Step up and Stand up | Local Climate Actions Supported by YEE

The final activity of the Imagining the Green Future project was a real triumph! In May 2021, we supported 7 local climate actions across Europe. How did it go? The participants of our IGF training courses did an amazing job in not only practicing the skills they learned but most importantly in empowering and mobilising young people in their local communities.

There is no better time to start taking climate action than now. At YEE we support local solutions to the global climate crisis and that’s why, after the online training course “Advocates for a Green Future”, we empowered 7 participants to act as local action coordinators and organise climate projects in their communities.

The 7 selected applicants received funds to organise their “Step up and Stand up!” local projects to raise environmental awareness in their homes, and to start working on environmental issues through mobilising other young people at the local level.

In May 2021 we supported 7 climate local actions in various locations across Europe:

“Climate is changing, are you?” / Serbia 

This educational workshop for youth happened on 27 May in Belgrade, Serbia. Organised by one of our member organisations, the Young Researchers of Serbia, and led by Aleksandra Sotirovic, Tijana Ljubenovic, and Marija Peric, The aim of this local action was to educate, inspire and move a group of young people in Serbia to start acting on the climate crisis.

A one-day workshop in nature gathered 15 students (aged 18-30 years old), to plan green actions in different parts of Belgrade and Serbian rural areas.

Objectives of the workshop were :

  • To encourage leadership activism in local communities;
  • To raise awareness about environment protection and sustainable development goals among young people (waste pollution, sustainable water management, and recycling);
  • To understand the importance of nature in fighting against climate change and pollution;
  • To build capacities of young people about writing projects;
  • To support networking among young people in order to advocate for a greener future.

In the first part of the workshop, participants listened to experts talking about environmental issues and challenges in the local community. In the second part, participants were divided into groups and each team developed its own idea of ​​how to solve a certain environmental problem. The main focus was on topics of environmental youth education, sustainable water management, waste cleaning, and recycling.

Most of the participants had similar ideas and recognized the same problems they face in Serbia. Participants were motivated to share experiences and ideas, which resulted in all objectives being achieved. “The main outcome of this local action is raising awareness among youth about environment and sustainability. Young people are motivated to start and organize a new local action. We were happy that teams created 3 project ideas that can be now put into practice” said the local action coordinator Alexandra.

“World Biodiversity Day Clean- Up” / Italy 

This inspiring beach clean-up action was organised by our partner association MOH in Bari, Italy. Thanks to this action, more than 50 people met on World Biodiversity Day, which happened on 22 May 2021, to clean up the city beach – and the results were truly impressive.

The main aim of this climate action was to involve the local community and encourage young people to take action to protect our beautiful environment and seas, on which our life depends. “The choice of World Biodiversity Day was not casual as we aimed at fostering a reflection about the importance of protecting our biodiversity which is more and more at stake,” explained Rosanna Bellomo, the clean-up coordinator.

The cleanup took place on the Santo Spirito pier in beautiful Bari and involved also two other local environmental actors, Vogliamo Santo Spirito Pulita and the Local Group of Greenpeace Bari. Together, the volunteers collected 84 kilos of plastic debris and 157 kilos of debris in total, and 245 plastic bottles. In addition, the action helps the organisers reach out to local young people and empower them to become more environmentally active.

The main objectives were:

  • to foster active citizenship and civic engagement,
  • to encourage young people to take actions for the environment,
  • to raise awareness about continuous biodiversity loss,
  • to better understand the impact of our choices on our environment’s health and foster a collective reflection about the plastic pollution issue.

Participants had the chance to learn about what biodiversity is and the constant loss we are facing nowadays. The local action succeeded in engaging people and raising awareness about biodiversity loss – at the end of the cleanup young people felt more empowered and willing to do more for the environment; participants and people just passing by had a chance to reflect on how much plastic we use in our lives.

The unexpected result was that a lot of youngsters asked to join the MOH – this local action helped organisers to get more visibility within the local community. “Another pleasant result is that we created a new partnership with a SUP amateur sports association, which will help by sea during our next cleanup,” said Rosanna. At the end of the cleanup, the action team executed a brand audit and collected data on the plastic bottles they found, which they shared with the #breakfreefromplastic movement.

