Programa de educación, formación, juventud y deporte de la UE

Erasmus+ 30 anniversary logo

En portada: Apoyar el desarrollo sostenible en el ámbito de la educación

En consonancia con los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sosteniblede las Naciones Unidas para 2030, el programa Erasmus+ contribuye a una sociedad más justa, equitativa y ecológica. Garantizar que Europa pueda seguir creciendo y mejorando de manera viable es crucial para nuestro futuro. De ahí que Erasmus+ apoye la educación, la formación y el voluntariado en favor de una economía sostenible.

Con un número cada vez mayor de personas que adquieren experiencia y cualificaciones inestimables y encuentran puestos de trabajo gracias a Erasmus+, el crecimiento económico es más factible. Pero el crecimiento económico debe ser sostenible y no un ciclo de expansión y contracción. El ministro de Educación portugués y antiguo alumno de Erasmus+, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, considera que la educación es fundamental. En sus propias palabras: "El desarrollo sostenible solo puede existir con una educación de calidad que esté a disposición de todos. No solo se trata de enseñar sostenibilidad. El hecho de que fomentemos la excelencia en la educación y que pongamos una educación de calidad a disposición de todos, y especialmente de los grupos más desfavorecidos, es una manera de abordar eficazmente los problemas sociales y de ayudar a construir una economía sostenible".

Esta educación justa y accesible debe ir acompañada de la innovación y la creación de empleo para que la economía prospere de manera constante.

Sin embargo, la sostenibilidad tiene otros aspectos además del económico. También es esencial para proteger el futuro del planeta mediante la prevención del cambio climático. Erasmus+ financia proyectos innovadores que reducen el consumo y la producción y otros que promueven el uso de energía asequible y limpia como ESSENCE (Soluciones sostenibles europeas para entornos urbanos nuevos y existentes).

Además, como cada vez son más los europeos que se trasladan a las ciudades, los proyectos como el de "Formación ecológica urbana" son esenciales para nuestro futuro. El proyecto enseña agricultura urbana y anima a las personas que viven en zonas metropolitanas a utilizar su espacio para reducir su impacto medioambiental.

Enseñar a la próxima generación a cuidar del planeta y de la economía es fundamental para la prosperidad del continente. De ahí que Erasmus+ esté detrás de programas e intercambios de enseñanza cuyo objetivo es proteger nuestro futuro.

Contribuye a construir de forma colaborativa el futuro programa Erasmus+ posterior a 2020 en el punto de encuentro online de Erasmus+.

Read our spotlight stories from Erasmus+ participants

ESSENCE – The Netherlands

ESSENCE – The Netherlands

Higher Education project – The Netherlands, Spain and Finland, 2014-17

Erasmus+ – The Netherlands, Spain and Finland, 2014 - 2017

‘Sustainable Europe is not something that is just going to happen. It’s a goal that we have an obligation to follow. It requires finding creative solutions to problems and a strong will to implement them.’

Providing ‘creative solutions’ is exactly what students of an innovative, interdisciplinary course - run through Erasmus+ project ESSENCE - are taught to do. 

ESSENCE is an international, cross-sectorial project designed by 5 higher education institutions, to promote and support the development of sustainable cities. The project provides current and future professionals with practical skills and the best available knowledge necessary to design the transformation of modern European cities

In a cooperation with 3 municipalities: Turku in Finland, Alcoy in Spain and Utrecht in the Netherlands, students find viable solutions for real-life issues such as reducing CO2 emissions, improving transportation, social inclusion or the circular economy.

Around 600 people participated in project ESSENCE:  students, university teachers, researchers, experts, professionals from municipalities, SMEs and decision makers.

Project director from the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, Professor Ivo Opstelten admits that there are often challenges to tackling these tasks but with ‘common will and determination’ the project thrives.

As more people are living in cities, this project is increasingly important for Europe. To encourage sustainability, parts of the programme are open for use in other regions.

ENVKIDS – Greece

ENVKIDS – Greece

School Education – Czech Republic, Greece, France, Sweden, Norway, 2009-11

‘If we want to talk about sustainability and good environmental behaviour, then we need to focus on the next generation.’

Through computer games, the ENVKIDS project has inspired some of the future generation of Europe to be environmentally concerned global citizens. These complementary educational tools were developed by a pan-European team of researchers, tech experts and teachers. They are designed to ‘make pupils think for themselves’ about their impact on the environment.

My Home, My Town and My Planet, were tested in schools in 5 partner countries. While playing My House pupils make environmental house improvements; in My Town they design eco-towns complete with parks, public transport and cycle lanes; and in My Planet, pupils learn how much countries consume and the overall global impact.

