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Interview for the STEP blog - Ketevan Kochladze, Georgia

Youth and Environment Europe (YEE) Member Organisations Officer

How do you, as an individual, get involved in the life of your community?

For me activism begins from 1997 when I started learning in Borjomi Public school. In my small hometown we have our own magazine and TV channel, I began volunteering in newspaper ,,Rainbow” for schoolchildren. With such a colourful name, the newsletter was all black and white and only two pages. It was published once per month and was presented in all the city’s schools for each pupil and teacher. There was no internet and mobile phones at all in my city. I liked to write and I decided to send them letters and then it began. From 2002 – 2005 I was promoting student councils, school community partnership and volunteering through IFES Georgia civil education project (founded by USAID). For this project I was elected as a young leader from my region and after finishing the project I was awarded as a young leader in Georgia.  From 2005 I began interested in Environmental studies; I become an active member of the eco-club in my school.

From 2013 I began volunteering in Georgia Youth Eco Movement.

For sure I was actively involved in Georgia Youth Eco Movement and for now I am Vice president. I was not in the capital city were our office is located so I began online environmental activism using social media. Within these years I developed data visualizations skills and how to make more effective visualisation for attracting more attention. I was an active traveller and hiker and where I was not hiking I was elected as a forum admin in the web platform.

From a local level activist I became an international level activist.

In 2014 as a representative of SAEM I attended a project co-organised by YEE - training Course "Step UP! Ensuring Quality in Project Management". I have participated in several very successful projects of YEE: trainings, youth exchanges and YEE Annual Meetings. For example: I was a group leader at the youth exchange “Three Rs for the Environment” in Moldova in 2015, participant at the training course "Give international dimension to your projects" (July 2015, Czech Republic), training course “Be(e) the Change” and YEE Annual Meetings 2014, 2015, 2016 (where I was elected as one of YEE’s Executive Board Members).

I started to learn about European democracy processes and I agree with Macticom’s CEO David Lee’s saying that "Without information democracy doesn’t work". In 2016 I got informed by Corporation and Development Network of Eastern Europe to participate in the Green European Foundations Project - Test for the upcoming Online Course for Green Activists. I am actively involved to test a stimulating learning environment, which is providing participants with an understanding of the EU and its institutions, insights into green political movement and an opportunity to discover ways to be part of a European network of activists.

Which environmental topic interests you the most and in which way(s) do you take action for it?

For me the most interesting topics are: water and environment, water engineering and management, water and environmental quality , using modern technologies for water resource management. I have been working in a Water Treatment Company as a Quality Manager for almost four year and I organize several international conferences, seminars and meeting about information technologies and environmental studies.

We are living in an era of challenges, keeping balance with humanity rational usage of natural resources - environment and modern technologies, getting the right information and public participation data are key topics of interests.

Without communication, information technologies and online participation in decision making processes, democracy doesn’t work.

Are you familiar with the topic of e-participation? For which reason(s) would you see e-participation useful for young people?

The challenge is not to introduce Digital Technologies to public administrations; it is to integrate their use into public sector modernization efforts – from the recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies.

For me E- participation becomes more and more actual, as today’s society is openly discussing the data transparency and information war. Reflection is one of the most efficient ways to get needed results. E-activism, for me, is dissemination of information, E-platforms giving chance for easy online decision making processes and for sure easy online public consultations. Is there another aspect of data transparency and more open accessibility to public information?  Should we, for now, maybe advocate for getting public information?

We are living in an information era. The STEP project addresses the need of public organisations to effectively open their decision-making procedures that have an environmental impact to young people. For me the STEP Project = Democracy and Youth Participation In decision making processes.