Event 8, “The CO-GREEN International School”, unfolded in three distinctive “legs”, each contributing significantly to its goal of training the CO-GREEN trainers, supporting the creation of an informed community of practitioners beyond country borders. The "Karditsa leg" took place in Greece during the month of November 2023, followed by the "Salerno leg" in Italy and the “Górno leg” in Poland, both in December 2023. This deliberate division of the school into three articulated legs allowed for a strategic and comprehensive approach to participant involvement and knowledge dissemination.

The training sessions were conducted according to the following schedule:

International Winter School in Karditsa: 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th November 2023
International School in Salerno: 15th December 2023
International School in Górno and Elbląg: 15th December, 2023 and 18th December 2023

In total, 100 participants were engaged, comprising the local trainers, from 10 countries in total: 35 participants from Poland, 26 from Italy, 2 from Croatia and 31 from Greece, 1 from Austria, 1 from France, 1 from Germany, 1 from Hungary, 1 from Romania, and 1 from Slovenia.


To create the cross-national “community of the CO-GREEN trainers”, bringing the 20 trainers together in a residential academy
To provide meaningful training opportunities to acquire specific competences for the promotion of participatory processes for community development
To finetune the trainers’ competences with respect to the challenges brought about by the Green Deal and the national implementation policies.

Description of activities:

The “Karditsa leg”

The “Karditsa leg” set the foundation for the entire training programme. Named “Winter Academy”, it was held in Karditsa (Greece) from November 26th to 30th, 2023 and it was organised by the CO-GREEN Greek partners, Euracademy and Municipality of Karditsa, in cooperation with the University of Thessaly, Department of Forestry, Wood Sciences and Design. The Winter Academy was structured on the model of the long-standing experience of Euracademy, being the 21st Academy to be held.

It served as the initial hub for collaborative learning and community engagement, combining frontal learning with groupwork, hands-on experience and other methods of interactive learning.

47 participants from 8 countries attended the school, where they shared their experiences in green policies and initiatives.

The training programme “Community-Based Action for the Green Transition of Rural Communities” included various sessions, workshops, and activities focused on the green transition of rural communities. The key topics included the green transition challenges, the role of Green Activators, community development methodologies, and good practice examples from various countries.

Participants engaged in open space discussions, workgroups, World Cafe sessions, and workshops on specific topics related to green transition and community engagement. The study trips to nearby examples of green transition efforts and results were organised on Tuesday, providing participants with practical insights. The participants prepared reports from the study trips and engaged in a workshop on training methods for developing Green Activators’ skills and competences. The program also included presentations, discussions, and a conclusions panel on the last day, evaluating the Winter Academy.

The event aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange, discussion, and learning among participants from different countries. It included a mix of theoretical sessions, practical workshops, and real-world examples through study trips.  The involvement of various stakeholders, including academic institutions, local municipalities, and organisations, showcased a collaborative approach to address green transition challenges in rural communities.

The organisers worked in synergy to create a dynamic and enriching environment. All the project communities from Poland, Italy, Croatia and Greece actively participated, contributing to the success of the event and laying the groundwork for the subsequent sessions in Salerno (Italy), Górno and Elblag (Poland).

The “Salerno leg”

The CO-GREEN International School in Salerno was held on 15th December, 2023 within the annual FQTS Training Academy (the multi-year training programme “Training for Third Sector Managers”) promoted by the Forum Nazionale del Terzo del Terzo Settore. The Salerno leg was organised by the Forum Nazionale del Terzo Settore; the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” supported the training programme with keynote speakers and trainers.

20 participants were engaged.

The focus was on the integral role of territorial communities as the main actors in the training process for local sustainable development. The local communities are seen as complex networks of relationships among individuals, organisations, and institutions, with Third Sector Entities (ETS) playing a fundamental part. The “lessons learned” in Karditsa were shared, and hands-on activities were implemented in group works. The keynote speeches delivered by Professors Volterrani and Petitta from the University of Rome Tor Vergata helped bring all participants onto the same page, prompting them to reflect on the pressing need for effective green action. This phase of the CO-GREEN International School was not just a replication but a further evolution of the programme. Trainers who had already undergone the initial training in Karditsa had the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge, taking on leadership roles in school sessions. This transfer of expertise ensured a seamless continuation of the learning process and allowed for the consolidation of acquired knowledge.

