SymATA: One year of participatory actions, networking and empowerment of regional Civil Society Organizations for the sustainable revitalization of rural areas

The Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA) and Τhe Green Tank presented, during an online Press Conference, the progress of the project “Alliance for Sustainable Local Development (SymATA)”. The project was implemented the previous year under the Active citizens fund programme and it is now reaching its final stages.

SymATA was launched in January 2022, with the aim of revitalizing rural areas through their own communities, through networking and empowering regional Civil Society Organizations. Today, the “Members Network” of SymATA has twelve (12) organizations which actively show the way towards a real, sustainable development of their local areas. An innovative element of SymATA is also the fact that “Members’ Network” is offered a comprehensive framework of support by the “Initiative Team” consisting of six (6) national bodies.

The first step of the project was the mapping of the actions and needs of the member organizations of SymATA, which identified the need for their networking and empowerment both in terms of knowledge and organizational development.

In the following months, a programme was designed and implemented on topics that the members themselves identified through the mapping process. The programme included intensive online, interactive seminars of 36 hours in total on Fundraising, Sustainable Local Development and Advocacy. At the same time, 30 hours of online consultancy sessions on strategic planning, human resources and volunteering, communication and special legal issues, as well as mentoring sessions were held.

This series of actions ended with a two-day in-person meeting of the eighteen (18) members of SymATA, where the foundations were laid for the creation of the roadmap of SymATA and a common identity through participatory workshops. The two (2) topics that were highlighted during these workshops were environmental protection and sustainable alternative tourism, which will be the main priorities of this newly created Network.

Miranda Vatikioti, project manager at MedINA, stated among others: “Sustainable development through the empowerment of local communities is a bet to win. Achieving our goals means only one thing: that we are not stopping – in fact, we are just starting!”

“To achieve the balance between environmental protection and local development sought by Civil Society Organizations from different corners of our country will require coordinated and collective advocacy actions, for which we will continue to work together,” said Ioli Christopoulou, Co-Founder and Policy Director of The Green Tank, a partner in the project.

During the Press Conference, Nikos Kyriakidis, Research Consultant, Innovation & Social Impact Hub, American Farm School, argued: “My first thought about SymATA was… one more network… One year later, my view is that great things and creative people are waiting for us here!”

The Members Network was represented by represented by Alexandros Panagiotopoulos, Messolonghi By Locals, and Iro Benessaya, Active Citizens of Aegina. They shared enthusiastically their experience, saying that: “The alliance is the answer to the question of how we can create the change we dream of. The SymATA project has empowered us by showing us the possible paths, tools and the knowledge necessary to achieve our goals.”

Lastly, Beatrice Giannoglou, Programme Officer at the Active citizens fund, gave a short welcome address and stressed: “The SymATA project is a prime example of the results that can be achieved when there is networking but also collective and participatory action among Civil Society actors”.

The project “Alliance for Sustainable Local Development (SymATA)” was implemented under the Active citizens fund in Greece by MedINA and its partner The Green Tank.

More information is available here.

The Active citizens fund in Greece is supported through a € 13.5 m 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. More information: