FOEN Conference "Education for a Circular Economy

16 September 2021


Every cycle counts!

In keeping with this motto, we were able to present our vision and mission on education for sustainable development and the circular economy yesterday at the "Education for a Circular Economy" conference of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

In order to come closer to a circular economy in Switzerland, many changes to our current economic system are needed. New business models will emerge, industries and professions will change and with them the skills that our skilled workers need. This conference invites those responsible for education at professional associations and those involved in vocational education and training to immerse themselves in the topic of the circular economy in the context of vocational education and training.

With these words, readers of the information flyer for the conference were immediately immersed in the topic. The circular economy and its integration into vocational education and training was the main topic of the conference. Those responsible for education and those involved in vocational education and training were invited to discuss the important role of (vocational) education and training in the transition to a circular economy. The conference was opened by Davita Steinemann (WERZ, OST) and later by Susanne Blank (Head of Division Economics and Innovation FOEN), who addressed the basic ideas and the importance of the circular economy, so that all participants had the same understanding of the circular economy. This was followed by further input presentations on "Sustainability in vocational training" (sanu durabilitas), on a success story regarding the circular economy in product design (Be Form We Do) and finally on the necessary competences and challenges of the circular economy (ecos).

After a short break, two workshop blocks followed: The first block dealt with the circular economy in education, in which we were also invited to present our contribution to the circular economy in education. Also represented in this block was Christian Gärtner from the STF Swiss Textile College, who spoke about their efforts and implementation of the circular economy in education (with Future Perfect). Further inputs were provided by éducation21 (on ESD), myclimate and the Bern University of Applied Sciences bfh. The second block focused on the circular economy in companies. Guest speakers from Environmental Action, Rytec AG, RethinkResource GmbH, Institut Nachhaltigkeit und Energie am Bau FHNW and Circular Economy Switzerland presented their respective projects and approaches. From new circular business models, which often require courage to abandon the "modus operandi", to the eminent importance of cooperation between existing actors - even with the competition, where the term "coopetition" came up, some promising approaches were presented.

Finally, the questions of which competences are necessary for the implementation of the circular economy and which measures and adjustments would have to be made so that learners can be optimally involved in the change towards a circular economy were dealt with in groups. When talking about competences, the interdisciplinary competences such as the 4C competences (cooperation, communication, critical and systemic thinking and creativity) were often mentioned. Furthermore, it was noted that it requires courage to think differently and to act accordingly despite adversities. With regard to the necessary measures and adjustments - as was agreed in the plenary - it requires the will and the initiative at all levels. From politics, the public sector, OdAs, educational institutions, companies, to individuals such as teachers and employers or employees and learners, in order to optimally integrate the circular economy in vocational education and training. The summary of competences and measures will be communicated by the FOEN in the coming days.

Fascinated by the many different exciting initiatives and projects around circular economy in education and in companies, we feel strengthened in our values and our mission to make education for sustainable development (with a focus on circular economy) accessible after yesterday's conference.

Updates follow...


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