Αiming at the strengthening and expansion of “HELMEPA Junior”, a three-year long program was implemented between 2008 and 2011 with the financial support of the UK-based independent charity The Lloyd’s Register Foundation - LRF, which achieved the following:
- Increase of the number of children-members participating in the “HELMEPA Junior” program to 4,000 annually.
- Enrichment of the program’s Action Plan with new activities and experiments that bring young children closer to the world of shipping and scientific fields such as biology, environment and ecology, zoology and physics.
- Design and operation of the “HELMEPA Junior” website in English (www.helmepajunior.gr/en).
- Introduction of a new members’ category for youth above the age of 13 titled “HELMEPA Cadets” and design of exclusive website (http://www.helmepacadets.gr/index-e.php) containing useful information on the marine environment, shipping, sciences and marine-related professions.
As Cadets, former members of HELMEPA Junior and other environmentally aware youth are offered the opportunity to continue to foster their environmental interests and to take action for the protection of our country’s natural wealth.
Following this successful cooperation, in October 2011 the LRF granted the funding for a new proposal submitted by HELMEPA regarding the implementation of the “Marine Environment and Sciences Awareness Campaign” in 12 cities and towns of Greece.
This joint HELMEPA/LRF campaign is comprised of actions which aim to inform primary and secondary education students as well as the wider public about shipping, the environment, applied sciences and engineering.
The program is implemented for 2 weeks in each location and includes the following:
- Mobile environmental exhibition that is visited by schoolchildren.
- Dissemination of informative/educational material.
- Environmental survey and student activities.
- Workshop on marine litter.
The project areas include the following: Volos, Serres, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Kavala, Komotini, Alexandroupolis, Mytilini, Andros, Nafplio, Crete and Kalymnos.
It is hoped that at the conclusion of the program, a total of 15,000 students will have visited the environmental exhibition, while 450,000 residents will have benefited from this joint HELMEPA and LRF initiative.
In the framework of UNEP's Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), HELMEPA takes part in the meetings of the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and Coastal Region of the Mediterranean. Contracting Parties are all the Mediterranean States and the European Commission, while HELMEPA participates as a MAP Partner.
In 2006, following the proposal of the UNEP/MAP Secretariat that was approved by the Contracting Parties, HELMEPA was nominated as Alternate Member of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (ΜCSD). The Commission is formed by government representatives of the Mediterranean States, representatives of local authorities, industrial sectors and NGOs, as well as UNEP and the European Commission. The aim of the MCSD is to advise and support the efforts of the Mediterranean countries to implement at the national level the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD).
In cooperation with the MED POL Program of UNEP/MAP, HELMEPA together with the NGOs MIO-ECSDE and CLEANUP GREECE are implementing a Public Awareness Campaign on Marine Litter in the Mediterranean. The aim of this campaign is to address the problem of marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea and along the coast with the participation of as many stakeholders as possible. In the framework of the campaign, informative leaflets have been printed and disseminated in 11 Mediterranean languages, as well a detailed Guide for all stakeholders titled "Public Awareness for the Management of Marine Litter in the Mediterranean".
During the summer of 2007 and 2008, a public awareness campaign titled "I Want Clean Seas and Beaches" was implemented in cooperation with associate member-company WIND. Α special informative leaflet depicting the time it takes for various litter items to dissolve in the environment was designed and widely disseminated, while a special electronic arcade game was created starring HELMEPA’s Seagull cleaning seas and beaches from garbage http://www.helmepajunior.gr/game003.html.
Analysis of data from the International Coastal Cleanup, coordinated by HELMEPA every year in Greece, show that cigarette ends constitute steadily the number one litter item found on our beaches. Thus, on the initiative of associate member-company Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Hellas, since the summer of 2007 an awareness raising campaign titled "In the summer we fish for... cigarette ends" is carried out for the prevention of pollution of seas and beaches with cigarette ends.
The campaign was implemented on beaches of 75 coastal Municipalities with the placement of ecological litter bins, dissemination of informative leaflets, posters and disposable ashtrays to beachgoers. In total, more than 70,000 beachgoers were informed, the majority of whom acknowledged the problem and encouraged this joint effort to eliminate cigarette ends from the beautiful beaches of Greece. In 2009 this successful campaign was extended to Cyprus in cooperation with the Cypriot Marine Environment Protection Association – CYMEPA.
This is the title of the joint awareness raising campaign carried out by HELMEPA and member company North Aegean Sea Canneries SA aiming to sensitize the users of fishing vessels and pleasure craft for the prevention of marine litter.
Posters and brochures with useful advice for users of all boat types concerning marine pollution prevention are being disseminated to Port Authorities, marina operators, fishing cooperatives and sailing clubs throughout the country, since summer of 2009.
From 2008 to 2010, HELMEPA was a Registered Participant to the Educational Program of the International Polar Year-IPY which was a joint scientific program οf the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for the period 2007-2010.
Thousands of scientists from 60 countries participated in the largest coordinated interdisciplinary research for the poles. The goal was to compile a comprehensive picture of the earth’s Polar Regions during the implementation period of the program.
The Ιnternational Polar Year introduces a new era in the field of research for the poles with collaboration and exchange of information, not only within the scientific community, but also in the wider society. IPY aims also at educating the public about Polar Regions and involving a new generation of earth scientists.
In the context of the program, HELMEPA included research activities in the Action Plan of the program “HELMEPA Junior” and translated into Greek and disseminated to teachers and schoolchildren informative e-bulletins regarding various themes such as "Human settlements in Polar Regions", "Above the Poles" and "Polar Oceans" aiming at informing the school community about the Polar Regions and bringing anyone interested into direct contact with polar scientists.
Since 1991, HELMEPA coordinates in Greece the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) campaign, which takes place during the third weekend of every September.
The aim of this global voluntary action, an initiative of the US-based NGO Ocean Conservancy, is to measure the degree of environmental sensitivity of individuals and local communities when asked to voluntarily clean beaches from litter.
In this framework, HELMEPA invites every year sensitized citizens, cooperating entities, local and port authorities as well as HELMEPA and HELMEPA Junior members throughout Greece, to take part in this voluntary effort by organizing a cleanup of a nearby beach.
Equipped by HELMEPA with relevant information material, gloves, bags and the special Data Recording Card, children and adult participants give an example of voluntary spirit and sensitivity for Clean Seas and Beaches. Data on the types and sources of marine litter are publicized by HELMEPA for the awareness of all of us towards the solution to the problem.