Greece Archives - Earth Charter

Articles: The Earth Charter as a tool for education on all types of justice

Graphic ECNelly Kostoulas-Makrakis, Associate professor of Teaching Methodology and Education for Sustainable Development at the University of Crete, is not only an Earth Charter Friend, but also very active using the Earth Charter in her teachings. She challenges her students to engage in all types of sustainability justice, as described in the Earth Charter.

Through Prof. Kostaulas-Makrakis, we received two very interesting articles from her hand in which she explains very well why the EC is valuable in teachings, how it can be applied, and what a difference using the principles can make in people’s everyday life and the choices people make. The first article is titled ¨The Earth Charter through the Lenses of Sustainability Justice¨, and it was written for the Ninth International Conference in Open & Distance Learning, held in November 2017 in Athens, Greece.

The second paper is called ¨Integrating Sustainable Happiness in pre-Service Teacher Training Enabled through the Earth Charter Lenses¨.

Building on Mirian Vilela’s (2014:xxxiii) statement “… the transformation we all seek and that will make a just, sustainable, and peaceful world will require that we reconnect our inner selves with the larger community of life, through both a change of mind and a change of heart”; Prof. Kostoulas-Makrakis explains how merging the Head, the Heart, and the Hand responds to the need for adopting a holistic approach to teaching and learning to live together sustainably (Kostoulas-Makrakis, 2014). The head is about cognitive function and being logical, while the heart is about affective function, ethics, values, emotions, feelings, and the hands are about human agency, which is the disposition and ability to act as agents of change.

Especially for people working in the field of education, it is highly recommended to read these articles and use the information to help finding methods of implementing the principles of the Earth Charter for educational purposes.

A very special thank you to Nelly Kostoulas-Makrakis for sharing both articles.

Download here both articles.

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Meeting of UNESCO Chairs on Education for Sustainable Development in Paris

Between the 4th and 5th of October, UNESCO headquarters in Paris organized a meeting of UNESCO Chairs in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which was attended by Mirian Vilela, ECI Executive Director. Ms. Vilela is the coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on ESD with the Earth Charter (this chair is co-hosted by the University for Peace and the EC Center on Education for Sustainable Development). This was the first time such a meeting was organized to promote the exchange of experiences and knowledge among the ESD Chairs, explore ideas of how to forge collaboration, and discuss the process towards and post the end of the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD).

There are over 300 UNESCO Chairs around the world, which are focused on different areas of research and education practice. Among these, there are 18 UNESCO Chairs focused on Education for Sustainable Development, each with their own specific interest. Some research the linkages between ESD and Climate Change Education, others engage youth (such as the Young Masters Programme on Sustainable Development from Lund University in Sweden, an online programme for high school students), and still others specifically work on teacher training or in  ESD through distance education. The Earth Charter Chair is a collaborative project of interested institutions studying ways to bring the values and principles of sustainability, as articulated in the Earth Charter, into educational settings.

Other UNESCO Chairs on ESD come from Germany, Armenia, Sweden, Spain, Mexico, the Netherlands, Canada, and France, among others. Two of them are already working with the Earth Charter. The University of Crete just underwent a two-year process of developing a new Master programme on ESD and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which brings together seven other universities from Europe. This fully online programme, led by Vassilos Makarais, whose institution is also an ECI affiliate, has a course that is dedicated to the Earth Charter. It is expected to be launched in 2014. Also UNED in Spain, one of the biggest distance learning universities in Iberoamerica, has a Chair on Environment Education and ESD, and they have also being working with the Earth Charter in their courses and as part of their research.

Part of the agenda of this UNESCO chairs meeting was dedicated to addressing what still must happen in the next two years, before the end of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD). Some of the discussion topics were innovative projects that implement ESD in all dimensions of education (formal and non-formal spheres), how to assess them and capture good stories, and also how new global programme on ESD can be set up beyond 2014 as a follow-up to the Decade effort.

