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Leadership for positive impact

Sustainability Activators and Changemakers Skills Development Workshop

Fri 13th September 2024 - Sun 15th September 2024


Did you know, the first priority of bees is to ‘protect their hive’? Climate change is affecting every part of our world. What knowledge, skills and behaviours do we need to protect our ‘hive’ now, and in the future? This workshop aims to give guidance, support and encouragement to people with a desire to make change at all levels. With some inspiration from bees and changemaking challenges from The Amazon, The Congo and Crete!

The ESA ‘Sustainability Activators’ skills workshop was launched in 2022 and is central to ESA’s research and consulting activities. Some of the original content has been updated and enhanced through feedback from attendees, however, the impactful interactive action-learning, peer group exchange, 2-day skills development format remains unchanged.
Attendees of the 2022 pilot were inspired by what they learned and have become ‘focussed’ and ‘activated’ in their changemaking path. Vincent Hoogstad will share his ‘top tips’ from his journey between ‘aspiration to activation’ and how to break through barriers, including procrastination.


The workshop design draws on ESA’s membership of the EU Pact for Skills approach to investment in green skills development for upskilling and reskilling Europe’s workforce for driving the green transition towards net- zero by 2050. Also, underpinned by ESA’s 2023 consulting study with London based Chartered Management Institute (CMI) about green management and leadership competencies for the future of work, and ESA’s own 2024 study, in collaboration with Dr. Rosa Vasquez Espinoza from the Amazon Research Internacional, on Green Skills towards sustainable tourism and the need for workplace training.

The workshop is built around peer group exchange and practical application, with examples, for addressing real problems. Times are changing fast. The most experienced ‘activists’ are requiring new skills and ‘upskilling’ for leading the Green Transition. Both ‘aspirational’ Sustainability Activators and experienced Changemakers will leave with revitalised ideas and a ‘supercharge’ of resilience and nourishment.

Cost: The workshop attendance cost is €450 (plus taxes where applicable).This includes daily transport between ESA and local accommodation, daily welcome ‘breakfast’, morning coffee with Cretan snacks, lunch and afternoon tea with Cretan ‘sweets’, end of day ‘drinks’ and closing ceremony.

Optional: Invitation to attend a Sustainable Tourism roundtable discussion with drinks / canapes reception from 6pm on Friday 13th September, at ESA. The main findings from ESA’s recent research paper on the need for strategic Green Skills teaching in tourism will be presented (no extra cost).

Optional: Sunday 15th September: A tour for wine-tasting at Dourakis Green Winery and Biolea Organic Olive Oil mill with a circular economy lunch, cost €50 per person. The tour will end in time for evening flights from Chania airport.

Participants must arrange their own travel to Crete and their accommodation. Information about flights and local accommodation can be provided on request.

 For Further Information or to Book Your Place


Key Aim of this programme

The workshop aims to demystify what Green Skills are and how to develop them in a way that is relevant to your sector and/or specific role.

To achieve the aim of supporting and equipping sustainability changemakers with the skills, tools, techniques, confidence and resilience to deliver ambitious commitments, the workshop is built around peer group exchange and practical application, with examples, for addressing real problems.

This programme has been designed to break through the current ‘talk act gap’. ESA’s consulting work with CMI about green management skills, combined with recent research in the sustainable tourism and hospitality sector has highlighted a prevalent, often unconscious, ‘gap’ in knowledge and skills which is screened by a ‘I think I know’ approach. For a net zero, green transition to happen before 2050, it is essential that this ‘talk act gap’ is noticed, understood and replaced with robust knowledge and skills for making change and for normalising that change for a green economy.

  • You will learn the essential ‘green’ management competencies for activating and operationalising sustainability in your own role.
  • You will learn new knowledge, skills and behaviours for creating impactful collaborative partnerships for activating sustainability goals.
  • You will learn how to navigate the toughest barriers to change and how to break through stalemate stages of conflict in goals towards consensus.
  • You will learn how to measure and evaluate sustainability impact, and how to communicate that impact for catalysing momentum and scalability.

The global deficit in the competencies that are essential for reaching a net zero, green transition by 2050 is well researched and reported. Good intentions and bold aspirations alone, with some tactical actions, will not slow down climate change. This programme addresses the gap between espoused commitments to sustainability and practical implementation. This applies to leaders, managers, and people in every level of organisations and society, at local and national levels across the globe.

