By Evita Paraskevopoulou, Hellenic Platform for Development
The annual meeting of the Make Europe Sustainable for All (MESA) project took place 22-24 October 2019 in Greece.
The Hellenic Platform for Development represents Greece in this three-year project, which combines the experience of 25 partners from international and European networks, representing over 2,500 civil society organizations.
On the morning of Tuesday, 22 October, the partners gathered at the Environmental Education Center, nicknamed “The Earth Center.” We kicked off the meeting by planting seasonal vegetables and flowers as a welcome event.
In the afternoon, we organized a “Workshop on Sustainable Development Goals and Civil Society”. First, project partners from 3 countries (Austria, Greece, and Lithuania) presented successful local actions to build alliances of civil society organizations, practice advocacy, raise awareness and encourage citizen participation.
Then the project partners and the member organizations of the Hellenic Platform for Development jointly exchanged ideas on good practices in a fun, ‘speed dating’ format!
This was followed by a panel discussion, “Promoting Sustainable Development Goals as a Political Priority at European, National & Local Level,” with policy makers at the national and European level. Konstantinos Machairas, chair of the Board of the Hellenic Platform for Development and Director of the Organization Earth, facilitated the discussion. The panel included:
- Mr. Konstantinos Aravosis – General Secretary for the Environment and Water of the Ministry of Environment and Energy
- Ms. Eleni Nikolaidou – Director of YDAS-3 Directorate of Geographical Policy & Strategic Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Mr. Elias Savvakis – General Secretary of the Municipality of Agios Dimitrios
- Mr. Pavlos Georgiadis – Member of the Board of Directors of the Alexandroupolis Municipal Community and representative of the Independent Community of Faros Alexandroupolis
- Ms. Patrizia Heidegger – Director of International Policies on Sustainability at the European Environmental Bureau
On Wednesday, 23 October, the partners had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the “Fridays for Future” movement in Athens and Greenpeace Greece to discuss sustainable development and climate change. In addition, our guests got to take advantage of the Earth Center’s collective kitchen to prepare their own salads.
On Thursday morning, 24 October, we visited the Agora of Ancient Athens followed by a discussion, “Democracy in Today’s Europe and what the Future Will Bring”. The discussion was moderated by Marie-Luise Abshagen, Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung.
An open discussion on “Sustainable Development Goals & Common Agricultural Policy” took place in Tzafferi 16 in the afternoon. The event was part of MESA’s pan-European awareness campaign #GoodFood4All, implemented in 2018-19. The purpose of the discussion was to find solutions to how the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU can help to achieve the SDGs so that the food we produce ensures the well-being of farmers, the good health of consumers, protection of the planet and the preservation of Earth’s biodiversity. The speakers were:
- Mr. Kokkalis – Greek Member of European Parliament – Member of ENVI (Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) – Substitute Member of AGRI (Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development)
- Ms Minotou – Former President & Co-founder at IFOAM AgriBioMediterraneo (ABM), Former Consultant for Organic Agriculture and Sustainability at Piraeus Green BANKING, Project Leader at Zakynthos Program – WWF Greece, Former General Director at DIO Certification and Inspection Organization of Organic Products, Manager at Minotos Organic Farm
- Mr. Stamatis – CEO at Stevia Hellas Cooperative
- Mr. Figeczky – Head of Global Policy at IFOAM – Organics International