Smells like Green Spirit

author: Mariam Khuroshvili  26-10-2020

Our little group has always been
And always will until the end

© Nirvana

 

Towards Environmental and Climate Resilience

December 11, 2019 appears to be a cutting-edge date, when the European Commission first presented the European Green Deal strategy.[1] The sustainable perspectives, preservation, biodiversity, energy efficiency and reduction of the emission become new priorities on the EU level and beyond. Thus, a partnership that greens – is one of the major objectives outlined in the strategic document “Beyond 2020- Reinforcing Resilience- an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all.” The later represents a main policy framework between the European Union and Eastern Partnership. To achieve the defined milestones, supporting the local as well as the regional initiatives are key instruments to monitor the outcomes of the EU Assistance on the regional level. The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility Fellowship represents one of such need-driven action that provides the assistance for the emerging professionals to contribute to their countries and therefore, help the EU in reaching the defined regional deliverables.

“Best Mates” of the Region

Nothing is easy, including the relation among the 6 Eastern Partnership countries on the political level. The Political turbulences, economic instability, local conflicts and internationally disputed territories - can be considered as the variables applying to almost all states involved. However, encouraging the people to people contacts and supporting youth initiatives are the most feasible instruments bringing tangible benefits for all stakeholders involved. Despite some under-water tensions across the region, water, more precisely – the Black Sea seems to be the aspect connecting two allies - Georgia and Ukraine. Accordingly, it was predictable that the project covering two the most prioritized topics – youth and environment implemented in Georgia and Ukraine would have been a success.

And then, we got started!

The idea of the regional project More Influence of Youth on the Local Environmental Agenda in Georgia and Ukraine was brainstormed at the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility Fellows’ annual meeting in Brussels. Among 12 youth initiatives, we managed to be one out of two finalists and receive the financial support by the EU-Funded Project: Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility Regional Actions: Creating Synergies and Integration in Eastern Neighborhood Partners Countries. Since January 2020 the project implemented research, educational, civic engagement, community outreach and awareness-raising activities. We reached more than 120 young people in the following Georgian and Ukrainian cities - Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Kyiv, Lviv and Krivyi Rig.

Through the number of instruments, such as research, online webinars, social media campaigns, collaborative round-tables, and environmental campaigns, we raised the awareness of youth in respect of the local environmental agenda, elaborated a budget monitoring and policy research paper for all target municipalities, and enhanced dialogue between youth and the local authorities through creating communication platforms and roundtables. As a result, we developed environmental initiatives, organized environmental campaigns and assisted young activists to exchange their ideas with the local authorities.

Two high-level officials - H.E. Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia and H.E. Arad Benkoe, former Austrian Ambassador to Georgia actively engaged in the regional project, along with the EU Delegation representatives, local researchers, experts and trainers, EaP European School students, Young European Ambassadors, researchers, local students and environmental enthusiasts.

It’s up to YOUth to Change

You may purchase medical procedures to look young, however you will never buy neither enthusiasm nor spirit to be the one. Active young people are the main target audience as well as the most valuable assets to bring a social change. The project involved young people in almost all phases and milestones, such as monitoring local municipality budget execution and program implementation. As a result, we improved the advocacy capacity and skills of young activists, raised public awareness of local environmental issues, and promoted youth-led initiatives and campaigns.

To illustrate the achievements in facts and figures, the regional project delivered the following tangible results:

  • Raised awareness of 120 young people in respect of environmental issues through 2-week online summer school: To Be or not to be ECO-logical,
  • Elaborated the budget monitoring and policy research paper focused on environmental policy and youth engagement for all target municipalities; 
  • Developed youth environmental initiatives and shared with the local authorities;
  • Enhanced the dialogue between youth and the local authorities through 4 Collaborative roundtables organized in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Kyiv and Lviv;
  • Raised awareness of the broader public though the social media campaign #beecological run by project beneficiaries;
  • Conducted Environmental field visits through organizing cleanup and greenery activities in Kareli, Batumi, Kyiv and Lviv;
  • Empowered project beneficiaries through establishing a communication platform for sharing, planning and implementing new initiatives;
  • Created a platform for the Regional-level collaboration between Georgian and Ukrainian participants through high-level regional project launch and two regional webinars;
  • Increased a positive image of the European Union through planting “EU trees” at Batumi Central Park. [2]

To take the later project’s achievements into account, youth regional initiatives should be supported more actively and boldly. Young people may lack years of working experience at the sector, however, we have a talent, enthusiasm and drive to introduce creative perspectives to change the current trend. The more youth green initiatives receive ambitious support, the more predictable the future of the world will be. The future is ours and it has to be green! It is up to YOUth to change.  

[1] European Green Deal, https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/green-deal/

[2] Due to the COVID-related restrictions, the project activities are still running in Ukraine

 

 Acknowledgment

Mariam Khuroshvili – Active mentor of Georgian Young European Ambassadors; former Young European Ambassador in 2017-2020 years. Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility Fellow since 2017 and current Regional Project Coordinator for the EU-funded Project “More Influence of Youth on the Local Environmental Agenda in Georgia and Ukraine.”

Mariam Khuroshvili