© ASPnet

UNESCO Cross Cutting Project

The Great Volga River Route (GVRR), “Uniting the Seas (Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas) in favour of World Heritage Education for Sustainable Development”

  • Education is the foundation for sustainable development.
  • World Heritage sites are considered to be of “outstanding universal value”.
  • ASPnet schools are “navigators for peace” and agents for positive change.


In the Middle Ages, waterways were most important for the interaction of civilizations, especially where territories were divided by hard-to-traverse forests and steppes and populated by fierce nomads. The Great Volga Route was a river transport artery of Eastern Europe, connecting the basins of the Baltic, Caspian, and Black Seas.

Today the Great Volga Route is a region with rich cultural and natural heritage.  The Volga River is the longest river in Europe.  It is considered to be the life blood of Russia. Over 40 per cent of Russia's people live near it and its tributaries and half of Russia's farmers live and farm near the Volga. Over half of Russia's industry is located within its drainage. The river has suffered from the building of hydroelectric dams and industrial construction. The Volga basin has also been subjected to an enormous strain as a result of accelerated industrialization and urbanization during recent decades.

Therefore, urgent action is required at all levels, in particular awareness-raising, mobilization and involvement of young people through improved quality education.  While the Volga basin is going through an economical crisis, the river as a symbol for connecting people can become the starting point for renewed action. Using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), modern means of connecting people, UNESCO is keen to contribute to this process and reinforce contacts along the former trading routes, the “Great Volga River Route” and the states bordering the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas. The Great Volga River Route Project will focus on its first stage on the 18 countries bordering the Volga river and the Baltic, Caspian, and Black Seas.


This project was approved as an ICT (Information Communication Technologie) cross-cutting project during the 32nd UNESCO General Conference and aims to:

  • address issues and provide solutions to the UN Millennium Development Goals;
  • serve as a follow-up initiative to the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002;
  • serve as a follow-up to the final recommendations and documents of the World Heritage Youth Forum, which was held in Velikie Novgorod (Russian Federation) in 2002;
  • serve as a concrete contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014);
  • explore further and develop the effective use of ICTs to improve quality education.

The project will be implemented within the framework of the Young People’s Participation in the Preservation and Promotion of World Heritage Special Project and through the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). The UNESCO “World Heritage in Young Hands” Educational Resource Kit and the Education for Sustainable Development information briefs will serve as the key reference materials for the project.

Overall goal

  • Use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to support and link young people engaged in the preservation and promotion of World Heritage and Biosphere sites and Sustainable Development issues among countries located in the area along the Volga river and on the banks of the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas.
  • Foster cross-cultural communication and dialogue among young people of different countries on World Heritage, Biosphere and Sustainable Development issues, and involve young people in the promotion of the World Heritage, Biosphere and sustainable development.
  • Enhance World Heritage Education and Education for Sustainable Development.

Project objectives

  • Experiment the use of ICTs to enhance the learning process and facilite communication between participating schools in the Project, along the Volga river, and on the banks of the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas.
  • Develop new educational approaches, resources and materials for mobilizing young people to take action and support Sustainable Development, Education for All and World Heritage (using knowledge, skills and attitudes to “make a difference”).
  • Reinforce a network of ASPnet schools along the Volga River, and on the banks of the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas in order to work on issues related to sustainable development and linked to World Heritage and Biosphere sites.
  • Ensure frequent communication and exchanges to promote an intercultural dialogue and cooperation amongst young people in schools in the countries involved in the Project.
  • Ensure equal participation of girls and boys in the project.

Project outcomes

  • Effective network of ASPnet secondary schools (involving students aged 14-16 years old) involved in developing educational approaches and materials on Sustainable Development and World Heritage.
  •  A common information web portal and systematic of exchange of information created; including setting up of a website by each participating school, electronic chat forums as well as provision of ICTs and training to participating schools not equipped with ICTs.
  • Information channels set up for sharing results, experiences, good practices, such as newsletter and bulletins using both traditional and modern electronic channels.
  • Innovative educational materials (including CD ROMS) and methods developed to sensitize and mobilize youth from various countries to the process of exploration of the cultural and natural heritage in support of sustainable development of the Great Volga River Route.
  • Sustainable Development issues included throughout the curriculum both in school and out-of-school activities.
  • Gender and equity issues discussed

Project implementation modalities

The 18 countries located along the Volga River and on the banks of the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas will be invited to select UNESCO ASPnet Schools in accordance with the annexed School Selection Criteria at the level of secondary education to take part in this new Flagship Project. Participating schools (5 to 10 in each country) will select both cultural, natural and mixed World Heritage sites as well as other appropriate sites in their vicinities for in-depth study and reflection on how their preservation and promotion can promote sustainable development. Schools in different countries will be twinned in order to enhance the exchange of views and proposals and with a view to furthering an intercultural dialogue on specific study topics of interest.

Source: www03.edu.fi/oppimateriaalit/ihmisenamaailmassa/docs/gvrr.doc


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