Many young people in Central and Eastern Europe are not aware of the climate impact of their way of life and do not understand the need for urgent action in this direction. Whereas awareness of climate change as a visible worldwide problem is high among the young people (83%), the majority of them lack experience in personal engagement on the topic. Only about a quarter of the young people feel personally very concerned about climate change.
A big portion of them are not aware of any action or initiative addressing climate change in their country (76%) but are eager to take action and mostly share the view that their example can change the attitudes of people. According to the conclusions of the sociological survey conducted in four countries of Central and Eastern Europe only 19% of the young respondents can be described as “active” on the topic of climate change.
Click here for the Sociological Survey Report conducted in the framework of the Climate Heroes project
AND HERE WWF INTERVENES WITH AN INTERESTING INITIATIVE ...
The Climate Heroes project works with young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and aims to raise awareness of the climate crisis and the consequences of wasteful consumption locally and globally. The project trained around 120 young people from Central and Eastern Europe with the ambition to turn them into climate leaders of their societies. The goal was for those young leaders to become Ambassadors of our Planet and to inspire their peers around the world to live in a way that is responsible to both people and nature. This is achieved by the development and implementation of a Youth Empowerment and Leadership Skills Building Program, including workshops for green solutions, climate-friendly lifestyles, media, policy advocacy, and many others. The experience and lessons learnt from the trainings held in the project were developed into a guide to help young people become active citizens that have the knowledge and the experience to make a real change in the society.
Click here for the guide "How to become a climate hero?'
The idea is for the youth to launch dozens of climate initiatives, which in turn will involve even more of their peers, representatives of local communities and even decision-makers. Based on the acquired knowledge and the experience from these training sessions, the young people have started their own green initiatives which were presented at national events in each partner country where the best initiatives were selected and awarded. The winners participated in Regional Forums where they could share their work with other young people from the partnering countries and had the opportunity to exchange experiences.
Click here to watch a series of videos produced in the framework of the Climate Heroes project
FIRST ROUND (2021)
The search for Climate Heroes began in the spring of 2021, and as a result, 49 young people from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and the Czech Republic went through the educational program of the Climate Heroes project. Joining forces, they launched in total 20 initiatives, the 12 most impactful tackling climate change initiatives were presented during a regional forum hosted by WWF-Bulgaria in the autumn of 2021. During the event, the participants presented their initiatives and exchanged experiences on pressing environmental cases.
Names of all Initiatives of the Regional Forum 2021
The Sisters in Action initiative aims to promote a number of environmental issues and propose solutions through responsible consumption. Its creators prepare videos on environmental topics and publish them on YouTube. In addition, they conduct seminars and lectures in schools with their own environmental programs, striving to inspire young people to live sustainably.
Indigos focuses on the Amazon, the deforestation of which has a negative effect on both local people and the entire planet. The initiative was born after its creators received a letter from a man living in the Amazon rainforest describing their destruction. Indigos aims to create an independent digital space to raise awareness on this topic.
VEDU clothing started after its creator for a long time could not find clothes that both fit her well and are made responsibly. That's why she started learning to sew. Today, using discarded or already purchased clothes, she creates elegant new clothes. And if she has to buy new fabrics, she makes sure they have the necessary certificates for responsible production.
Biogiants aims to inform young people in Serbia on how climate change affects biodiversity and why animals and plants are important to us. The creators want to start a community of peers involved in this problem. That's why they talk about it a lot in their accounts on various social networks and have even launched a thematic podcast on Instagram.
Solar shelter strives to minimize the amount of harmful emissions emitted by the energy sector. Its creators equip shelters for abandoned animals in Serbia with special panels made by them out of recycled cans. They not only improve the quality of life of their residents, but also reduce the energy costs of shelters. The initiative maintains an Instagram account aimed at those interested in renewable energy topics.
Community fridge seeks to limit the effects of food and textile waste on climate change. To this end, the creators of the initiative buy, decorate and place refrigerators and wardrobes in public places, where everyone can store unnecessary food or clothes. Each uneaten portion is composted, and the initiative develops a donor culture in their society.