“Ecolution” / Armenia 

Ecolution was an environmental education and awareness-raising project, focusing on improving the understanding and education connected to environmental issues that society and mother Earth are facing. There are plenty of environmental issues and challenges in Armenia today, such as mass pollution, bad management of water resources, unsustainable use of natural resources, food waste, pollution of Lake Sevan, etc., and all of these issues come from the unconscious actions of the inhabitants of the country.

This two-day Ecolution workshop was organised on 22 and 23 May 2021 in Gyumri, Armenia by the project team from the Youth Development Center of Armenia (YDC). “Our main aim was to improve the teaching and learning about environmental issues and challenges and provide essential, factual, and concrete information on the current environmental condition in Armenia and outside of Armenia as well, and create the will and commitment among the participants that are needed to preserve and protect life on Earth” explained the local project coordinator, Meri Vanesyan.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To develop the general understanding and sense of environmental awareness and its main challenges,
  • To develop the required curiosity and capability among the participants for accepting the environmental issues through non-formal educational methods,
  • To help the participants in realizing the importance of taking proper steps to solve environmental problems and inspiring them to start making changes in their communities-

The workshop tackled the issue of unawareness of people connected to this topic, the mass pollution that our country is facing, the loss of animal and plant species as well as water and energy waste. All of these issues are pretty obvious in Armenia and people simply aren’t aware of them. However, the new generation is ready to stand up and play their role in creating a better place for leaving.

The project included 23 participants of different ages and backgrounds. The workshop had sparked an interest particularly amongst youngsters, hence, the participants were fairly younger. The youngest participant was 15 years old and the oldest one – 25 years old.

“We consider the main achievement of the project the great motivation that the participants gained after the local action,” said Meri. All participants had already created some ideas and are very excited to start leading a more sustainable life. This is what we were aiming for and this is one of the main goals that our team considers achieved.

“Separating waste for the green future” / Georgia 

We also supported the environmental and waste management youth workshops in Georgia, organised by our member organisation Umbrella.

Considering the current situation in Georgia, the Umbrella project team came up with an idea to empower regional youth centers and help them to develop more sustainable and eco-friendly approaches. The main aim was to involve young people from the youth centers in taking climate action by introducing them to effective waste recycling actions.

The objectives of the action were:

  • To equip local young leaders/youth workers with competencies related to waste literacy and global warming actions,
  • To provide sufficient waste separation infrastructure (waste separation bags and bins) to the youth centers,
  • To connect youth centers with recycling companies,
  • To implement youth-led information raising campaign in the community,
  • To promote environmentally friendly approach/policy examples at youth centers.

Through this action, the organisers were able to provide recycling infrastructure for selected Georgian youth centers. The participants built new bins themselves before they attended workshops on waste literacy. In total, there have been 3 workshops at different locations during which 53 participants developed the competencies on waste separation, exploring what is the difference between waste and garbage, and how they can identify different types of plastics and paper. Participants have realised what kind of impact proper waste separation can have on their everyday life and climate change. “They started thinking about their individual attitude and developed action plans on how they could contribute and share useful information among youngsters. In the end, they came up with some interesting ideas!”, said Ani Gabedava, the local action coordinator.

The workshops were followed by a clean-up event. As a result, participants deepened their competencies in waste literacy and could distinguish waste from trash/garbage. It was not just a regular clean up but they also collected and sorted different types of plastics and paper, aluminum cans. To spread the word and encourage other youngsters to take action, participants have recorded educational videos related to waste literacy.

In the end, the project team connected youth centers to recycling companies via online meetings. Young people have raised several questions related to waste separation and literacy, finally, they have agreed with future cooperation.