Environmentally sustainable practices have to be about education,’ says software engineer, Hariklia Tsalapatas, who was behind the games’ creation. She believes that through education, children will become more responsible citizens in the future. The ENVKIDS project’s success demonstrates how effective immersive learning games are. It also shows the crucial role schools play in explaining that the planet’s wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility, and what we as individuals can do.

Nadine Norgeot-Véron – 52 – France

Nadine Norgeot-Véron – 52 – France

Higher education – United Kingdom, 1988

Vocational Education and Training Strategic Partnerships - Scotland and Norway, 2014-17

Studying abroad makes you accept risk-taking, overcome fears and be open to new opportunities. I wanted my students to have those experiences.’

As one of the first French Erasmus participants, Nadine did not know what to expect from her 6-month exchange. But ever since, her career has been devoted to encouraging other people to follow her footsteps and participate in Erasmus+.

After her experience in Leeds, Nadine veered away from a career in international business and commerce to become a teacher. For almost 22 years, she has been involved with Erasmus-funded projects: Vocational Education and Training, School Education and Adult Education.

Working for the Head Office of State Education in Normandy, Nadine coordinates a cross-sectorial, multinational strategic partnership called Winds and Tides, which creates training designs for students about marine renewables.

This project produces tools for teachers of Vocational Education and Training and Higher Education in France, Scotland and Norway so they can offer training opportunities, qualifications and skills for the future workforce in this fast-growing industry.

By providing quality education, fostering workers mobility and supporting the production of clean energy, Nadine says that the project contributes to sustainable development, and ‘helps people have a better life in a better, cleaner environment’.

So not only does Nadine encourage students to explore Europe, she is also leading a project that helps protect it, all through Erasmus+.

Ewa Smuk-Stratenwerth – 63 – Poland

Ewa Smuk-Stratenwerth – 63 – Poland

Adult Education – Poland, 2014-17

I believe in what Grundtvig claimed: the big part of true learning happens during practice – when you truly engage for your personal benefit and the benefits of others.’

Ewa, a dedicated environmentalist and social activist, has been running educational projects for adults from marginalised communities since 1995. She organises educational activities at her organic farm in a small village of Grzybow, which are inspired by Danish philosopher Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig’s folk high schools.

Socrates - Grundtvig funds (earlier name of Erasmus+ programme) contributed to adult courses focussed on sustainability; they cover craftsmanship and art, IT skills, health and ecology, and personal development. Ewa also invites school children to the farm for trips that raise awareness about the environment and ecology.

With funds from Erasmus+ and Danish Velux Foundation, a full-scale folk high school called Ecological Folk University was established in 2014. The university offers 104 days of classes and 14 months hands-on experience on 17 farms in Poland. This occurs as a 2-year course on organic farming and sustainable development.

The outcomes from the project: curriculum, guidelines, handbook and final publication including good practical examples, conclusions and recommendations – are distributed for free to promote sustainable development in Europe and to assure Grundtvig’s legacy continues.

Agata Babina – 35 – Latvia

Agata Babina – 35 – Latvia

European Voluntary Service – Spain, 2004

‘Life should be about sharing, volunteering, hosting and travelling.’

Eager to improve her Spanish, Agata came across a leaflet on European Voluntary Service (EVS) at her university in Latvia. Agata not only improved her language skills, she also met her future husband in an EVS preparatory meeting and ‘quickly became addicted to the project experience and wanted more.’

Agata's volunteering experience transformed her into an active citizen: 'You learn to think, to criticise and to empower others to change', in fact, after her EVS she was involved in setting up an environmental NGO Radi Vidi Pats (Make the Environment Yourself) with 9 other young volunteers, and soon became its leader. As Agata explains: 'none of us are scientists. The environment is a tool for our activities, while our NGO focuses on youth and is community-based.'

Radi Vidi Pats hosts volunteers from abroad, who learn how to think, to be critical, and empower others to change. They make videos, talk to local politicians, and run some media campaigns raising awareness of environmental issues. Many of Radi Vidi Pats participants have gone on to become youth workers or work in municipalities.

Agata encourages young people to play more of an active role in society. She is hopeful for the future of sustainability, at least in Europe: 'being Eco and green is trendy and has become fancy, this is how it should be. It is just normal to be friends with the environment - we depend on it anyway'.

Urban Green Train – Italy

Urban Green Train – Italy

Higher Education – Italy, Netherlands, France, Germany 2014-17

‘Urban agriculture fulfils important functions such as environmental sustainability, food security and social cohesion.’

Don’t have a garden but still want to get your hands dirty? You may be interested in an innovative, 150-hour training course that equips students and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills needed to bring urban agriculture to life. From flowers grown on a roof to potted plants on a balcony, urban agriculture can ‘boost environmental sustainability, food security and social cohesion’. 