In November 2014, UNESCO and the Government of Japan will be organizing the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development – Learning Today for a Sustainable Future. This event will mark the end of the UNDESD and a number of projects to undertake assessment of this effort will be in place between 2013 and 2014. Given that the 2014 World Conference will take stock of the implementation of the UNDESD and celebrate the Decade’s achievements, from an Earth Charter Initiative perspective we would like to identify key examples, collect as many stories of good practices as possible from schools, universities, youth groups, businesses, and others that feature and make good use of the Earth Charter.

On the first day evening of the meeting, Mirian Vilela also took part in a panel that was open for other UNESCO staff and delegates on Higher Education for Sustainable Development: Rio+20 and beyond. This panel discussion was organized by the Swedish Permanent Delegation and UNESCO’s Education Sector and was opened by Mr Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education and Mr Hans-Ake Öström, Deputy Permanent Delegate, Permanent Delegation of Sweden. The four panellists addressed the topic of the role of Higher Education for Sustainable Development: Rio+20 and beyond, the UNDESD, and had the opportunity to briefly introduce the work of their UNESCO chair.

More information about UNESCO’s work on ESD.

To read more about ECI’s Greek affiliate, click here.

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Earth Charter youth network wants to expand in Europe!

An example of an European Earth Charter effort:

In March 2011 the Earth Charter International along with the Earth Charter Youth Team organizes a one-day online conference to inform the European youth organizations and individual activists on the Earth Charter and its usefulness as an educational instrument when building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.

So far some 100 organizations have joined the Earth Charter youth network from Europe and Central Asia. In addition, there are 16 official Earth Charter Youth and Student Groups (ECYG) in 16 European and Central Asian countries.

ECYGs are action-oriented societies, networks, or organizations that bring alive the vision of the Earth Charter in the local and/or national communities. The youth study the declaration, get inspired by it and then organize small action projects on sustainability.

Youth in Europe promote the Earth Charter by

  • organizing events where they present the declaration
  • translating the document
  • informing other organizations on it
  • training people on sustainable development and ways of living.

National Earth Charter Websites in Europe and CA:

Finland | Germany | Greece | Italy | Latvia Norway | Russia |

From the related articles below, one can see some examples of the European Earth Charter youth activism.

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The first EC Affiliate in Greece launches a new Greek Earth Charter Website

The UNESCO Chair ICT in Education for Sustainable Development, University of Crete Dr. Vassilios Makrakis and his team have become the first Earth Charter Affiliate in Greece. They have been working closely with the Earth Charter International in promoting the Earth Charter in the area of education and have created the national Earth Charter website to introduce the Earth Charter and the educational materials developed by the EC Center for Education for Sustainable Development, to Greek educators and students and a wider audience.  For more information please click here.

To achieve their goal  to integrate Earth Charter educational material into the national educational curricula, our Affiliate is developing  an advanced course in a Master Degree program (a joint European Master Degree on ICT in ESD financed by European Commission), as well as a course on the Earth Charter during the spring semester.

Their wonderful efforts to increase awareness in Greece have begun with the first official presentation of the Earth Charter during the workshops of the 7th Hellenic Conference on ‘Hellenic Pedagogical and Educational Research’ Panepistimioupoli Gallou, Rethymnon that took place on 19-21 of November 2010 in Crete.  The introduction of the Earth Charter and its principles was made by Dr. Nelly Kostoulas in her presentation “The Earth Charter as an Educational tool for the integration of sustainability in Education”.

Find the presentation in Greek here.

The Earth Charter International Secretariat welcomes Greek Earth Charter activists and hopes for the fruitful cooperation in education and many other areas.

Contact information:
c/o University of Crete
Department of Primary Education
74100 Rethymnon
Contact Person: Dr. Nelly Kostoulas
Tel: +30 8310-77614

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New Earth Charter Website in Greek!