Georgia doesn’t yet have a quality waste management infrastructure, which causes several environmental issues. Our target communities Kulikami, Sadakhloo, and Sagarejo are one of the most polluted in Georgia, where people used to throw waste into rivers or streets. Because of the lack of information and interest, there were main issues which led us to contribute to youngsters to raise awareness of waste literacy. Before joining the action, young people were not aware of what’s difference between waste and garbage, how they could separate the waste, and what kind of contribution they would have on the environment. It was a surprisingly new topic for them. They didn’t know that there could be different types of plastics or papers, that it is possible to recycle the waste, also it was not known how waste separation could influence their everyday life and on climate change.
What changed is that participants now have a clear vision about waste literacy, they have changed their attitude towards waste and started collecting, separating them.

“Discussion on Silesia’s Region Just Transition” / Poland 

Our Polish partner organisations Młodzi Dla Klimatu, BoMiasto, and Climate Reality decided to boost the discussion on the just transition in Poland, and particularly in the region of Silesia, by organising two inspiring online events supported by the digital campaign.

Two online just transition youth debates happened on 27 and 29 May 2021, gathering 34 participants and expert speakers with the main aim to raise awareness on a sustainable and fair coal transition in Silesia with Silesians. “It’s of high importance as people still lack knowledge or are divided, even between families, experts etc. Making sure there’s enough information and talks on this topic helps to build bridges and transform behaviours”, described Patrycja Przybylska, the local action coordinator.

The organisers are now preparing the final conclusions from the just transition youth debates and hope to present them as recommendations for COP26, organising a follow-up event prior to the COP26 in November 2021.


“Together Against Food Waste” / Denmark 

Denmark and specifically Copenhagen are facing a food waste crisis, where over 700,000 tons of food are being wasted annually. There is a great demand for individual and systemic action necessary to reduce food waste and unsustainable consumption patterns. This is why, with the local action “Together Against Food Waste”, the project team from the UN Youth Association of Denmark wanted to emphasize the scale of the problem, and introduce ways to responsible consumption behaviours and possibilities to engage in a systemic change.

The local project aimed to raise awareness about food waste reduction and educate a wider public about the impact of the global food system on our environment. With this project we wanted to introduce to Copenhageners, and especially youth, a variety of accessible ways of shifting their consumption patterns and consequently reducing food waste in their households. Combining the online campaign with an in-person workshop and thanks to the volunteer engagement and support from our local collaborators and food waste activists, we were able to achieve those objectives.

“Our social media outreach gathered the attention of young individuals not related to our organisation and not familiar with the topic of food waste. When planning the action, we did not expect to gain interest from so many young people, already active in the topic organisations and activists that further expressed interest in becoming our long-term partner” said Anita Magdalena Zalisz, the local action coordinator.

The in-person food waste workshop was co-organised between UNYA Denmark and a local start-up – Grandma Sita, which took the lead on the workshop.

The participants and project team were involved in the organisation of the campaign and workshop gained a better understanding of the complexity and scale of the problem of food waste here in Denmark. Moreover, they learnt about the way they can improve our consumption patterns in our day-to-day life, being introduced to a range of sustainable alternatives of food and resources, and where to actively engage in the creation of a systemic change. During the online campaign, 29 people fully participated, however, the overall outreach was bigger. Due to limited time and COVID-19 restrictions, only 5 participants were able to participate in the workshop physically, the other 13 participated online.

“PLAYing our part on change” / Italy 

Have you ever heard about gamification? The project team from our partner organisation Eufemia in Italy organised “PLAYing our part on change” online training courses for young people on the topics of climate change and circular economy while exploring the facilitation of non-formal activities and gamification as a tool to address these.

“We raised awareness on these topics and provided a space for discussion. The activity also allowed us to empower the participants with new tools for them to implement in their local projects and actions” explained Rita Pereira, the local action coordinator.

The main achievement of this activity was the development of a small community of participants interested in these topics. This activity allowed organisers to connect with young people and youth workers interested in the topics and in developing activities and initiatives for other young people on climate change related issues. The training provided 22 participants with new tools to create and facilitate game-based activities for other young people. Therefore, the project team engaged not only with young people but also with youth workers who will now multiply the impact in their organisations.

Local actions “Step up and Stand up” were part of the Imagining the Green Future project supported by the European Youth Foundation and Erasmus+ Programme.

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