Polis – International Network for Environmental Education

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Polis: from 1996 to 2022

“Polis – International Network in Environmental Education” is a non-profit, non-governmental-organization registered under Greek law since 1996. Its activities aim at promoting research, training and action for Environmental Education, through networking, international collaboration, production and editing of educational material.

Polis’ activities are run by a team of volunteers from various professional sectors, and a network of Environmental Education professionals collaborating with Polis for specific actions and projects, joined by a permanent secretariat.

Polis has created and coordinated, between 1996 and 2001, an international network of educators coming from about 60 countries in all continents (teachers at various levels of the formal educational system, communication professionals, students in education sciences). This work led to the editing during these 7 years, of the magazine “Dialogues for Environmental Education”, distributed in all these 60 countries in English and in French, presenting articles, points of view and experiences of Environmental Education projects from around the world, as well as to the editing of books on Environmental Education addressed to educators.

Polis has participated in various research and training Environmental Education projects supported by the European Union:

– In 1997, Polis co-ordinated the Greek chapter of the project Eurosymbioses – Internet and Environmental Education in Europe, funded through the SOCRATES programme.

– In 1998, Polis participated in the European project “Sustainability Environmental Education in European Primary Schools” (SEEPS), supported by the COMENIUS programme.

– During 1999, Polis co-ordinated in Greece the activities of the URBANET project funded by the CONNECT programme.

– During 2000-2001, Polis was in charge of the pedagogical co-ordination in Greece of the SEAM project (Sistema di Educazione Ambientale Marina, or Marine Environmental Education System), funded through the ECOS-OUVERTURE programme.

In addition, Polis has organized and participated in Environmental Education projects supported by the Greek Youth Secretariat of the Ministry of Education (1997) and by the Greek Ministry of Environment (2003-2004).

Between 2005 and 2010, Polis participated in the project of the “Charter of Human Responsibilities”, an international process for debate and sensibilization on the value of responsibility, initiated and financed by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation (a Swiss Foundation), in collaboration with a network of non-governmental organisations from 16 countries, in every continent. Polis co-ordinated the actions for the promotion of the Charter in Southern Europe, participating and organising awareness raising events focused on “our responsibility towards the environment”, addressed to the youth and to the general public. In this framework, Polis organised in 2007-2008 a series of travelling art exhibitions in Greece and in France on the theme: “environment: common good – common responsibility”, associated to parallel events (theatrical representations, art workshops for children, a congress on climate change). Between 2008 and 2010, Polis organised a project for the creation of educational material for children, in collaboration with artists and educators from Greece, Georgia and Algeria and illustrated by children and youth from various countries, a project that led to the editing of two books, in two languages, accompanied by the organisation of parallel events (art exhibitions, theatrical representations). During 2009-2010, Polis participated in the preparatory process of the International Youth Conference for the Environment, an initiative of the Brazilian Education and Environment Ministers, that gathered together 350 young delegates from 47 countries in Brasilia, in June 2010.

Since 2010, Polis has been facilitating the thematic network on Environmental Education of the “Ethics and Responsibilities Forum”, an international project made up of individuals, professional and thematic networks, and organizations aiming to introduce the concept of Responsibility into international debate. The project was initiated and financed for the most part by the Swiss Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation. Within this framework, Polis set up a network of environmental educators, in about ten countries, in all the continents, initiating a debate on the current aims, methods and trends of Environmental Education and Sustainability Education. This work led to the drafting of a first working paper focused on the debate around the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference in June 2012, and is currently continuing with a research on Environmental Education and Sustainability Education exemplary experiences from around the world. In parallel, during 2011-2012, Polis participated in the preparatory process of the European Youth Conference “Let’s take care of the Planet”, a project coordinated by “Monde Pluriel” in France, that gathered 80 young people from 14 European countries, at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels, in May 2012.

Polis has participated as a partner, twice, in 2013 and 2015, to the “Youth Meeting for the ‘Printemps de Bourges’, a project on cultural exchanges around the ‘Bourges musical festival’, in France (in collaboration with the French organisation CEMEA-Centre), supported by the EU, under the “Youth in Action” program. This project is renewed in 2017, with the participation of a youth delegation from Greece, organised by Polis, in the Bourges festival, in collaboration with partners from 5 European countries.

During 2013, Polis participated in the meeting of European Environmental Education stakeholders, supported under the “Youth in Action” and coordinated by the French organisation GRAINE-Rhône Alpes, that led to the creation of a permanent European network.

Between 2016 and 2019, Polis participated as a partner in the European project “‘ETRES’ – European Educational & Training Resources for Environment & Sustainability”, supported by the European Union under the Erasmus+ program.This was a 3  years project starting in September 2016, with partners from 4 European, Mediterranean countries, coordinated by the French agronomic insitute Supagro from Montpellier. It addressed educators that work for Education for Environment and Sustainable development. The project was aiming to investigate the needs of educators accompanying citizens groups involved in action for ecological transition, as well to provide support for action, through the development of educational material for environmental educators’ training. The material developed by the project is available in five languages, here, for use by educators from all over the world, as a tool for teaching and training.

Since 2016 and till now, Polis has been involved, as a founding member, in the work of the international network ‘Alliance for responsible and sustainable societies’ (www.alliance-respons.net), gathering partner organizations in all continents. Polis has been participating in the movement and networks that led to the creation of this Alliance, since 2001, supported by the French ‘Foundation Fondation Charles-Leopold Mayer’. In this context, in collaboration with the environmental NGO Response Trust in New Zealand, Polis has been developping educational ressources for teachers and students around the notion of responsibility related to environment and has been editing the Alliance’s Newsletter ‘Alliance for responsibility in an interdependent world’ (2017-2020).

Since May 2022, Polis has been involved in the ‘Green Reporters’ project, supported by the EU Erasmus+ program (‘Small-scale partnerships in youth’ Action, 2021 Call), in partnership with the Italian organization “Peripli – Culture e Società Euromediterranee”. The project is addressed to young people, students in fields related to the environmental and social sciences, young workers or unemployed people, aged 18 to 30, based in Italy and in Greece. The project aims to train young participants so that they develop skills and competencies in environmental communication and journalism, while becoming aware of crucial environmental issues of our times and policy responses (for more information read on here).

Polis is a member of the FICEMEA federation (Fédération Internationale des Centres d’Entraînement dans les Méthodes d’Education Active), an organization in operational terms with the UNESCO and the Council of Europe.