The Extreme Weather Initiative was created to raise awareness on the effects of climate change. Its creators have followed their mission and after in-depth research among the public, launched a series of seminars, surveys, school events, articles and even make short documentaries and feature films on natural subjects.
"Romanians on a pedal!" Is an initiative that promotes cycling instead of cars, which both alleviates heavy traffic and improves air quality. In addition to launching a campaign to convince citizens of the benefits of this type of transport, its creators are in communication with local authorities in three cities (Bucharest, Sibiu and Buftea) on the construction and expansion of cycling infrastructure. They hope the idea will gradually cover other cities in the country as well.
Save the Dniester River initiative draws attention to the pollution of Moldova's main source of drinking water. Its creator seeks to unite public opinion in the need to put pressure on local authorities to build a river treatment plant. To this end, she has developed media partnerships, set up social media groups, organized round tables at the local level, initiated a petition and even prepared a film on the importance of the Dniester for local people.
Green Convo - the lack of ecological culture among the general public in our country provoked Hristina Kasapcheva to launch her initiative. Green Convo disseminates information on the subject, as well as relevant solutions that we can all incorporate into our lives in the form of small steps in everyday life. It includes round tables, open discussions, workshops and do-it-yourself eco-seminars. For now, the events are being held in Pazardzhik and Burgas, and Hristina hopes to gradually cover other cities as well.
"First Steps" is a short film by Katina Staleva, which raises a series of interesting questions in the field of ecology. The tape compares the life we live, and all the negative consequences of it, with the life we could live. The message is simple - "Take the first steps" for a better, cleaner and greener world. And its goal is to encourage all of us not to waste time, but to start the change today.
The seminar "The First Step" was inspired by Ivaylo Iliev and Rusana Toncheva. Experts and environmentalists from all over the country took part in it. The seminar aimed to provide answers to pressing questions, as well as to raise the level of awareness of young people in our country about the challenges related to the Black Sea coast and biodiversity in the region. And for the youngest participants, there were games that encourage creative thinking and teamwork.
Among all the presented initiatives an international jury selected three of them who were awarded as most impactful initiatives: “VEDU clothing”, “Romanians on a pedal”, and “Community Fridge”. The young people who created them received certificates and were awarded with video equipment so that they could continue to further develop their skills and motivate others with their actions.
SECOND ROUND (2022)
The work of the new Climate Heroes project continued in 2022 with its second stage. It fulfilled its ambition to inspire 64 more climate heroes between the ages of 15 and 24 who participated in the second round of trainings in the four partnering countries – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia. National events were held in all of the countries in the spring of 2022 and the most impactful youth initiatives were chosen to continue their participation at the Regional Forum on 2 July 2022 in Brno, Czech Republic. The regional event brought together 33 creative young environmentalists who presented 11 initiatives in total. They had the unique opportunity to share their powerful ideas and meet with like-minded peers face-to-face in order to share experiences and get inspired for new actions.
- The “Sea Frame” initiative aimed to reach out to people on the important topic of sea conservation through an art installation - a photo frame placed on the coast of town Pomorie on the Black sea coast of Bulgaria. The frame was created from waste materials collected from the coastline (logs, boards, plastics, cans, bottles, and others) aiming to attract people’s attention to problems like illegal fishing, sea pollution and the consequences of climate change on our oceans. It used the power of the visual art to engage passers-by and inform them.
- “Food for Earth” is an initiative that tackles a very important and often underestimated problem: soil degradation. Through this initiative of building composts (youth demonstration working recycling system for bio waste) in schools Elena wants to raise awareness in youth by educating and providing them with a simple solution on how to contribute to the health of our planet. Educational and outreach activities have been carried out in her school that involved even the youngest students. For this project she received additional funding from Sofia municipality and will continue to develop it further.
- “We can Do It” is the name of the initiative, provoked by the dimension of the plastic pollution in Romania and the fact that young people are not getting involved enough in preventing it. The initiative involved conducting a workshop, designed especially for teenagers with the goal to give them knowledge on important topics such as: what recycling implies, how to do it in a correct way and how to reduce personal waste. And all of this was done by engaging with the artistic side of the young people. Through this initiative youths could share, exchange knowledge and engage with other peers, all for the well-being of nature.