We are glad to inform you that basic information on the Earth Charter is now available through a new Greek Earth Charter website! This is the result of an effort led by a group of young Greek professionals who are starting to work voluntarily to promote the Earth Charter in Greece.  According to the group, the process was simple enough after a close partner offered them free web hosting.

The team translated all the relevant information needed for the website, their objective is to offer an interactive platform where anyone can register and participate in discussions and post important news about sustainability and the Earth Charter. Nonetheless, the team members are constantly updating the website. ‘This will be the source of information about the Earth Charter Initiative for Greece’ said Demi Smoloktou, member of the group.

It is worth to mention that this website reflects the active involvement of youth groups involved in the Earth Charter Initiative which focuses on integrating all the relevant tiers; Universities, NGO’s, Companies and the governmental sector.

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Personal experience of an Earth Charter volunteer

Is your head full of ideas?
Write them down, communicate them to your network and make them real.

It starts with one.

The above sentence gives a short description of how I got involved with the Earth Charter and how I am proceeding in promoting sustainability and the principles of the Earth Charter. A short description of how everything started with me can be found online in the website of the Earth Charter International.

When I started working with the Earth Charter, there was no Earth Charter related activity in the country. I feel very grateful for having friends who are supporting my visions and beliefs. Now we have just started collaboration with the UNESCO Chairman and the University of Crete but still we are in the beginning.

With my friends we have translated the Earth Charter into Greek and we started with building a website. We all agreed that once there is website illustrating what the Earth Charter is, it is much easier to promote it to our networks. Elena, Irene, Steve, Teo, Apostolos are some of the contributors of our team.

For the website is necessary to buy a domain and name it, which isn’t very expensive at all. Of course there is a need for web-hosting and somebody to know how to start with the website. But I am convinced that somebody from your networks is willing to help you in that – like it has happened in my case.

In our website we are using WordPress as a platform since none of us is a real programmer. However, at this part I would like to thank Angelos and Nikos for their priceless contribution in building the website.

As it can be seen, it works as an interactive platform for all the members since they are able to post comments and other info at the website. It is a tool for communication and collaboration which I personally fully support!

Currently, we are working on promoting the Earth Charter in Universities, NGO’s and companies asking them to support our Youth Group to grow. Additionally, we are willing to be registered as an official NGO so we can participate actively in our community.

Some might think that this is impossible to succeed but I totally believe in it because there are so many other individuals waiting to be inspired and inspire others. For that reason again I suggest collaboration and communication. There are so many opportunities for our Youth Group to develop and get stronger in Greece. The most important is networking and to be connected. I feel so thankful to all people here in the secretariat for encouraging and supporting me with information, contacts and anything they can.

For Finland, where I study, I have the same ideas and plans as well. Promoting the Earth Charter in my university and give my friends the opportunity to know what is the content of the Earth Charter. In Finland it is even easier to succeed due to the active participation of students to come as interns at the Earth Charter International secretariat.

Sometimes, volunteering alone gets hard and discouraging but when I think that I have so many friends all over the world who are sharing the same visions with me, I just keep on trying to make it real! I feel so grateful for participating in the online courses that the Earth Charter is offering. In August, I was attending the Youth Leadership Sustainability and Ethics course and I have to admit it gave me new visions for the future. With the group of the course we are still working on preparing project proposals for our communities. Everything started when we had to discuss about our contribution and what we would like to do for our communities as youth leaders. Everybody explained their vision and then we decided that we will work for real with these proposals!

Most of the participants have joined this effort and we have already set an agenda for our meetings and our goals for the future. We are hoping as a youth group to organize an online Earth Charter Youth Global Conference in the future! In this conference, we will launch the proposals that are ready for materialization. Every member of the group is very motivated and committed and that makes me feel so lucky for collaborating with active young people from all over the world.

All young people that have visions like us, but who do not know how to start or they want to contribute in this effort,  are more than welcome to join our team. Feel free to contact me.
This is our interactive platform.

