Charting Future Paths of Sustainability

Highlights from the P4F Concluding Meeting in Crete

23.01.2024 Highlights from the P4F Concluding Meeting in Crete

The picturesque landscapes of Crete, Greece, played host to the UNITWIN Network's recent P4F concluding meeting from November 22 to 24, 2023. This pivotal gathering brought together a diverse assembly of dedicated individuals committed to shaping the future of sustainability and education. Among the esteemed participants were Alicia Jimenez, Alexander Siegmund, Charles Hopkins, Daniel Fischer, Deepika Joon, Gerd Michelsen,John Bhurekeni, Katrin Kohl, Kanela Kostoula Makrakis, Lasse Grimmer, Mirian Vilela, Svenja Loos,  Vassilios Makrakis, and youth representatives joining online Mariia Statkova, Loos, and  Uno Tuvshinbayar, who are Leuphana student researchers. We were also honored to have a former Politics4Future student, Maria Sifaki, join as a guest. Eleni Vasilaki, Vice President and professor of cognitive psychology in education, along with Michael Kleisarchakis, made valuable contributions, and their dedicated support greatly enriched the meeting.

The heart of our discussions revolved around reflecting on the pilot implementation of the P4F course. We engaged in robust conversations to strategize the expansion of the P4F curriculum, contemplating the lessons learned and envisioning the future path of our network. Deliberations extended to the overarching vision, activities, and communication strategies within the UNiESD&ST network, building upon insightful conversations initiated in May 2023.

Katrin Kohl initiated the meeting's activities with an engaging icebreaker. Participants shared their favorite cartoon characters and the reasons behind their choices. This lighthearted activity not only brought smiles but also set the tone for collaborative discussions.

Our agenda included a thoughtful reflection on the P4F journey. Discussions covered what worked well, areas that posed challenges, and the invaluable perspectives of our youth advisors. Philipp Menna presented his bachelor thesis, adding an academic dimension to our reflections.The discourse extended to encompass lessons learned and strategies for progression and scaling up. Amidst these discussions, we collectively decided to incorporate an additional module into the P4F curriculum, aiming to delve deeper into actionable steps and opportunities for individuals to actively participate in the sustainability cause. (Mirian highlighted during the meeting that) despite the inherent challenges faced in executing a complex pilot project, what emerged can only be aptly described as a 'miracle course,' a testament to the collective resilience and dedication that went into overcoming obstacles. 

The working groups, namely “Incubate Research,”“Involve Policy,” and “Impact Practice,” presented their results, offering a glimpse into the dynamic activities unfolding within the network. The Incubate research group, for instance, generated ideas and proposals for collaborative research, including a joint paper on “ESD and Social Transformation.” Discussions revolved around organizing events and the ongoing search for funds. The working group 'Involve Policy' formulated concrete tasks and ideas aimed at advancing our mission, including initiatives to actively promote the network, establish linkages to policy statements, and foster direct contact with policymakers. Simultaneously, the 'Impact Practice' working group set forth a compelling vision to create tangible outcomes for educators. Objectives include generating meaningful impact on educators, fostering open spaces for collaboration, envisioning future webinars and courses. These strategic efforts underscore our commitment to engaging with and influencing policy landscapes, concurrently emphasizing our dedication to influencing educational practices, cultivating research, and fostering impactful change. Through all these avenues, we can contribute significantly to the landscape of sustainability education, ensuring a comprehensive impact on policy, practice, and research."

Won Jung Byun, our esteemed guest speaker, shared valuable insights on the Greening Education Partnership (GEP), underlining its objective of synergetic and strategic implementation. The partnership strives to equip individuals, communities, and the wider world with the understanding, skills, values, and attitudes for transformative action in shaping green, low-emission, and climate-resilient societies. The four action areas of transformative education, encompassing greening schools, curriculum, teacher training, and communities, not only provided a roadmap for impactful engagement but also sparked our interest as a potential partner. We recognize the GEP as a source of inspiration, and exploring possible collaborations with them aligns with our commitment to continuous learning and innovative approaches in the realm of sustainability education."

John conceptualized his new project, Pol.BNE: Cultural Politics4Future: Advancing heritage-activated learning approaches for sustainable development in Southern Africa. This ambitious project aims to use culture and heritage as a foundation for building teacher and learner agency on sustainability transformations and global citizenship. Drawing on experiences from projects like Afrophilic Philosophy for Children (P4C), Sustainability Starts with Teachers (SST) and Politics4Future, and, the project seeks to develop, test, and implement a regional course. The theoretical framework, informed by critical realism and decolonial emergence, aligns with transgressive socio-cultural learning theory. The scaling-up activity will involve stages of consultative training, planning, implementing, and reflective interviews, capturing diverse voices in participatory action research. The anticipated outcome is a versatile model for integrating heritage-based learning into primary school curricula, contributing to sustainable development and global citizenship education in African contexts.

The last conference day unfolded with a field trip to the village of Archachnes. The immersive experiences included a guided tour of the village, a visit to a museum featuring historical artifacts, and exploration of a sustainable olive oil factory. These experiences deepened our understanding of the local culture, history, and sustainability practices.

Evenings were enriched with a culinary journey through lively dinners. Participants savored various Greek foods, from vine leaves filled with rice to souvlaki, and indulged in Greek salad enriched with exceptional olive oil and olives. These culinary delights became a backdrop for vibrant discussions.

The meeting served not only as a platform for reflection but also as a catalyst for new and old ideas. Task groups formed, intentions to scale up P4F were voiced, and concrete plans of action took shape. A decision on the structure of the network's governance marked a significant step forward. The gathering paved the way for future projects, including engagement with Erasmus+ and Leaders of Learners Empowerment (LOLE), fostering collaborations through intense talks, and the generation of innovative ideas.

In our quest for future impact, a crucial outcome highlighted the necessity to challenge the status quo regarding Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and Education for Sustainability (ESD), driven by the recognition that sustainability is not yet widely established enough in education worldwide. Gerd Michelsen shared a profound perspective, emphasizing that the essence of the network lies in the idea that open minds can find innovative ways to collaborate and work together. As we embark on this transformative journey, our commitment remains unwavering, fostering a collective spirit of innovation and collaboration that will continue to shape the landscape of sustainability education. We strive to reinforce our pivotal role in advancing shared goals and initiatives, solidifying our network’s significance within UNESCO.


The P4F concluding meeting in Crete was a resounding success. The combination of strategic discussions, collaborative talks, and hybrid meeting dynamics underscored the commitment of the UNITWIN Network to sustainability and education. As we chart future paths, the outcomes of this meeting provide a strong foundation for our collective journey. With renewed energy and shared visions, we look forward to the continued growth, impact, and success of our network.


Activity during Partners´ meeting ©Svenja Loos
Activity during Partners´ meeting