What personal competencies are necessary for professionals to achieve sustainable development? A recent publication by CA colleagues from the Netherlands addresses this question in their paper "Competencies of Sustainability Professionals: An Empirical Study on Key Competencies for Sustainability". This freely available paper bridges the divergence in literature between theoretically and empirically driven research and offers novel insights on sustainability competencies for the fields of sustainability science, human resource management, and higher education. Colleagues who are interested in this topic may also follow the EU project TRACCskills, which seeks to identify "transformational, cross-cutting people skills for the SDGs".
The paper "Competencies of Sustainability Professionals: An Empirical Study on Key Competencies for Sustainability" (Venn, R., Perez, P., Vandenbussche, V., 2022) presents an empirical study on key competencies for sustainable development. Over a period of two years, the authors collected empirical data on competencies of senior sustainability professionals by using an action research approach. Data collection took place in Flanders, Blegium via an elaborate iterative action-reflection process including an interactive workshop, interviews, and an online survey. The analysis provides strong evidence for the existence of two complementary competency clusters, namely sustainability research competencies and sustainability intervention competencies. Together they enable the profound analysis and understanding of sustainability issues and ensure the ability to devise solutions and foster change towards sustainability. Furthermore, the authors shed a first light on the interaction of these competency clusters and their link with the practitioners’ topical knowledge and lived experience. This study bridges the divergence in literature between theoretically and empirically driven research and offers novel insights on sustainability competencies for the fields of sustainability science, human resource management, and higher education.
In the EU Erasmus+ project TRACCskills (Transformational, cross-cutting people skills for the SDGs) a practice-oriented compendium will be drafted and tested for use in designing and delivering high-quality, future-fit adult education. The intended users of the compendium are adult educators within the formal and non-formal sector who dedicate their work to ESD and are open to rethinking and renewing their teaching practice. The underlying assumption for this project is that many adult education courses focusing on sustainable development, climate, and related topics are heavily biased towards existing technical or administrative solutions, and often miss the huge potential of ‘people skills’ both to elicit creativity and innovation, and to create a groundswell of demand for appropriate change.