This two-days immersion in exploration and troubleshooting on the challenges of implementation and learning how to be an effective activator for sustainability is structured around:

  • Tools and techniques to takeaway and use in your work/ community including: the ESA Sustainability Activators Map, a LCA analysis of your time at the event, robust evaluation process, NEW conceptual framework for green skills development based on published study findings about the management and sensemaking skills of bees!
  • Action learning from genuine local business sustainability challenges. Projects include energy, tourism, hospitality and agriculture. Participants are invited to bring their own projects for a team to work on.
  • Knowledge, Skills and Behavioural development in critical areas of communications, strategy, self-management and purposeful collaboration.
  • Facilitated learning and feedback sessions plus individual reflective ‘journaling’ time.
  • Fireside stories from inspirational ‘Sustainability Activators’.
  • Informal social/outdoor activities grounded in sustainability values

ESA’s learning format is always grounded in mutual and respectful peer group exchange. Facilitators and guest speakers are active in the action learning sessions with participants and every person has new ideas, experiences and ‘top tips’ to share. Every voice is heard and we all learn and hone our skills together.

Participants are likely to be from business (any sector), NGOs (particularly policy related) or from academia, with a role in communicating research in practice. Attendees may be at a career transition stage or just want to understand more about how to equip themselves with ‘futureproof’ knowledge, skills and behaviours for responding, with impact, to the call for action on the green transition and help secure our future and for generations to come after us.

This is a FACE TO FACE, immersive learning experience. There is an optional 1 month online group follow up to hear how everyone has got on with their new Green Skills, share learning and maintain momentum!


At the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Have a clearer understanding of your existing knowledge, skills and behaviours as a sustainability activator, and gaps in your competencies.
  • Use new communication tools and techniques to leverage greater influence for driving change.
  • Apply robust evaluation and measurement principles for understanding the true impact of your change intervention.
  • Present your best self and your objectives, give and receive feedback, with confidence.
  • Simultaneously hold a view of the strategic context and your own individual project details for activating sustainability change.
  • Build in resilience across collaborations through your enhanced knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Draft agenda, subject to modification.

The workshop format follows the ESA Sustainability Activators Map framework for focussed competency development.

Day 1: 13th September 2024 | What are your sustainability goals? How do your goals align with global challenges of the next decade?


Welcome to ESA, coffee, tea and breakfast pastries


START: Introductions


What does ‘Sustainability Activation’ mean? | Collective understanding


Making sense of sustainability | Introduction to Knowledge Skills and Attitudes/Behaviours frameworks


Making sense of the macro challenges | How change works in reality


Measuring Impact introduction


BREAK – Coffee and Cretan snacks


Setting up ‘Action Learning’ projects | Preparing the project teams for success


Start working on the ‘Activator Map’ framework ‘ as a team|.  Understanding the ‘Action Learning’ problem from a planning and strategic view |


Understanding, sensemaking of sustainability as individuals and as a team | Creating a firm baseline for collaboration


WALK to LUNCH at a Drapanos village taverna


 Day 1: Part 2. Becoming a Sustainability Activator, through impeccable communication skills

  • Understanding the impact of personal style on interpersonal relationships
  • Learning new techniques for engaging people and nudging change



Welcome back and reflection on learning so far


Relationship management and influencing others, from all levels, to make change happen.


Stakeholder mapping with purpose.


Tracking and Sustaining Change | Gathering evidence to promote the case for change | Measuring Impact 


BREAK – Afternoon tea with Cretan sweets
Inspiring stories – Fireside chat from the Congo


Power and Influencing in reality | How to manage relationships and influence people with impact and authenticity.


Planning into action | Problem definition and approach.


Reflection and relating new KSB learning to the ‘Action Learning’ Project.  Revising the project ‘Activator Map’.


Day 1. CLOSE : Optional Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality Round Table . Presentation of new study findings with drinks and canapes


Day 2: 14th September 2024 Walking My Talk as a Sustainability Activator

  • Navigating my way (inside and outside of the organisations, policy makers) as a positive influencer.
  • Elevating self- awareness, of my own impact as a sustainability changemaker



Welcome, coffee, tea and breakfast pastries


Day 2.  check-in


Inspiring stories – Fireside chat from the Amazon


Shinrin Yoku: Reflection/ connecting with nature and ‘noticing’ at a deeper level.


Tea Ceremony and Journalling opportunity


Matching own wants and needs with stakeholder wants and needs.
Objection Handling and Negotiating.