- “Together4Planet” is concerned about the loss of biodiversity and habitats. This initiative aimed to create an awareness campaign about our broken relationship with nature and its consequences: melting icebergs, drought, forests burning, species extinction. It also involved the development from scratch of a dedicated website for the online education campaign and the production of videos. The ultimate aim of this project is to make people understand these serious problems and start changing their habits step by step, but also become “voices” who empower their peers.
- “Sustainable Food Revolution” is an initiative that focuses on the negative impact our feeding habits hold on climate. In this project the young people approached themes like extensive agriculture, meat processing industry and food waste, all in the context of influencing climate changes. They received a 10.000 euro grant from an entity outside the project, to create an educational centre aimed to prove an introduction to the science of climate change. The centre will be active starting fall 2022.
- “GenEco” is the initiative that focuses on fighting the misinformation and the indifference on climate change in Serbia targeting young people on social media via TikTok, Instagram, Discord. This strong science-based campaign reached more than 120 000 people altogether and will continue to evolve.
- “EcoHub” is an initiative that seeks to reduce the environmental footprint of people by changing their everyday habits. For this purpose a guide was written with information and advice covering many important topics such as zero waste, reuse, reduce, recycling, mobility, composting, nutrition, energy efficiency. The guide is addressed to young people and will reach them via workshops, social media campaigns, podcasts and other channels.
- “Kompostin” addresses the problems of food waste and climate change through actions for promoting composting. This initiative is focused mainly on encouraging people to incorporate home composting into their daily routines. In order to do that, an awareness raising campaign in social media was carried out. The creators of the initiative started composting in their backyards. The project also involved an organic garden where the ready compost was utilized.
- “Eko stopovačka” is the great initiative that designed an eco-tracking game in order to raise awareness on climate and environmental issues in a fun and creative way. It was targeted at teenagers and included topics such as City Adaptation, Deforestation, Ocean Pollution, Sustainable Food Production and Veganism, Fast Fashion, Waste Management and Zero Waste, Waste of Drinking Water, Ecological and Carbon Footprint. The game is designed with ciphers that tell the participants where to find the next stop with information which is accessible via QR codes.
- “Eko nádych pre mladých” is addressing the problem of air pollution around schools where students spend most of their time. This initiative also draws attention to the importance of biodiversity in the urban environment. Four young people re-designed the yard in their school with the help of their peers and built sustainable flowerbeds to help raise awareness about the link between humans and nature and improve the school environment.
- “Eco-gym” is a great achievement of a young person from the Czech Republic who succeeded in building a bike-charger that can charge a mobile phone and was installed in the school gym. This initiative tackles the issue of energy self-sufficiency and sustainable energy use. By pedaling to obtain electricity this project shows that it is possible to use alternative options to help save the environment and stop climate change.
The winners at the Regional Forum 2022 whose initiatives received the award of the international jury were: “Eco-gym”, “Eko nádych pre mladých” and “We can Do It”. However, all the initiatives are very interesting and have high potential for further development. WWF is grateful to have helped and inspired these young people for their amazing projects.
HOW DO WE CONTINUE?
Although the Climate Heroes project ends on 30 September 2022, WWF will continue this work to engage more young people in the fight against climate change. Everything that was achieved in this project will serve as an example and inspiration for others to start out new initiatives and climate actions.
As for our Climate Heroes from the project – many of them have already continued with even more ambitious and impactful projects. We are proud of them!
PROJECT PARTNERS AND THEIR PROJECT LANDING PAGES
The Climate Heroes project is implemented by WWF-Bulgaria, WWF-Romania, WWF Adria-Serbia, the United Nations Association in Bulgaria and the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation.
- United Nations Association of Bulgaria
- Nadace Partnerstvi (Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation)
For more information:
Daniela Gradinarska, Project manager of Climate Heroes email@example.com
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
The opinions put forward on this website are the sole responsibility of the WWF and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).