European Footprints is an initiative on the Sustainable Development Goals, initially started by trainees in the Blue Book programme of the European Commission in 2018. Its development took place in close collaboration with the World's Largest Lesson - an NGO promoting the SDGs. We raise awareness about the footprints we leave behind, and we encourage cultivating a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle - ecologically, socially and emotionally. As such, the project is closely aligned with European values such as equality and respect for human rights. We rely on storytelling as a medium to reach across borders and lifestyles, and to inspire identification with a common European cultural space.
The initiative started with a group of young trainees wanting to produce a single and simple video that would contribute to raising awareness of the SDGs. However, after launching an open call to involve other participants, the outcome turned out to be unexpected: there were so many young Europeans out there caring about many different things concerning their future and sustainability. A short video simply would not have been enough to collect all their personal stories, amazing projects or grass-roots initiatives connected to the Goals. The European Footprints initiative came to life by aiming to harness the enthusiasm of young Europeans and transforming it into stories that can inspire their peers. We invite them to consider their own views and values regarding their society, its processes and institutions, and to take action where they can.
Our initiative promotes sustainability through a holistic approach: economy, society, environment are all strongly interlinked and are all equally contributing to the goal of building a more sustainable society. We believe that stories inspire change and participation, and our stories range from everyday decisions such as forgoing the use of plastic bags, to planning a life and career around chemical engineering to make a difference. We aim to promote the philosophies behind the SDGs by reaching out to people both as individuals and as members of wider communities.
We started by asking the selected participants what they cared about the most, under the hashtag “WhatDoYouCareAbout”. The process included more than 30 young Europeans and covered all of the then 28 EU Member States. The participants shared their personal stories connected to the SDGs, about passions, projects or initiatives they have taken part in. The one-video project soon grew into 3 short videos and a storybook aimed at high school children. The videos were published in 2019 and are available online on a dedicated Facebook page and YouTube channel, in English with subtitles provided in 20 EU languages. All participants’ stories have been also collected and edited in 300 words versions to create a storybook/toolkit to be used in classrooms. The whole process made the organizing team aware that young people, contrary to what is sometimes believed when speaking about “passive millennials”, have great concern about the world around them and, what is more important, are willing to do something about it. European Footprints, therefore, decided to continue its work as an organized initiative with a simple goal – to spread positive inspiration for sustainability as a lifestyle, using storytelling to achieve this. Currently, European Footprints includes young Europeans from all EU Member States, both as representatives and voices of the project and as its intended audience. The project aims to have an impact using a snowball effect of other young Europeans becoming inspired by the original set of participants from the different Member States. They can, in turn, spark more interest in the SDGs in their own communities and countries. Therefore, the participants themselves become ambassadors of our common sustainable and European values in their own countries and can engage other members of their community.
So far, the initiative has: - produced 3 educational videos in English, with subtitles in 20 official EU languages. - published 1 educational storybook/toolkit aimed at high school children aged 13-18 years old which has been downloaded hundreds of times and used as a learning tool in classrooms throughout the world. - established dedicated Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts where we publish all the activities and results of the initiative, with thousands of social media impressions. - been officially endorsed by the European Commission: Ms Themis Christophidou, Director General of the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture has shared our initiative via her official social media accounts; the initiative has been featured on the official Erasmus social media accounts, with Erasmus alumni networks, etc. - created a webspace where we share our newly launched podcast, blogs and collaborations. - established or working on establishing collaboration with Friends of the Earth; Young Friends of the Earth; SDG Watch Europe; Erasmus Student Network, PeaceJam Europe, etc.
We believe there is huge potential in youth, especially when it comes to social cohesion and communicating values to the citizens of Europe. Being officially recognised by the UN as one of the good practices would give us great encouragement to continue our efforts, both morally and financially. The support would enable us to further develop our ideas, gain visibility and reach more young people. As a grassroots initiative with limited funding, we are looking to further develop the future basis for our project: official registration as a non-for-profit and further dissemination of our activities including resources for producing materials (new videos and translations of the storybook).
The core team, which consists of 9 international volunteers, is now developing European Footprints’ digital and social media outreach, creating a network of collaborators and other similar initiatives, and producing new materials, such as teaching tools, which will be distributed digitally and as hard copies. We plan to continue our work as a non-profit association and to create an online platform to gather our multimedia products including written and video materials, both existing and new ones.
SDGS & Targets
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Deliverables & Timeline
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