Engaging people, as an activator with positive influence through ‘connection’.
Using sustainability ‘communication anchors’ that make sense to stakeholders


WALK to LUNCH at a Drapanos village taverna


Check- in around the room and reflection.


Pulling together all newly learned  competencies.
Completing, the ‘Activator Map’ solution for presenting  the ‘Action Learning project’ proposal solution.


Reflection and Call to Action :  CLOSING CEREMONY


FINALE: THE LIVE DEBATE!Is ESG reporting a credible force for organisational change?’
With a  glass of Cretan organic wine in your hand and plates of delicious olives, graviera cheese, honey and more, in front of you, sit back and enjoy
2 high profile sustainability professionals from both sides of the argument go ‘head to head’ to try to convince one another and you, of their view.
You can vote YES , NO or Don’t Know.
Will they convince you to change your mind?
The poll at the end of the debate will reveal all!
Details of the debaters and the ‘Referee’ will be revealed at a later date.


Day 2. CLOSE


Day 3: 15th September 2024 | 09.00 – 17.00 Optional TOURS to Dourakis Green Winery for a tour and wine-tasting, and Biolea organic olive mill for a tour and circular economy lunch.
Cost €50 per person including transport. Drop off at Chania for return flights.

Listen to the Sustainability Activators 2022 experiences.

Sharon Jackson

Sharon Jackson founded ESA in 2011 for impactful sustainable business management and leadership training. She has over 2 decades of experience as an adult and higher education teacher and researcher, working globally in executive education in academia, in business and consulting roles. Her current work focusses on L7 Senior Leader Apprenticeship Tutoring, and Masters in Sustainability supervision at Cranfield University, and collaboration with the EU Pact for Skills partnership in developing workplace, VET knowledge, skills and behaviours frameworks for driving the green transition to net-zero by 2050.

Her recent study focusses on the shortfall in ‘green skills’ necessary for driving the Greek national sustainable tourism agenda to 2030. The paper will be published at the end of 2024.
Sharon Jackson at Linked In

Prof. Thanasis Spyriadis

Thanasis is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Crete. He holds a PhD in performance evaluation of tourism development organisations (DMOs) and a MSc in Tourism Management and Marketing from Bournemouth University. His research interests focus on strategic management and marketing in tourism; performance evaluation of tourism development organisations and DMOs; project and programme evaluation; tourism policy, planning and development; management and governance of tourist destinations; cultural tourism; adventure tourism. His research has been published in prestigious international journals He has been the Leader of research and consulting projects funded by various organizations including The Association of British Travel Agencies (ABTA)

At Manchester Metropolitan University, he won the silver award in the category of Learning for a Sustainable Future, Green Impact Awards 2014.
Thanasis Spyriadis at The Universiity of Crete

Dr. Rosa Vásquez Espinoza

Rosa is a Ph.D. chemical biologist, conservationist, National Geographic Explorer, Explorer Club “50 People Changing The World” and nature TV presenter. Of Peruvian-Andean and Amazonian descent, Rosa grew up learning about traditional medicine from her grandmother in their backyard’s "natural pharmacy". Today, Rosa travels to the most extreme environments of the Amazon Rainforest searching for the tiniest creatures, from microbes to stingless bees, to create big changes in the world. She also collaborates with educators to integrate hands-on exploration experiences that combine science and art for sustainability action.

As founder of Amazon Research Internacional, Rosa unites scientific research with powerful storytelling to advocate for sustainable conservation of Amazonian biodiversity and culture while improving livelihoods. Focused on Amazonian Stingless Bees, Rosa and collaborators have united indigenous communities, local businesses, national government and international institutions leading to enhanced bee-based sustainable tourism and practices with tangible positive impact in Peru’s sustainability goals. These efforts have been highlighted in National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, TreeHugger and more.
Amazon Research Internacional
Rosa Vásquez at Linked In

Vincent Hoogstad

Vincent, originally from Rotterdam, NL, is a veterinary physical therapist, anatomist and behavioural ecologist, specialising in primate movement, behaviour and conservation. He works as a practitioner, teacher and researcher in these fields. Vincent’s motivation as a ‘changemaker’ is grounded in his belief that human dominance on earth is overestimated.

Vincent is an advocate for natural behaviour, and for the One-Health movement, which makes the connection between human and animals health with planetary environmental health. His first book “Monkey business - Pain in humans and other animals” will be published in autumn 2024.
Vincent Hoogstad at Linked In
Animal Rehabilitation Crete

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.