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Leadership for positive impact


ESA Sustainability Activator from Crete becomes a changemaker in The Congo

Vincent Hoogstad attended the ESA Sustainability Activator workshop in 2022 as the founder of Animal Rehabilitation Crete. His mission, to provide education, knowledge and practical physiotherapy for injured animals on Crete and trying to change the prevailing mindset towards sentient creatures.

Unsurprisingly, Vincent encountered numerous barriers, disappointments and set- backs to his aspirations in applying his human physiotherapy credentials and expertise for giving relief to animals in pain.

Vincent attended the SA 2022 workshop hoping for some new inspiration. He never anticipated how much clarity of ‘purpose’ he would gain, a better understanding of his existing knowledge and skills and what new competencies he needed for momentum towards making the most impact. The critical learning for Vincent was how to identify essential stakeholders in alignment with his own aspirations, and how to communicate with those stakeholders with impact.

He realised that his true purpose is to work with primates to contribute to greater understanding about ‘pain relief’ in both humans and animals. He says it was a ‘lifechanging’ realisation for him. With this new insight Vincent methodically reviewed his current skills and researched what was necessary for him to follow his newly realised ‘purpose’. An experiential, in the field, learning programme at The Centre for Rehabilitation of Primates Lwiro | Democratic Republic of Congo (CRPL) became a clear choice for him for developing the specific skills that he realised he needed.

As a trained human and animal physiotherapist but not a veterinarian, there was no guarantee that Vincent would be accepted on the programme. Impressed by both the work of CRPL and Vincent’s commitment, ESA was happy to offer him sponsorship for his place on the programme. He was accepted, and his changemaking path has been ‘super boosted’ by the new knowledge and skills he has gained from that experience in June 2024.

Vincent will be sharing his experiences from The Congo and his insights about the importance of diligent stakeholder engagement at the 2024 ESA Sustainability Activators workshop 13 – 15 September.

Green skills competencies development framework

ESA designs a green skills competencies development framework for Greece sustainable tourism objectives

The Greek National Strategy 2030, for sustainable tourism does not currently have a management competencies development framework to drive the strategic transition. In 2023 a joint study by INSETE (Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation) and Deloitte found that around 60% of the responding  tourism sector professionals do not measure their business sustainability impact because they do not know how to. Sustainability literacy and  carbon counting skills are critical for a green transition in any sector.

During Q1 of 2024, ESA - Crete conducted our own study to get more understanding of what green management skills are required in the tourism sector in Greece.

Our key findings include:

  1. Generally, Greek tourism sector and hospitality professionals do not know what the terms Net Zero (carbon) or Green Transition mean, but they THINK they know which perpetuates a ‘talk – act’ gap and marketing ‘greenwashing’ across the sector.
  2. Generally, across the Greek tourism sector, biodiversity is not valued, or even noticed,  as a contributor to the tourist experience, despite studies showing that tourists are making vacation choices based on sustainability credentials and will pay up to 38% more.
  3. The Greek tourism sector is not ready  for the impending, mandatory ESG auditing and reporting across the sector.

ESA has created a CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK for knowledge, skills and attitude (behaviours) competencies development, which builds on the EU GreenComp  and UK  Leadership Apprenticeship, workplace learning models.

On 28th May, the ESA study authors Sharon Jackson and Rosa V. Espinoza will present their study at the international Cultural Sustainable Tourism (CST)  Conference, hosted by the University  of Maia, Portugal.

The European Sustainability Academy joins the EU Pact For Skills – Green Skills

At ESA we are delighted to have been accepted by the European Commission as a member of the ‘The Pact for Skills’ partnership.
A component of the EU Skills Agenda and EU Green Deal objectives, the Pact for Skills community aims to mobilise a concerted effort for quality investment in up- and reskilling Europe’s workforce. The Pact for Skills collaboration enables a platform for collaboration and co-creation in green skills development opportunities for driving the green transition towards net- zero by 2050.
ESA is currently working on innovative Vocational Education Training interventions and workplace learning models for the tourism and construction sectors which both contribute to high climate changing greenhouse gas emissions.

