Sustainability means different things to different groups of people. Often the terms “sustainability” and “sustainable development” are used in the same sense, although they mean different things.

But, can we find a common definition for “sustainability”?

The concept is complex and ambiguous. In the course of the project, we will approach different dimensions. However, our starting point is the broad consensus that sustainability is relevant to everyone in work and everyday life and that sustainability issues need to be integrated into all areas of education.

As an EU partnership, we refer to the EU Reference Framework for Green Competences (Green Comp).

It has been developed as part of the European Green Deal implementation measures to promote learning about environmental sustainability. GreenComp identifies a set of sustainability competences to be incorporated into educational programmes to help learners develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote thinking, planning and acting with empathy, responsibility and care for our planet and public health.

The “GreenComp” is based on the following definition of “sustainability”:

“Sustainability means prioritising the needs of all life forms and of the planet by ensuring that human activity does not exceed planetary boundaries. … 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.”.

The GreenComp Framework is designed as a non-binding reference for learning programmes that promote sustainability competences.

The document is available for download here, in many European languages.