The course shows students that urban agriculture is not ‘simply a hobby’. The lessons are ‘strongly practical, with a lot of group work to get students to develop their own ideas and be able to pitch them,’ explains project coordinator Dr Francesco Orsini from the University of Bologna in Italy. Some students have already been able to gain credits by completing modules, and are taking ‘the first step towards developing a full Masters course on this subject’.

Funded through Erasmus+, the pilot project has also built a European cluster that connects academic institutions, think tanks, entrepreneurs and civil society. Their first international meeting will take place this September.

Racines (Francesco Cury & Ugo Federico) – 33, 38 – Italy

Racines (Francesco Cury & Ugo Federico) – 33, 38 – Italy

Vocational Education and Training – Belgium, 2016-18

‘Working with Erasmus+ means tapping into the richness of young people. They are the ones who have to build the future that we want to achieve.’

Through promoting sustainable practices, celebrating local excellence and encouraging cross-border exchange, Belgian-Italian restaurant Racines is in many ways a perfect example of the European project. Established by Italian duo Francesco Cury and Ugo Federico, their Brussels-based restaurant serves organically grown, local produce and receive Vocational Education and Training trainees from Italy. Aged between 19 and 21, Francesco explains that the trainees are at the age ‘when you begin to realise what you are capable of and what opportunities are out there’. The trainees not only learn about restaurant life but also experience it through a sustainable approach. After their traineeship period, they leave with an ‘ethical conscience about the world’ and memories that will stay with them for years to come with.

The Racines team consists of 14 staff members and 4 trainees, who work against the trend of the ‘extremely wasteful’ food sector by using vegetables grown in a 30km radius and purchased through cooperatives. Moreover, by focusing on ethical and sustainable considerations, Racines actively reduces the carbon footprint by not using meat products. According to Francesco, this shows that for the Erasmus+ generation, 'sustainable living is normal and necessary'.

Proyecto Islas sostenibles (SusI) – España

Proyecto Islas sostenibles (SusI) – España

Educación Escolar – 6 países (España, Chipre, Francia, Portugal, Islandia e Italia), 2013-2015
«Gracias a este proyecto, los residentes han sido cada vez más conscientes del lugar en el que viven y se han sentido más orgullosos de las islas donde habitan».

Vivir en una isla puede hacer que una comunidad se sienta aislada y los problemas relacionados con la sostenibilidad se magnifican. El proyecto Susl o Islas sostenibles  tenía como objetivo contrarrestar estos problemas analizando la sociedad, la economía y el entorno en las islas a través de una mirada sostenible.

Guillermo Raúl Navarro Montesdeoca, coordinador del proyecto, vive en las Palmas de Gran Canaria en España y explicó que el proyecto ofrecía consejos prácticos a los isleños, como por ejemplo, cómo producir alimentos de calidad superior localmente y cómo proteger la fauna y floral autóctona.

Se plantaron árboles en las 6 islas participantes en el proyecto y se animó a los residentes a depender menos de importaciones de bajo valor y alto coste, así como a proteger la vida marina liberando tortugas en el mar. El proyecto también tenía como objetivo concienciar a los jóvenes sobre la importancia del medio ambiente, «también acompañamos a estudiantes a lugares sostenibles, como una central de energía geotérmica en Islanda, para hacerles reflexionar sobre su consumo de energía diario y las relaciones directas de este con la producción de alimentos, el transporte, la gestión de residuos y, en general, una forma de vida más sostenible».

Gracias al proyecto, los residentes de las distintas islas participantes han empezado a cooperar estrechamente. Como resultado, se han dado cuenta de que tienen los mismos problemas y han aprendido a buscar soluciones comunes. Guillermo lo explica así: «hubo una concienciación sobre el hecho de que todas las islas tienen cosas en común, lo que hizo que se pusieran a trabajar en equipo. Las personas se concienciaron como isleños y se sintieron orgullosos de ello».


Aykut Subaşi – 23 – Turkey

Aykut Subaşi – 23 – Turkey

Youth Exchange – Turkey, 2016

‘Partnership is vital because sustainability means that different areas function together in harmony.’

Ever wanted to live and work in a rural village? Soon you may be able to thanks to Aykut, who has developed a fully sustainable Youth Village model.

Before he discovered Erasmus+, Aykut was struggling to find a clear career direction but he ‘finally realised that [he] could fulfil [his] dreams’ and his self-confidence grew.

Inspired, he then developed the Youth Village model, which provides employment opportunities for young people in rural areas. These young people contribute both socially and culturally to the village and ‘the village offers young people living there all the opportunities they need’. 

It wasn’t long until Aykut received Erasmus+ funding to turn his model into reality. Over a few days in the Turkish highlands, he started constructing a Youth Village prototype with 42 young people from 8 countries.

Building on this experience, he has set up a rural development and social entrepreneurship association that provides consultation for institutions and offers free support to youth groups.

Aykut believes that the Youth Village could eventually serve as a blueprint for Europe and even the world, helping the international community in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

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