The International Ecological Engineering Society (IEES)

ESA was delighted to welcome some of the IEES members from one of the technical tours of the ‘Closed Cycles and the Circular Society' conference at Platanias, Chania, organised by Prof. Alexandros Stefanakis from The Technical University of Crete. The guests enjoyed a visit to the circular economy Tzompanakis hand blown glass workshop before enjoying ESA’s locally sourced, exquisitely tasty Cretan vegetarian feasts. ESA Architect Zeta Chrysafaki and ESA Caterer Stella Diomandaraki delivered consummate professionalism and their attention to detail as always.


TranFIRe Research Hub Cranfield: Sustainable Materials Research Workshop at ESA Crete

TransFIRe is a UKRI funded Research Hub at Cranfield University, with 12 research organisations based in the UK and more than 70 project partners from across the foundation industries, trade associations, professional membership bodies, civic sector and government organisations.
Foundation industries cover: Chemicals, Metals, Glass, Cement, Paper, Ceramics.
Professors and Post Doctoral Researchers spent a week at ESA for a customised agenda of skills development workshops, visits to emerging sustainable businesses in Crete, waste management facilities (DEDISA) and academic exchanges with the Technical University of Crete.

The week was enhanced by the enjoyment of the usual ESA Cretan hospitality and nighttime starwatching.

An academic output of this programme was the LCA analysis of ESA as a sustainable event venue.
As one participant said: “The transition to a sustainable future starts with sustainable manufacturing. Let’s build a better world, one product at a time.”
Read more about the programme

Essential skills development for Sustainability Activators

This is what the participants said about the new ESA Sustainability Activator and Changemakers skills development workshop



Sustainability Activators and Changemakers Skills Development Workshop

The combination of many parts of the world now feeling the effects of climate change, every day, along with the COVID pandemic which touched every area of the planet, seemed to stimulate a new vigour of ambition towards sustainability action.

Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting became mainstream almost overnight. This has guided a significant amount of investment towards green technologies development.

The UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) are now frequently cited as the aims and aspirations of companies and communities across the globe.
At COP26 in Glasgow, 2021, there was a first ever commitment by nations to phase out coal, in the shift towards a Green Economic Transition that will meet the Paris Climate Target of 1.5 degrees increased warming by 2030.

It all sounds like we are on a good path towards a sustainable planet. Right?
Unfortunately, not so.

In June this year, just 6 months since those agreements at COP26, a report by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) concludes, ‘The world is no longer making progress on the SDGs’ this means the world is falling behind the 1.5 degrees warming target.

WHY IS THIS? Firstly, most people on the planet still do not fully understand what climate change is, why it is happening and how it can be reversed.
Secondly, many people working in organisation that have the most negative, or potentially positive impact, do understand, however:

  • (A) They lack the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to activate the ambitious aspirations for delivering the SDGs and a 1.5 degree heated planet.
  • (B) Most businesses and public sector organisations function on a model from the 1990s, with the leadership taught by 1990s MBA models. These business formats are outdated and block sustainability thinking and progress towards a Green Economy.

WE HAVE A PROBLEM that many authors and orators are highlighting. At ESA we are attempting to address this problem.

PLEASE JOIN US, 15th – 16th September at ESA Crete, to be part of refining a pilot programme for cascading ‘Sustainability Activators and Changemaker Skills Development’. Follow the link to book your place.

We must all work together to break through this increasing problem that we all face.


Health and wellbeing impact of Green Buildings

Our research on the health and wellbeing impact of Green Buildings on people (Biophilia), has been published in Springer Nature Advances in Science, Technology and Innovation (ASTI) series.

Congratulations and thanks to our co-authors in India, Lakshmikant Singh and Trupti Doshi.
You can obtain a soft copy of our research (Chapter 16) or the whole book which includes other excellent studies on Green Urbanisation via the publisher Springer.


Young Greek Greens

22 - 26 September 2021

Super to welcome the Young Greek Greens - Neoi Prasinoi to European Sustainability Academy - Crete for their 5 day, experiential learning, summer camp. Congratulations to Andreas Karadakis for his excellent event organisation. It was fantastic to hear these bright young people talking about ACTION and discussing HOW to engage people in changing their behaviours.


SummerCamp DAY 4. Learning a lot and having fun too at European Sustainability Academy - Crete.
Thank you Eleni and Eleanora from Eleonora’s taverna for the fantastic catering.
And, of course, the beautiful visit from K. Marika Bolaraki (91 years young), bringing flowers from her garden, was treasured by all of us.


4 trailers of garbage collected from the beautiful Koutalas spot Kokino Chorio, Apokoronas
WELL DONE to the participants NeoiPrasinoi SummerCamp for taking action. NOW. We need to change behaviour and STOP people from dumping in and destroying the beautiful Natural Environment of Crete. BeBraveGreenGreece.


SummerCamp Day 5. A WONDERFUL FINAL DAY: Learning about the natural environment IN the natural environment. From the morning energizer, the training sessions, to the end of programme closing party with delicious Dourakis Winery Cassiopeia Cretan Sparkling wine, AMAZING fully vegetarian dinner at To steki tou Leonida in Drapanos, and the final surprise for everyone, watching the planets in a perfectly clear night sky with our 'always fantastic' ESA_Crete resident astronomer Christos Sotiropoulos.
THANK YOU to everyone in Drapanos who helped us to create the perfect setting for Neoi Prasinoi Summer Camp 2021 and THANK YOU Andreas Karadakis for choosing European Sustainability Academy - Crete. It's been a pleasure.

Be Brave for a Greener Greece

22 - 26 September 2021

Getting ready at ESA to welcome:  YOUNG GREENS of Greece
"Be Brave for a Greener Greece" Summer Camp hosted by The Federation of Young European Greens at ESA.
A wonderful agenda for young people who want to be part of a unique international project and help build a better Europe.

Training topics include, social rights, collective decision making and green economy.
How to use online and offline tools for engaging active participation of young people in civil society.
Developing organisational and leadership skills for engaging community action.
Understanding wider issues of diversity and inclusion and the reality of feminism.


Joint Animal Welfare Society

ESA hosts Tea Party with Joint Animal Welfare Society - JAWS for PAWS.

A HUGE shout out to the Joint Animal Welfare Society - JAWS for PAWS organisers and the helpers who pulled off a FANTASTIC event at ESA. Everything was wonderful... the sandwiches, the cakes, the wine, the service, the presentation, the singing from Prue and an all round fabulous feeling of being part of humanity again! An EXCELLENT fundraising achievement of €2000 for The Souda Shelter Project and Cretan Animal Protection. Both very hardworking and deserving organisations.
THANK YOU to all of the guests who reached deep into their pockets to donate so generously.


Shinrin Yoku

Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing) will be one of our new offerings at at ESACrete as an important element of Sustainability and Leadership.

Sharon Jackson has recently completed the course with a distinction.

Circle the Med - The Mediterranean Online Forum 2020

Integrating Strategies for Sustainable Development. Circle the Med Forum 13.11.2020

The new, SDG, oft spoken phrase 'leave nobody behind' is easy to say and less easy to make happen. This focusses on basic, effective communication about concepts such as circular economy in a way that makes sense to people who are expected to integrate and scale-up 'strategies' that seem 'abstract' and distant from their daily reality. This is a call for action in widescale future leadership 'competency correction' through new, rigorous vocational and apprenticeship training standards. The old-style leadership model has no agency in a 1.5 degree planet.

Sharon speaking about Integrating Strategies for Sustainable Development And Cohesion


SEC Showcase of Toolkit for Young Entrepreneurs

Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:00
Thursday, 26 November 2020 20:00

How to make young people aware of entrepreneurial opportunities.

Have you considered educating young people about entrepreneurship? To help you, we have designed a ready-to-use toolbox!

This event is a demonstration of new tools for raising awareness of young people about the potential of youth entrepreneurship. Presentation of new youth entrepreneurship awareness tools developed by a European team from the Erasmus + project (France, Slovenia, Greece, Ireland).

Here is a video of the event:

TEDx Countdown Videos - Climate Change

This online event was part of the TED Countdown global launch to share ideas and showcases solutions, technologies and actions for addressing the global climate change emergency.

