Report by Mary Pitiakoudi
Participating in the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) intensive summer course that was held in Amfissa’s ESD center in July 2014 was a great opportunity to meet for the first time a more holistic approach to education as a valuable tool for the continuous transformation of the island towards sustainability. Throughout the enlightening lectures and workshops we could finally distinguish the difference between environmental education (EE) and ESD and how they are both closely linked with the management of Protected Areas (PAs) and Man and Biosphere (MAB) PAs.
During the two weeks of intensive workshops as university participants and as MAB PAs representatives we learned the principles of Sustainable Development and Education for SD, environmental protection principles, ecological principles and function of natural ecosystems, how to plan and evaluate ESD activities, the qualities of an ESD educator etc. We also received various important new tools like dialogue mapping (a process on how to solve wicked issues through conversation groups), games for ESD activities, mapping biodiversity etc. We observed groundwater management prototypes, modelling and simulation of ecosystems and all that in one of the first ESD centers in Greece.
A big part of the course was dedicated to the sustainable management of PAs, the new Mediterranean and UNESCO-MAB strategies and collaborations and the study of real cases. During the two weeks we had to complete tasks, a ten page thesis in split groups and deliver reports with time pressure that simulated real life collaboration pressures. I presented the case of Samothraki candidacy and the need to create a sustainable education center and in a team of 4 persons with limited time we wrote and presented a paper that could be just the start for a real study in order to really create an ESD center that can serve the community’s attempts towards sustainability.
All the above workshops and lectures were combined with getting to know the hosting Protected Area of Parnassos, the cultural and environmental heritage of the area, the management body of the place in a celebrational and enjoyable environment that was consisted of many post-graduate students from 8 universities and representatives of 8 PAs from the Mediterranean region.
The Summer school ended with a graduation ceremony with all the participants, educators, officials from Unesco Venice Office, local politicians and deputy mayor of Amfissa, where the participants received their certificate and a big intercultural celebration that followed the successful completion of the two intense weeks.