European RCEs Gather to Engage, Exchange, and Identify Action Points to Advance Goals of the Region at Regional Meeting

(Report written by RCE Fryslân, edits by Global RCE Service Centre)


  • The Europe Regional Meeting 2022 (part II) was held from 10-13 October, 2022, hosted by RCE Fryslân.
  • Participants explored possibilities for collaboration and to concretize projects across European RCEs.
  • Field trips were conducted to learn about the Whole School Approach and how some organisations implement ESD in their programmes and educational models.
  • Plans were made to create working groups around the topics of Pedagogies for ESD and of research-based evaluations of RCE actions.

RCE Fryslân hosted the Europe Regional Meeting 2022 (part II) from 10-13 October, 2022 around the theme of 'Greater than the Sum of the Parts', with the support of RCE Scotland, RCE Oldenburger-Münsterland, the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), Ministry of the Environment, Japan and financial support of the Province of Fryslân, Netherlands.

Having already hosted the European Regional Meeting 2022 (part I), The Imaginative Power of the Region, in February 2022, which due to the pandemic took place in a fully online setting, for this meeting RCE Fryslân aimed at creating a programme in which the European RCEs could meet each other physically in order to explore possibilities for collaboration and concretize projects across European RCEs.

The meeting was opened with a welcome by Mr. Matthijs Rutten (Director, NHL/Stenden UAS), followed by congratulatory remarks by Mr. Keisuke Midori (Section Chief of the Ministry’s Secretariat, Office of Environmental Education, Ministry of the Environment of Japan). Following this, Dr. Phillip Vaughter (Global RCE Service Centre) and Dr. Betsy King (RCE Regional Advisor for Europe) gave an update about the current state of the Global, respectively European RCE Network.

Participants embarked on their shared journey under the guidance of Ms. Kirsten Leask (RCE Scotland) with a working session where they Scanned the Horizons (identified current trends), looked for Storms & Pirates (discussed which challenges were most urgent/important) and identified Fair Winds and Calm Seas (reminded themselves of what is promising and hopeful). Having all embarked and set the context for the meeting, next was a field trip to Aeres, a T-VET Institute, where participants learned how Aeres has implemented the Whole School Approach, followed by a visit to UG/Campus Fryslân, to learn how this recently established University Campus lives and breathes ESD through their various programmes and educational models.

The afternoon session back at the conference venue provided RCEs with the opportunity to share presentations about their projects and local partners who were involved in the respective RCEs. In an open space, all RCEs put up posters they had prepared about their RCE, which gave everyone the possibility to walk around, engage in personal conversation and exchange thoughts on the different ways of organising and structuring an RCE. A brief round of reflections allowed all to think about key take-aways from their conversations.

Gathering at NHL/Stenden UAS to end the day at the student-restaurant Wannee, a presentation was given by Dr. Erica Schaper (President, NHL/Stenden) about their recent institution-wide switch to Design Based Education, and by Ms. Victoria Snouck-Hurgronje (Teacher and coordinator of the GreenWave movement within the school), about how the institutions try to engage students and build a bottom-up movement towards sustainability in the school. With her were some of the students building the GreenWave movement, as well as representatives of seven youth organisations from the region who shared projects in the region aimed at and led by young people.

The second day started with a video message from Mr. Bernard Combes (Programme Specialist for ESD for 2030, UNESCO), about the ESD for 2030 country initiatives. Subsequently Mr. Menno Wierdsma, (practor Sustainable Thinking, Sustainable Acting at the T-VET institution Friesland College), shared his thoughts on how to achieve transformative learning environments in the region.

An open space session centred around topics brought up by different RCEs allowed for discussion in small and flexible groups about the concrete actions that could be taken as a network to further advance these ideas and goals. Participants embarked on another field trip, to the Biosintrum in Oosterwolde, where they were warmly welcomed by the director Ms. Petra Boersma. The Biosintrum is a largely bio-based multi-purpose educational and co-working centre in the rural area of Friesland. Having a change in perspective and the open fields around them, participants took time to reflect on core values as an RCE network and to answer the question ‘why we are a network in the first place?’. After some deliberations it was agreed upon the following four: Respect, Caring, Benevolence and Cooperation.

A plenary session followed, to present the outcomes of the open space session and to discuss and identify concrete action points for the future. Among the outcomes were plans to create working groups around the topics of Pedagogies for ESD and of research-based evaluations of RCE actions or the establishment of an ‘Atlantic Arc’-network of RCEs along the Atlantic coast.

Driving to Sneek to the T-VET institute Friese Poort, participants ended the day with another delicious meal based on the ‘Dutch Cuisine’ at the student-restaurant KIEM. Just as the day before, this dinner was concluded with a quick trip into the kitchen where there was a chance to speak to some of the students about their views on sustainability and their plans for their future. These moments of contact with students, as well as the input from students related with RCE Fryslân who attended the whole conference, made the insights and experiences of this RCE Meeting even richer than they already were.

The Meeting ended on Thursday morning with an informal trip to the UNESCO-heritage Wadden Sea area, where participants learned about the cultural heritage of the region.

Please see the event page for further details from the event, including presentations.

The Global RCE Service Centre would like to thank the team at RCE Fryslân for their outstanding contributions and efforts organising a successful Europe Regional Meeting, and to all participants for their active participation and contributions.

(Photo credits: Jennie Qiu (top right) and Miki Konishi (bottom left))