Guardians of the Coast

The sea’s future in the eyes of younger generations.
With Guardians of the Coast, we develop a new, farsighted campaign to protect the marine environment and the coastlines.

The results

  • Schools in the program
  • Students involved
  • Teachers involved
  • Km of coastline adopted

Under the patronage of:

Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Sicurezza Energetica – MASE
Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti – Mit


Institutional partnership:

Coast Guard

Scientific partners:

Genoa Aquarium
S. Teresa Marine Environment Research Centre of ENEA (National Agency for
New Technologies, Energy, and Sustainable Economic Development)
Genoa Aquarium Foundation Onlus
OLPA (Ligurian Marine Observatory for Fisheries and the Environment)

Technical partners:

Key Technologies
School of Robotics

Sponsored by:

Europ Assistance
Snam Foundation

Website of the project:

THE CHALLENGE: pollution alert in the Mediterranean Sea

The health of the Mediterranean Sea and its coastal regions is increasingly under threat from pollution caused by plastics and marine debris.
This issue has a direct impact on people’s quality of life, on tourism, on the economy and it affects everyone, considering that approximately 80% of all marine debris originates from the mainland.
With this in mind, raising people’s awareness on their ability to intervene locally becomes a priority, all the more so when younger generations are involved, given their great capability to mobilise.
Nonetheless, young people’s interest in environmental and sustainability issues and the commitment of many to put themselves on the line, remain highly underutilised.
To harness this energy, mobilising collective awareness and promoting ethical ways to active citizenship, requires reliable sources of information and communication on environmental issues using media channels that are most accessible to younger people; and starting with the school curriculum.
To actively include them as part of this change, is to promote a shared vision of engagement, providing them with real experiences to identify issues and find solutions together.

THE GOAL: students and teachers to become environmental guardians

The objective of the project — which stems from the success and development of the En route to a bluer sea dissemination programme — is to educate young people and the community at large about the uniqueness and vulnerability of the Italian coastline’s natural heritage, by promoting awareness and by fighting pollution along the coast, the beaches and at sea.

OUR PROJECT: citizen science, an opportunity to include environmental education in Italian schools

Guardians of the Coast comprises upper secondary school students and teachers from all over Italy who joined the environmental education programme promoted by the Costa Crociere Foundation and was developed in collaboration with OLPA (Ligurian Marine Observatory for Environment and Fisheries), the Scuola di Robotica (School of Robotics) and ENEA (Saint Theresa National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development).

It is a citizen science project that is included in the school curriculum, in which a love of the sea, educational innovation and consideration to future generations converge, and which aims to train young students by getting them increasingly more involved in the protection of the marine environment.In Italy there are about 7500 kilometres of uninhabited coastline that are host to natural habitats of extraordinary diversity and organisms that need to be protected, defended and safeguarded.
The schools participating in the project adopt a stretch of Italian coastline to monitor, developing a pathway that combines online and classroom training with field trips.
The teachers and students involved in the project follow an online training programme with educational content created ad hoc in the guise of webcasts, lecture notes and video tutorials, while also obtaining specific training on topics such as the Mediterranean marine environment, biodiversity, the protection of coastlines and the sea, climate change, introduced species, pollution and marine debris.
A dedicated app is also available for collecting scientific data in the field and to geolocate them by creating a virtual map of the surveys.

There are several environmental quality indicators to be taken into consideration during the monitoring activities carried out on the selected portion of coast. Thus, the entirety of information and images collected create a picture of the principal natural characteristics of the coastal environment and the socio-economic issues relating to the management of the coast and its resources.

Everything is developed based on the philosophy of citizen science, that is, through activities based on rigorous scientific criteria, but structured so as to be easily adopted and disseminated to an audience of laypersons.
The Guardians’ observations in the area have already made possible the collection of an impressive amount of scientific data and the results of this ongoing tracking, signed-off by the support of a scientific committee, are summarised in the annual report alongside thematic maps describing the state of the Italian coastline as seen from the perspective of passionate young people.
From June 2020, the project was extended to include primary and lower secondary schools, making interactive digital tools available to teachers, for allowing their classes to take part in the dedicated environment learning project focussing on the Mediterranean. Together with CivicaMente, we created a section dedicated to Guardians of the Coast on the free learning platform,, with a ready-to-use teacher training and lesson plan monography for school children between the ages of 8–11 (using game-learning methods such as cartoons and digital games) and pre-teens 11–13 years, respectively (with quizzes and a double interview for stimulating reflection on the topics and open questions for encouraging student discussion).

The results
Schools: 2,135
Students: 43,328
Teachers: 3,369

To learn how to look at and love the sea from an early age. With the eyes of the future.


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