Youth against climate change at a regional level with support of EU and CENN
CENN, EU, youth and climate change
Ecologically clean and safe power in open areas for free
If you find yourself in the central streets, squares or in an area near the markets in the Georgian towns of Chiatura, Tkibuli or Zestaponi, you’ll be able to charge your phone for free with an ecologically safe renewable energy: young people in Tkibuli and Chiatura at the Bulachauri Green Center came up with the idea of installing solar arrays in crowded areas.
Gvantsa Gaprindashvili is a young environment activist from the town of Chiatura. She grew up in the vicinity of the River Kvirila, polluted by manganese drainage.
“I was very small when I realized that the river and air of my town weren’t supposed to be black. At twelve, I already knew what I wanted to do,’’ Gvantsa says.
Gvantsa is very concerned that the environment in her hometown is heavily polluted by open quarrying practiced in the region.
“Manganese is mined in our region and processed in an unsafe way. Pits are left open; no further re-cultivation of the ground is done. So many environmental problems follow. My friends and I, in collaboration with the Chiatura municipality city hall, have been combating these problems for years. We clean various areas. We have already re-cultivated seven hectares of land in total.”
The optimistic seventeen year old found out about an open contest held by CENN and funded by the EU as part of the “Georgia Climate Program”. Gvantsa saw that it was a chance to change something in her hometown and decided to take part.
CENN selected seven other participants with Gvantsa from the Imereti region. After training, they received an assigment — present an idea on how to combat climate change or adapt to it.
“We came up with an idea to install phone chargers that could function through solar energy. We had two goals: to get ecologically clean power out of renewable resources and raise people’s awareness about climate change. We called our project ‘Helio Chargers’ and submitted it,’’ Gvantsa says.
The idea was approved and with EU funding and the help of the local government, helio chargers were installed in the towns of Chiatura, Tkibuli and Zestaponi.
Sopio Khvedelidze, 18, resident of Chiatura, also had a hand in the project. Sopio is very happy to see that the chargers lived up to their promise:
“Once the chargers were installed, people immediately started charging their smartphones and thanked us. We provided them with information about climate change, about making changes and what can result. They were happy to contribute even a little to combating climate change.’’
Climate change camp at Bulachauri Green Center
With EU funding, CENN has been carrying out the GEO-CAP program for already two years. The project is aimed at supporting public involvement in the climate change program. CENN is undertaking the project in four Georgian regions – Guria, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kakheti, in cooperation with local organizations KRDF, ACU, YPU and RLS-ADA.
As part of the Climate Program, the Bulachauri Green Center hosted women and young people from four target regions of Georgia in April 2022.
CENN selected nineteen participants of the camp with its local partners KRDF, ACU, YPU and RLS-ADA
Climate change and its causes, climate change mitigation and efficient adaptation, effective management of water resources and energy efficiency, human rights-based approach, advocacy and lobbying – these were the topics the young environmentalists were provided training in for a week.
After the camp was over, many ideas against climate change were conceived an carried out in ten cities of Georgia.
Youth initiatives for overcoming climate change in home regions
Nineteen year old Ana Asatiani also came up with an idea to install changers with solar batteries. Thanks to her idea, it is already possible to charge smartphones using solar power in the central park of the town of Ambrolauri.
“Local residents and tourists gather at the Ambrolauri park. The youth especially liked my idea and continue using the chargers today,’’ says Ana. In collaboration with the local project coordinator, she organized an education meeting in the Eco Hub of CENN and provided schoolchildren from the Racha region with knowledge she received in the camp regarding climate change.
When presenting the project idea, raising public awareness was a priority for the participants selected in Kakheti.
Akhmeta resident Ekaterine Mebagishvili, 21, thinks that children should begin caring about the environment at an early age. For this reason, Ekaterine conducted training courses with five project participants from Akhmeta and Gurjaani for primary and high-school students. The courses covered climate change, efficient management of water resources and renewable energy.
“We provide the children with explanations on what climate change is and how they can promote for stopping this process. We teach them that when we do not need power, we should turn it off and save it. We explained how harmful plastic is and gave them multi-use bottles. I have to meet with students for several projects. I am very happy to see them holding glass bottles,’’ Ekaterine says.
The team from the Guria region also decided to conduct training courses for increasing public awareness. Kristine Salukvadze was one of the authors of the project carried out with GEO-CAP financial support in Ozurgeti.
“The experience we received in the CENN camp helped us write a successful project and gain funding,’’ Kristine says.
Kristine thinks that the population’s awareness of climate change threats is just beginning. This is why, with her team members, she decided to share their experience with youth and have six schools in Ozurgeti engage in environmental activities.
After conducting training courses on climate change, the participants from Ozurgeti declared a contest called “Say No to Plastic”. The school which collected the most plastic bottles and sent them to a recycling company was awarded a 1500GEL voucher to buy electronic appliances.
Young environmentalists’ struggle for a better environment
The young environmentalists have not finished their struggle against climate change. Great goals are still ahead.
Gvantsa and Sopio are trying to an environmental NGO in Chiatura with their friends.
“We think that we’ll see more possibilities to help our region,’’ Gvantsa says.
With experience gained at the CENN camp, Gvantsa and her friends saw ways to embody their ideas:
“We were taught how to write a project, how to raise funds and so on.’’
Gvantsa and Sopio were schoolchildren when they participated in the EU-funded project “Georgia’s Climate Program.” Now they are first-year students and Gvantsa studies at the faculty of ecology, while Sopio studies law.
“I want to use my knowledge of law in raising public awareness,’’ Sopio says.
CENN, EU, youth and climate change