We are going through the most crucial decade for addressing global and key environmental issues, which requires the transition of the economy and society to a sustainable future. In this context, the EU Green Deal sets the European climate and environmental objectives, but also the necessary steps, policies and initiatives to achieve them. For the effective implementation of the measures, the active participation of the citizens in the decision-making is necessary.
In addition to raising awareness and the provision of reliable information on environmental issues, citizens must have capacity and confidence in order to participate in environmental governance processes.
In Greece, despite the high number of universities that focus on or have departments and specializations that relate to the environment, mainly in the formal and natural sciences, but also in law and and political sciences, the participation of citizens, especially young citizens, in environmental policy-making processes is limited. At the same time, while there are voluntary groups active in environmental protection, they focus on local actions, without being equally active in policy interventions. Therefore, the need for citizens’ empowerment for their active involvement in environmental governance is evident.
Seeking to meet this need, the implementation of the project “Learn-Participate-Protect the environment” has been launched under the Active citizens fund in Greece by iSea and its partner The Green Tank, as noted during the online launch event of the project on Monday 28 June 2021.
Empowering citizens, and especially young people, as well as volunteer groups, in order to strengthen their participation in public discussions is a primary objective of the project. The project will focus on three topics: the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution, as well as informing about the tools citizens can use to have a role in decision-making processes, concerning the pressing environmental issues.
During the launch event, the project and its objective were presented. In addition invited professors from various Universities as well as representatives of volunteer groups presented their views on the following topic: “Active participation of youth and civil society in the management and resolution of environmental issues.” Invited speakers included Professors Emmanuela Doussi (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), Georgios Karris (Ionian University), Ioanna Kostarella (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), Antonios Mazaris (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and Stergios Pardalis (University of Thessaly) as well as Spyros Zermalias (Green Team, Crete) and Katakalos Sakellaris (Galatista Youth, Thessaloniki), representing volunteer groups.
The project “Learn-Participate-Protect the environment” is being implemented under the Active citizens fund in Greece by iSea and its partner The Green Tank.
The Active citizens fund in Greece is supported through a €12m grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as part of the EEA Grants 2014 – 2021. The programme aims to develop the sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector in Greece, and to strengthen its role in promoting and safeguarding democratic procedures, active citizenship and human rights. The Fund Operator for the Active citizens fund in Greece is Bodossaki Foundation in consortium with SolidarityNow.
iSea is an Environmental Organization, founded in 2016 in Thessaloniki. Its main objective is the protection of aquatic ecosystems and the flora and fauna that live in them through research, awareness raising, citizen science and the promotion of conservation policies. iSea consists of an interdisciplinary team of experienced scientists with a background in marine biology and environmental management, policy and education.
The Green Tank is an independent think tank that formulates policy solutions for a sustainable future. It was founded in 2018 and the actions concern the three pillars of sustainable development: environment – economy – society.