The CO-GREEN School proposed an intensive programme involving meetings and attentive listening to the needs and aspirations of individuals. The goal was to guide communities toward development, change, and awareness, emphasising the tangible possibility of shaping the future through the enhancement of relationships and social capital.

The event began with discussions on community-stakeholder interactions, followed by an Open Space Technology session on lifelong learning and access to environmental rights. Plenary sessions addressed topics such as community-based local development, inclusive training, green challenges for sustainability.

The “Górno and Elbląg leg”

The Górno School took place on December 15th and 18th, 2023 with the guidance of experts from CAL and NCU.

This event brought together 31 participants (17 from Górno and 14 from Elbląg) eager for a comprehensive learning experience.

The day included insightful testimonies from the Karditsa Academy, providing inspiration and practical examples for the attendees. Participants actively took part in hands-on training sessions, creating a dynamic and interactive learning environment. This practical approach ensured that competences, skills, and knowledge were not just conveyed but actively cultivated within the group. The emphasis on practical training aimed to empower participants to translate theoretical insights into tangible actions, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

The Górno and Elbląg School helped broaden the local context by exposing it to international stimuli. Through the exchange of different viewpoints and experiences, participants gained a nuanced understanding of the global dimensions of environmental challenges. The school underscored the significance of having trained and competent individuals to guide and steer the local community, especially in addressing the complex, multifaceted nature of green issues, which carry profound implications.

The diverse perspectives shared during the Górno and Elbląg School stressed the interconnectedness of environmental concerns on a global scale. Participants recognised the need for expertise in navigating the intricacies of sustainable practices and environmental policies. The realisation of the complexity and far-reaching consequences of green issues emphasised the importance of having knowledgeable leaders to effectively address and implement solutions within the local community. The Winter School, therefore, served as a catalyst for fostering a heightened awareness of the expertise required to navigate and contribute meaningfully to the sustainable development of the community.

Points of attention:

Our multi-step construction of the CO-GREEN International School infused it with a distinctly international character. Ahead of the school in Greece, representatives from each participating country were assigned the task of developing presentations covering various aspects related to the project’s theme. These presentations were then delivered during the meeting. Furthermore, during the meeting, all participants shared their experiences, key elements of which will be included in the materials after the School in Greece. These materials, as well as the entire repository of materials on the training process in our project, will also be available to all participants in the training courses that take place in the project partner countries.

Moreover, as part of the national training within each community, there will always be an individual who attended the School in Greece to share their experiences and insights gained from their interactions in Greece.

Concluding remarks:

The three-leg structure of the International School has proven to be a highly effective and adaptable approach, surpassing its initial objectives. The primary goal was to train a specific number of trainers (5 in each country) within the framework of the CO GREEN project. However, the outcome exceeded expectations, encompassing not only the planned trainers but also attracting additional participants, including experts, activists, and interested citizens.

This expanded participation has resulted in a diverse group of individuals now equipped and prepared to take active roles in their local communities. Beyond the original plan, these participants are ready to re-engage with the selected activators and provide them with the necessary training to become true catalysts for community activity focused on green measures. The success of the International School has translated into a multiplication effect, reaching a broader audience and cultivating a more extensive network of individuals ready to contribute to sustainability initiatives.

The post-International School landscape is characterised by a wealth of training resources. These resources include a comprehensive handbook and syllabus that serve as guides for future initiatives. Moreover, the invaluable knowledge gained from shared good practices during the training sessions has created a repository of insights into successful strategies and approaches.

The project’s community of practice has become a dynamic hub for ongoing collaboration and knowledge exchange. Participants, now well-versed in green measures and community engagement, are not only prepared to implement initiatives locally but also to contribute actively to the collective learning process. This iterative feedback loop ensures a continuous improvement in the strategies and methodologies applied in different local contexts.

The Co-green project is part of the CERV funding program – ” Citizens, equality, rights and values ” -, launched by the European Commission in 2021 and active until 2027.The project is funded by the European Commission .