own lives. However, these benefits are often not understood outside of the educational discourse. There is a lack of recognition of the education sector when looking at development goals, in particular non-formal adult education.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations. The broad goals are interrelated though each has its own targets to achieve. The total number of targets is 169. The SDGs cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. These include poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.

Goal 4 for quality education calls for “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

Good practice

The “Umweltberatung” in Austria (eco-counseling) has developed the Energy Efficiency Driving License (EEDL). The EEDL is a tool for energy saving in private households, in small and middle-sized enterprises and in communities in order to meet the needs for climate protection and energy savings.

Energy saving in everyday life contributes to the reduction of energy costs, which is particularly important for people and households at the risk of poverty. A conscious use of energy and the development of energy-efficient lifestyles and behaviours is therefore also a contribution to the reduction of costs and helps combat poverty.

The conscious use of energy in the work context contributes to increasing competitiveness through cost reduction. Enterprise-supported resource-handling can also encourage employees to contribute to sustainability in their own private lives.