PRESS RELEASE - Lifelong learning systems under the spotlight at major international conference

A joint ETF-UNESCO conference kicks off today and focuses on skills for green and inclusive societies in the digital era, and will feature an award for good practice in green skills development

Turin, 21 June 2021 — As of today and until 25 June, the ETF will be hosting a major online event in partnership with UNESCO and with the collaboration of the ILO, EBRD and UNICEF. Entitled "Building lifelong learning systems: skills for green and inclusive societies in the digital era", the conference aims to take stock of progress and look forward to next steps in making education and training fit for current and future challenges. It will showcase examples of good practice from around the world.

Representatives of more than 60 countries will come together to take stock of the impact of COVID-19 on education and training in particular in terms of access and inclusion through the new realities of online learning, and moving towards the goals of greener and more sustainable societies. The conference is an opportunity for joint reflection on national and international experience in moving education and training systems towards lifelong learning environments, and to confirm priorities for future cooperation.

“As we take stock of the impact of the pandemics and come to terms with the fragility of education and training systems, we have an opportunity to imagine stronger more resilient learning environments that ensure inclusion and contribute to a greener future. We come virtually to Turin, Italy, with the top experts in the world as well as practitioners from countries far and wide to ask how can we learn from each other, how can we build back better and create lifelong learning systems that equip all citizens with skilling opportunities where and when they need it’, said ETF Director, Cesare Onestini.

“We are living in unprecedented times. Digitisation, globalisation and environmental crisis are converging to transform every aspect of our lives, including how we learn and how we teach. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of that transformation, while amplifying existing inequalities. A sustainable, green and fair recovery hinges on political commitment to invest in quality education and skills, and expand opportunities for reskilling and upskilling throughout life. UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition and Futures of Education initiative take the need for transformation as their starting point, and this type of conference brings together the wide knowledge and expertise to advance this critical agenda”, said UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, Stefania Giannini.

High-level debates and in-depth sessions

After a short opening session, six thematic sessions will offer a deep dive into the key challenges, as we adjust educational and training systems to face this new reality. Over the last two days of the conference, a high-level event will bring together policymakers, experts, practitioners, employers, international organisations and representatives of civil society, to draw conclusions and reflect on the solutions to put in place.


European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, will join on Thursday 24 June to highlight the connection between the European Skills Agenda that he champions, supporting policy reforms in EU neighbourhood countries.  Italian Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi will also join the discussion in light of the Italian presidency of the G20, and will highlight the global dimension of this challenge and the need for coordinated action. The high-level discussion will also by attended by Cesare Onestini, Director, European Training Foundation; Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO; Branko Ružić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development; Tamar Kitiashvili, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Georgia.

Awards for the best Green Skills stories

On 25 June the ETF will also unveil the three winners of the ETF Green Skills Award, which will represent the best stories in skills development that empower the green transition. The finalists were selected from among applicants to an ETF call for good practice entitled ’Green transition: education, training and skills’. Finalists include stories from the following countries: 

  • Albania, Shipmentt - Greening of existing professions in the maritime sector; 
  • Azerbaijan, Inkoel - Public-private partnerships for enhancing the green skills in the energy industry; 
  • Belarus, Volma - Equipping trainers with up-to-date knowledge on green technologies; 
  • France (Belgium), Label Emmaus - Preparing vulnerable groups for a new green profession; 
  • India, PSS Central Institute of Vocational Education - Schools introducing green skills into their curricula; 
  • Italy, Atelier Riforma - Greening of the textile and fashion industry through new curricula; 
  • Palestine, Ghada Krayem - Vocational education centre offering green energy curricula for refugees in Gaza; 
  • The Netherlands (with the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Romania and Spain), European Platform Urban Greening - International public-private partnership for innovating curricula with green skills; 
  • Turkey, Selcuk Arslan, Ataturk Vocational and Technical High School - Raising awareness on the impact of online learning on the environment; 
  • Ukraine, Emau - Greening of existing professions in the building management sector; 
  • Ukraine, Professional Qualifications in Energy Efficiency Project - Skilling students on energy efficiency at all stages of education. 

The 11 finalists were selected from 134 applications from 39 countries.

A conference accessible to all

The whole event will be fully accessible via web streaming on the event’s website. It will also be streamed simultaneously on several social media platforms.


The European Training Foundation is the EU agency supporting the countries of the EU neighbourhood to reform their education, training and labour market systems. It works with policymakers and practitioners to support reform, promote evidence-based approaches, document change, provide analysis and stimulate debate to anticipate new skills needs.

More information

Press team

Daria Santucci, Press Officer, daria.santucci@etf.europa.eu, +39 366 9639638; Michela Zabaglia, Press Trainee, michela.zabaglia@etf.europa.eu

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