by Katerina Batzaki and Eirini Glyki

A Symposium on Consumer Kids and Sustainable Childhood bears a new network of sustainability for the neighbourhoods of the wider region of the Greek capital.

How can we safeguard our children’s happiness? How can we raise them as citizens and not as consumers? This was the main topic of the Symposium on Sustainable Childhood, which took place on Sunday 24 February 2013 in Athens, Greece organised by Worldwatch Institute Europe and Member of the European Parliament for the European Greens, Nikos Chrysogelos, with the support of Velux foundation.

Pictures: Alexia Tsouni

Felix Finkbeiner, the boy who, when he was 9 years old, founded the organisation ‘Plant for the Planet’ initiated the symposium via a video message. He spoke of sustainability quoting the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Confederacy which states that with every decision we take, we must consider its impact on the next seven generations.

Worldwatch Institute Europe's Research Coordinator, Eirini Glyki, presented highligts from the latest publication of the Institute, From Consumer Kids to Sustainable Childhood, and Natassa Papaprokopiou, Head of the Creative Learning Association for Children, discussed the issues modern Greek families face as well as initiatives for interactive learning in Athenian schools.

Following the presentations, queries and experiences from teachers, parents and children who were present at the event led the discussion a step further on how sustainable childhood could become practice within Athenian neighborhoods.

In this mood, the afternoon adult workshops revolved around Greek culture and mentality and how can cultural change be achieved in order to reach a more sustainable society. The absence of synergy was identified as one of the barriers in this procedure, and everyone agreed that cooperation among the different Athenian neigbourhoods is essential in order for effective action to take place. Thus, the long interactive workshop came to an end with the initiation of the ‘Sustainable neighborhoods' network. The goal of this ambitious project is to start-up a cultural change movement and encourage cooperation between diverse Athenian neighborhoods.

This procedure will start from the bottom up, by involving active citizens within neighborhoods and tracking and supporting good practices as the basis to a sound sustainable development in Athens. The ambitious goal is to expand, involving other Greek cities as well as embracing state government actors.

The symposium finished on a positive note, with the vision of a different society created by the active participation and commitment of all the people involved, and reenforced by the vibrations of positive energy coming from the interactive art workshop Sofia Polychronopoulou created for the young participants.

Pictures: Alexia Tsouni

More pictures of the event can be found on our Facebook page!