Wednesday 29 April 2020

Athanasia Karamerou - Educating communities about sustainable practices

Athanasia Karamerou - Sustainability trainer

Athanasia Karamerou (Sustainability 2010) works as a sustainability trainer for Hopeland, a social enterprise that works to improve family relationships. One element of this involves connecting people with nature and using sustainability projects to foster personal development.

Although her work ties into several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, it links most closely with Goal 4: to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. She told us more about how her work is helping to create a sustainable future.

How is your role linked to sustainability?

At Hopeland, we focus on building better relationships between parents and children. We also intervene in education for at-risk young people by developing activities and workshops that promote alternative education. Using methods such as art therapy and family consultation, we identify failures in relationships, enabling our advisors to intervene at various levels.

Over the last three years, we have focused on working with young people alongside European Erasmus+ projects, helping to reconnect them with nature and enhance their awareness of sustainability.

My role is project manager and facilitator, meaning that I design, deliver and manage all the European sustainability training projects. These projects help to empower young people and raise their awareness of sustainable practices, as well as equipping them with skills they can use to build more sustainable communities.

More than 120 young people have already taken part in Hopeland sustainability projects, and, for many, this has been a stepping stone into their future careers. Many of our students go on to become eco-farmers or eco-builders. Some have gone on to study sustainability further or have even used the experience as inspiration for setting up their own sustainability projects.

We are proud of the work we do, empowering and supporting young people to make a change for themselves and the people around them.

How did studying at Leeds help preparing you for where you are today?

My masters at Leeds prepared me for the work I do now. I learned about sustainability, and I now use this knowledge on a daily basis to show others how they can begin to live more sustainably.

“Sustainability is a way of living, it’s about how we live with others as well as the environment around us”

Athanasia Karamerou (Sustainability 2010)
Sustainability trainer, Hopeland

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is a way of living, it’s about how we live with others as well as the environment around us, and we should all be striving to do this in a harmonious way.

What sort of actions do you think individuals need to take in the next five years to create a sustainable future?

We need to work together with individuals and organizations to fight climate change. We need to generate less waste, be more climate friendly and resilient, but most importantly, we need to start actively planning and designing a better future for everyone. We will all need to work together, taking part in different projects and sharing ideas in order to accomplish this. Solutions that can have a huge impact are already out there, we just need to work together to make the changes that will allow them to be effective.

In 2019, UN updates outlined that although considerable progress on education access and participation has been made in recent years, refocused efforts will be needed to help ensure quality education for all. Athanasia’s work to educate young people on sustainable practices and foster a sense of responsibility in the ways they can contribute to a more sustainable future is vital in working towards this goal.