Due to the current pandemic restrictions, diverse speakers gave live talks via webinar. Attendees were from diverse locations with many from island states, suffering similar climate change crisies as Crete. Discussions were built in to the agenda for knowledge sharing and collaborative networking. The event closed with a CALL TO ACTION! The content of these talks is very practical and grounded in suggestions for local action. There is no more time for abstract theories.

See The TEDx Countdown videos:



CONGRATULATIONS Lefteris Arapakis on being awarded the title 'Europe’s Young Champion of the Earth' by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The organisation he set up in his 20s Εναλεία (Enaleia)- Mediterranean Cleanup not only clears the ocean of plastic waste but also puts circular economy into action and teaches new skills for sustainable fishing practices to Greek fishermen of the past and the future.
Since its launch, Enaleia has collected more than 80 tonnes of plastic from the sea.
Lefteris is an inspirational Young Entrepreneur who is taking action to repair the environmental damage in the ocean.


Making Sense of Climate Change on Crete

Making Sense of Climate Change on Crete - Taking Action

TEDxEuropeanSustainabilityAcademy – a LIVE online event.
Saturday, 17th October, 1300 – 1730, one of 500 events in 19 countries to launch TED Countdown, to share ideas and showcase solutions, technologies and actions for addressing the global climate change emergency.
The event aim is to share the voices of the people of Crete, with knowledge and experience from other islands to create a blue- print for climate change action and engage all leading stakeholders on Crete.
Language will be Greek and English
Event hosted from the off-grid, PV powered, natural materials, biophilia designed building, European Sustainability Academy (ESA)in Drapanos, Apokoronas, Crete.

TEDxEuropeanSustainabilityAcademy - μια ζωντανή διαδικτυακή εκδήλωση.
Σάββατο, 17 Οκτωβρίου 13.00 - 17.30, μία από τις 500 εκδηλώσεις σε 19 χώρες για την έναρξη του TED Countdown, για την ανταλλαγή ιδεών και την παρουσίαση λύσεων, τεχνολογιών και δράσεων για την αντιμετώπιση του παγκόσμιου κινδύνου της κλιματικής αλλαγής.
Στόχος της εκδήλωσης είναι να μοιραστούν οι φωνές του λαού της Κρήτης, με γνώση και εμπειρία από άλλα νησιά για να δημιουργήσουν ένα αποτύπωμα για την αλλαγή του κλίματος και να προσελκύσουν όλους τους κορυφαίους ενδιαφερόμενους στην Κρήτη.
Η γλώσσα θα είναι ελληνική και αγγλική
Εκδήλωση που διοργανώθηκε από εκτός δικτύου, φωτοβολταϊκο με φυσικά υλικά, κτίριο σχεδιασμένο με βιοφιλία, Ευρωπαϊκή Ακαδημία Αειφορίας (ESA) στον Δράπανο, στον Αποκόρωνα, Κρήτης.

Schedule · Saturday, 17 October 2020





Countdown Global Launch

Watch the Countdown Global Launch, a call to action on climate change.


Host your event at ESA     

Powered only by Cretan sunshine, ESA is a beautiful building rooted in the earth amongst ancient rocks and olive trees, surrounded by nature. Its construction is a leading example of sustainability in practice. ESA is an experiential and creative place where people feel enlivened, uplifted and creative. Great living and great learning happen at ESA. A perfect setting for:

Leading sustainable enterprise

Our passion is contributing towards co-created sustainable enterprise for positive impact on communities and the natural environment on a global scale. Leadership and entrepreneur issues of adaptation, resilience, authenticity, sustainable-self, values connected sense-making and the continued emancipation of women (WISE) to take up more leadership roles in the world are at the core of the ESA sustainability experience.

Make sense of sustainability

Crete is the sustainable destination of the past and of the future.

Home of the Minoans, one of the earliest civilisations on earth, nestled between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Crete is rich with mythology, gastronomy, music, art and agriculture. You can have your own authentic experience of a sustainable lifestyle and feel first-hand the strong connection between nature and community.