HELMEPA’s three-year long campaign, which began in 2011 and ran across 12 cities-areas of Greece with the financial support of Lloyd’s Register Foundation* (the Foundation), has now been completed.
The two objectives of the Campaign were: (1) to inform primary and secondary education students about the marine environment, shipping, science and engineering and (2) to raise awareness among local stakeholders and throughout the society about the protection of the environment.
Each activity that was carried out over the three years, was placed under the auspices of the Municipalities of the cities of Volos, Serres, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Kavala, Komotini, Alexandroupolis, Rhodes, Thiva, Nafplio, Heraklion in Crete and Chalkis. A mobile environmental Exhibition operated in each of these 12 cities for a total of 364 days, during which time approximately 13, 500 students and 1, 000 teachers from 274 Primary and High Schools visited it, with transportation costs of travel to and from the Exhibit covered by the Campaign. HELMEPA’s scientific staff presented to students on the role the marine environment plays for life on Earth and the threats to it that result from reckless human activities. Also, they explained to students just what shipping means and its contribution to the global economy, how ships operate and are friendly towards the environment, as well as the application of science and engineering towards the protection of the marine environment.
90% of teachers rated the Exhibit as being ‘Very Good’, adding that its operation in the country’s regional areas contributes effectively to and complements the environmental education programs applied in schools.
In each city, HELMEPA organized a Workshop on “Marine Litter”, which was shown to be a major issue of concern for the more than 1, 200 representatives of public and private entities who participated in these. Local environmental stakeholders in each city had the opportunity to present their apprehensions about the extensive pollution of coasts, seas, terrestrial and even protected areas with solid waste, often referred to as “garbage”. Moreover, they also stressed the lack of reliable and comparable data that would help towards controlling the problem, while many of the speakers spoke fondly about environmental education in youth, volunteering and the support, where it exists, of the few volunteers.
The results of HELMEPA’s survey concerning the environmental awareness of the 13, 500 primary and secondary students who visited the Exhibition in all 12 cities proved interesting. Two out of three students believe that litter pollution of streets and beaches is the most serious environmental problem in their area, as well as the lack of parks and ‘green’ corners in their cities. As for the marine environment, students are aware to a large extent of its importance for life on Earth. In considering Port Authorities to be the main entity responsible for the protection of seas and coasts in Greece, the vast majority (93%) of students also recognize the personal responsibility οf each and every individual for a clean and healthy environment. The main sources of information on environmental issues are school, followed by TV and the internet.
Surprisingly, however, the majority of students were not aware of the importance of ships for global wellbeing, despite the fact that Greece is at the forefront of international shipping. Two out of three students were not familiar with the role of ships in the transportation of goods and 52% considered shipping to be the most polluting means of transport. Unknown to these youngsters was the internationally acknowledged (IMO, UNEP and others) fact that ships are responsible for less than 10% of the pollution of the Oceans brought about by all types of pollutants. An optimistic finding of the survey, on the other hand, is confirmation of the escalating awareness of children and youth living in regional Greece, about their local environment. Two out of three students report having participated in voluntary activities, such as tree-plantings and beach cleanups, while almost all of them recycle some materials. Older students (13-16 years old) state their intentions to help towards halting environmental degradation, where this exists, through the undertaking of initiatives in their homes, at school and in their neighborhoods.
HELMEPA sends a big thank you to all students and their teachers, Municipal Authorities and stakeholders who responded positively to the invitation to assist in the success of the Campaign; also, all media representatives for projecting the Campaign’s activities. In closing, the Association thanks Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which through its financial support offered, provides the opportunity to youth in our country to learn about the marine environment, shipping and sciences, enabling them to lay claim to a brighter future.
For further information
HELMEPA’s Environmental Awareness Section
Tel: 210 93.43.088, Fax: 210 93.53.847