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SkillsEco: Cologne on the way to becoming a sustainable city

Sustainability skills for a greener future.

The logo of the RheinEnergie Stiftung Jugend, Beruf, Wissenschaft
View from under a tree through which the sun shines over a large meadow in a park. Cologne Cathedral in the distance.

At a time when climate change is posing major challenges to our cities and communities, Prof Dr Martina Fuchs and Prof Dr Matthias Pilz, Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Cologne, together with Prof Dr Claudia Ziller, Cologne University of Applied Sciences, have launched the innovative SkillsEco project. The project is funded by the RheinEnergieStiftung Jugend/Beruf, Wissenschaft. The aim of the project is to analyze, to develop and promote sustainability skills in order to make Cologne a greener and more sustainable city.

"Businesses in urban areas have a crucial role to play in achieving climate targets and conserving resources. But they need employees with green skills to achieve the United Nations' sustainability goals," says Martina Fuchs, Chair of Economic and Social Geography at the WiSo Faculty. “These skills include not only technical, but also social and personal skills in the field of environmental sustainability,” says Matthias Pilz, Chair of Business Education and International Vocational Education Research at the WiSo Faculty

The SkillsEco project shows how universities and other vocational education institutions, together with business and further actors, can take responsibility for their home region and make a positive contribution to tackling the global challenges of the 21st century. The SkillsEco project focuses on three main areas:

Micro level: Prof Dr Matthias Pilz is leading the research into the teaching of "green skills" at learning locations in companies and educational institutions.

Meso-level: Under the supervision of Prof Dr Martina Fuchs, regional stakeholder networks and the local "green skills ecosystem" are being studied.

Technical specification level: Prof. Dr. Claudia Ziller is focusing on the implementation of sustainability concepts in the field of building technology and use in order to develop Cologne into a "Green City".

The research project includes a variety of measures, including interviews with local stakeholders, workshops, and scientific publications. The results will not only contribute to Cologne's transformation into a sustainable city but will also serve as a model for other regions.

The project will start on 1 April 2024 and employs two research assistants for two years (Grant number: W-23-2-001).

Prof. Dr. Martina Fuchs is professor and managing director at the Department of Economic and Social Geography at the University of Cologne and focuses on the global-local interaction of multinational companies and global value chains in different regions of the world. Her research focus is on spatial aspects of digitalisation in production and trade as well as social and environmental sustainability.

Prof. Dr. Matthias Pilz is dedicated to international comparative vocational education research and transition research between education and employment systems, both in research and teaching. The Chair of Vocational Education and Training and International Vocational Education and Training Research is involved in a wide range of research projects.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Ziller is head of the Master of Science "Green Building Engineering" program at TH Köln and is involved in research in the field of innovative building technology concepts for buildings using various simulation methods. One focus of her research projects is in the area of climate-positive, healthy, integral and circular buildings, including socio-cultural aspects.