In addition to this, I am assisting and participating at the e-GLO 3 course where I met so many other people thirsty to learn and to contribute in transforming this world. Their ideas and motivation is a real source of energy for everybody! It feels that is a new era for the youth; to stand up and be active while working together with the older generations. They are wise but we are full of dreams, new ideas and energy, thus we have to collaborate.

“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.”
Pearl S. Buck

I hope young people all over the world will get inspired and join our efforts. This world belongs to all, so take the chance and be a part of it. Let us be the change!

All best,

Demi is studying in Finland and interning for the Earth Charter International secretariat for 6 months, Sep 2010 – Feb 2011.

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Demi from Greece sets a great example on how to promote the Earth Charter

Dimitra ‘Demi’ Smoloktou, 24-year-old Greek student, has shown an incredible initiative in promoting the Earth Charter in her home country and serves as an outstanding example for other young people that want to support the values and principle for a sustainable future.

By the time when Demi found out about the Earth Charter, Greece did not have any EC activities. This is why Demi decided to start actions herself!

“This is a wonderful example of what just one committed person can do! Truly, the great illustration of the EC+10 slogan: It starts with one!” says Marina Bakhnova, ECI Coordinator for Europe and Central Asia.

Read Demi’s letter and get inspired – we can all be the change agents, if we just want!

“I am a master’s degree student in corporate environmental management at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

How did I get to know about the Earth Charter? Everything started when I attended an info session by Lisa Jokivirta (a former EC intern and EC Youth Leadership Team) about internships. Lisa told us about the possibility to intern at the Earth Charter International’s secretariat.

Moreover, after some courses and lectures from our master’s curriculum, I became familiar with sustainability issues and sustainable development. I got very excited but I didn’t know from where to ask more information or which door to knock. Then it came to my mind ‘ohh Ms Jokivirta might help me!!’ So as you can imagine, she introduced the Earth charter and Marina Bakhnova (ECI Coordinator for Europe and Central Asia) to me after explaining to her my interests.

As I have said already to dear Marina, I feel so disappointed that in Greece the majority isn’t informed about the Earth Charter Initiative. And that is why I am willing to help; to increase the awareness on sustainable development!

To spread the word in Greece, I have created an email which I have sent to organizations and individuals. In this friendly letter I introduced myself, my study background and my interests towards the Earth Charter. With this letter my intention was to get people together to form a network that would promote the Earth Charter in Greece. Additionally, I have researched the Greek organizations that I thought would be interested in Earth Charter. My next plan is to contact all of them and convince them to endorse the declaration and join the Earth Charter Initiative.

I was able to find an NGO that is highly interested in all kinds of efforts and actions that would promote the Earth Charter in Greece and in the world. Specifically, they are interested in organizing workshops, promoting the Earth Charter Initiative through Internet, as well as networking with NGOs, universities and other institutions. They already support the Initiative a lot by forwarding information about the Earth Charter to other ecological NGOs and by including translated and updated information in their website.

I am so happy that finally we have plans with some friends on how to start more effective promotion in our home country. First we are going to build a national Earth Charter website; translate the text and buy the domain. Once we have the website in Greek it will be easier to promote Earth Charter and cooperate with other NGOs.

Secondly we are going to establish an Earth Charter Greece, an organization that will be part of the Earth Charter Initiative. From now on, there will be a legally acting NGO in Greece that is supporting and promoting the Earth Charter in our home country. Furthermore, we are definitely planning to cooperate with other Greek NGOS, universities and institutions, since we have a good network.

Greece is the country where democracy, freedom, philosophy and other sciences were born and it is a pity that nowadays the interest for development and sustainability isn’t really high. I wish from the bottom of my heart and I will do my best for this initiative to be successful. Let’s be the change.” 

Find Demi’s contact details from Earth Charter Youth / Student Activists’ wiki-profiles.

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