ML-FREE Project Kick-Off Meeting in Venice: A Cross-Border Initiative for a Marine Litter-Free Adriatic Sea

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ML-FREE project, co-funded by the European Union, marked a significant step forward in addressing the issue of marine litter, with a specific focus on plastic pollution, in the Adriatic Sea. The recently concluded Kick-Off Meeting in Venice on November 2nd, 2023. brought together partners on the project committed to fostering a sustainable society through active youth participation and cross-border collaboration.

Overview of ML-FREE Project

The ML-FREE project, under the Interreg Italy-Croatia Programme, strives to create a Marine Litter-Free Adriatic Sea by enhancing environmental education and engaging young people in the fight against marine litter pollution. The project’s goals include increasing the knowledge and skills of cross-border high school students, raising awareness in local communities, and strengthening the capacities of educational institutions to implement effective programs for marine litter pollution and waste prevention.

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Kick-Off Meeting in Venice

Representatives from participating schools, Marco Polo Liceo Artistico andEkonomsko-birotehnička škola Split, presented overviews of their institutions and past projects. Marco Polo Liceo Artistico High School in Venice is renowned for its commitment to arts and education. With a focus on fostering creativity and exploration, the school engages students in various projects.

The School of Economics and Administration in Split provides students with a comprehensive understanding of economics and administration, emphasizing practical applications of knowledge, instilling a sense of responsibility toward the environment.

Tea Kuzmičić Rosandić, project manager offered a brief presentation on association Sunce with a focus on environmental education. Sunce implements programs like “More u mom kvartu,” “From the river to the sea, let’s be plastic free,” and Interreg Vera. Through interactive methods and workshops, Sunce aims to raise awareness and promote sustainable practices among students and the wider community.

At the meeting, we’ve set further joint steps in the implementation of the project and activities.

Students in Venice and Split think they are environmentally conscious, but their peers are not

The very first activity of the project was a Cross-border Workshop with the aim of exchanging knowledge and experiences in environmental education, active participation and best practices in Croatia and Italy.

Frederica Appiotti, from Marco Polo Liceo Artistico High School in Venice, presented the findings of the questionaries analysis conducted in Marco Polo Liceo Artistico. The analysis revealed that a significant percentage of students were aware of ecological issues, with 52% acknowledging the connection between human actions and the environment. However, 27% expressed a high interest in nature and the environment, indicating room for improvement in awareness levels.

–  They think they are very conscious, but their peers not. They want to learn more to share the knowledge with their peers. They believe a lot can be done, but they don’t know how. – said Appiotti.

Anita Kružičević presented The School of Economics and Administration in Split questionaries. The analysis revealed that the largest number of respondents are informed about environmental issues through social networks and television. This is surprising considering that environmental topics are represented in the school curriculum. Even though respondents expressed personal concern and interest in environmental protection, 80% believe that they cannot individually do much to protect nature and the environment.

– They are interested in and concerned about the environment. They are not sufficiently educated about environmental protection and believe they have enough knowledge about the climate crisis. They have all possibilities, but they are not conscious enough. The same like in Italy, they think they are conscious but their peers not. – said Kružičević.

ML-FREE cross-border educational program

Based on their questionaries, project will develop a of a cross-border Educational Program on marine litter and waste prevention.

This program aims to address the identified gaps in knowledge and awareness, fostering a collaborative and informed approach among students in both Marco Polo Liceo Artistico High School in Venice and the School of Economics and Administration in Split. Through targeted initiatives and engaging activities, the program will empower the youth to become active participants in the preservation of the Adriatic Sea, promoting a sustainable and litter-free environment for future generations.

At the same workshop, we exchanged knowledge and experience on the use of participatory methods in education for the protection of the environment and nature with an emphasis on marine litter.

The kick-off meeting of the ML-FREE project in Venice laid a solid foundation for the project. As the project progresses, the exchange of knowledge and experience will continue to play a key role in achieving the ambitious goals set by ML-FREE. – concluded Kuzmičić Rosandić.

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