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December 9, 2022
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The challenges of education for the circular economy, debated during the ‘’We invest in the future’’ roundtable

BCR and the ECOTECA association organized a roundtable on the topic of education for the circular economy. The guests, comprised of representatives from public institutions, the academic and business environment and nongovernmental organizations, analyzed the existing opportunities for training new generations of specialists who will be able to support Romania’s sustainable development.

‘’As a promoter of green policies, BCR has adopted the ESG business practices, through which we want to have an impact on the environmental, social and business governance fields, in the spirit of the principles of circular economy that are being shaped globally. We want the circular economy to be a reality not just within our business practices but also as a lifestyle at the societal level. The country’s sustainable development starts here and the job market is defined by the skills that are developed through education. As a dedicated supporter of education, BCR is committed to facilitating discussions among relevant opinion leaders, in order to recommend the needed actions for the integration of circular economy topic into the academic environment, so as to further help the future specialists who will lay the groundwork for sustainable development nationwide,’’ says Ioana Voinescu, ESG taskforce coordinator.

The discussion is the first meeting of ‘’We invest in the future,’’ a series of events organized by BCR and the ECOTECA association which aim to discuss the topic of sustainability, both as a responsibility of public enterprises and institutions and as consumers’ responsibility – a universal necessity for the worldwide states, considering the climate and socio-economic changes.

‘’It is remarkable that a major institution from the banking sector is initiating a discussion about the circular economy. The field that is being discussed is extremely important and impactful. All the parties involved, both public and private actors, must act together so that they can turn the transition to the circular economy into a reality. The topic of circular economy is of general interest and not limited to environmental specialists and education is the first step that requires attention and involvement,’’ said Raul Pop, Program Director at the ECOTECA association.

At European level, Romania finds itself under the directives of the European Ecological Pact, an EU commitment to achieving 0 carbon emissions by 2050. Part of the contribution to this objective will be brought by the transition from the linear economy to the circular economy, sustained by renewable energy sources and materials.

Using this framework as a starting point, the discussion on Education for the circular economy included an initial analysis of the local educational context and of the way in which it provides the knowledge necessary not just to the general public, for an environmentally conscious civic behavior but also to the future specialists who will later work in this field.

The correlation with the job market was a first necessity identified in the academic field. While in Romania there are university and post-university programs that are connected to environmental topics, the participants agreed that the transition to a circular economy requires new curricular approaches and specializations that will generate new experts and competent employees in this field. Representatives of the private sector signaled the growing need for specialized personnel and expressed their openness to collaborating with the university environment to provide the training and, most importantly, the necessary practical space for new specialists. Professors also need a training framework and information to include in their classroom activities. The need to offer a training framework for journalists was also mentioned from the educational perspective, so that they can bring information about the circular economy to the general public.

The pre-university environment also requires special attention. The participants discussed the need to introduce environmental education in schools, including the circular economy, in multiple forms: through civic education, an already existing subject, through the introduction of an optional subject or through a trans-curricular approach. Thus, everyone will get a basic understanding of the topic which will help them be environmentally responsible, most importantly from a civic standpoint. This type of education must reach each student, from both rural and urban areas.

To achieve these goals, the participants signaled the need for strategies that can be properly implemented, followed by concrete action plans that will be put into practice and monitored through an intersectoral approach.

The participants also highlighted the need to create a measurement standard for the impact that will be monitored at institutional, business and nongovernmental levels. The guests emphasized the need for collaboration and coordinated action, as well as the need to spread information about the circular economy through dedicated activities and as a main solution they expressed their interest in participating in future workshops and platforms.

Together with representatives from BCR and the ECOTECA association, representatives from the Ministry of Economy, The University of Bucharest, The Academy of Economic Studies, Mai Mult Verde, Edupedu, The Coalition for the Circular Economy, Concordia Employers’ Confederation, the PRODEE Coalition, The Romanian-German Chamber of Commerce, Romcarbon SA and Stratos also contributed to the discussion.

The ‘’We invest in the future’’ series of events organized by BCR will continue in November with a roundtable on the topic of green investments for start-ups from the perspective of the circular economy. The goal of the events is to outline directions of action for different activities, business practices and legal initiatives in order to bring real change to society. The ‘’We invest in the future’’ roundtables aim to provide a starting point for measures that can be taken by all decision-makers, so as to rethink the way in which society carries out its activities with the assurance of a good future for the next generations in mind.

 

 

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