HELMEPA-LRF “Marine Environment and Science Awareness Campaign” (2011-2014)
  Aim

• Awareness raising of primary and secondary education students on issues relating to the marine environment,
   shipping, science and engineering;

• Sensitization of local stakeholders and societies on the need to protect the environment.

Cities-Areas

Volos, Serres, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Kavala, Komotini, Alexandroupoli, Rhodes, Thiva, Naflpio, Heraklion in Crete and Chalkis.
In each city-area the campaign was placed under the auspices of the local Municipality and was carried out during 2-3 weeks.

Environmental Exhibition

In total, the Exhibition operated for 364 days in the 12 cities and was visited by 13,500 schoolchildren and 1,000 teachers from 274 Elementary Schools and High Schools. HELMEPA’s staff presented to the children the role of the marine environment for life on Earth and the threats it faces from reckless human activities. Also, they talked to them about shipping and its contribution to the global economy, how ships operate and the means they possess to protect the environment, as well as the application of science and engineering.

It is satisfying to note that 90% of teachers rated the exhibition as “Very Good” adding that its operation in regional Greece complements the environmental education programs carried out at school.

Workshop on Marine Litter

In each city, HELMEPA organized a Workshop on “Marine Litter”. More than 1,200 representatives of public and private entities who participated in these confirmed that marine litter is a major issue of concern for all. Local environmental stakeholders in each city had the opportunity to present their apprehensions about the extensive pollution of coasts, seas 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 offered to the few volunteers.

Survey

The results of HELMEPA’s survey among the 13,500 schoolchildren who visited the Exhibition are interesting. It seems that schoolchildren acknowledge to a significant extent the great importance of the marine environment for all life forms on Earth. Two out of three children believe that litter pollution of streets and beaches is the most serious environmental problem in their area and are disappointed by the lack of parks and ‘green’ corners in their cities. 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 the quality of 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.