We have Only One Earth, no plan B, and a disastrous plan A. Global warming, plastic pollution, air pollution, rising sea levels and other catastrophic environmental problems are bringing irreversible consequences to our planet, making our habitat gradually uninhabitable. Yet year in and year out, the governments, corporations and the society at large fail to acknowledge and recognize risks that we are facing.
June 5th was the globally celebrated World Environment Day, aiming to raise awareness and focus public attention on the importance of protecting Mother Nature. It was established by the UN at the 1972 Stockholm Conference and has been celebrated since 1974.
The theme of the 2022 World Environment Day is #OnlyOneEarth, focusing on global togetherness in the direction of creating an atmosphere conducive to peace, harmony, prosperity, and health by protecting nature and saving lives. The theme, which recognizes the need for the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature, though in essence the same as it has been for the past 50-odd years, is today perhaps more significant than ever. The pandemic alone highlighted the significance of a safe, clean and sustainable environment, and enhanced in many the need to do more to that end.
In Georgia, numerous individuals, businesses and organizations are working to decrease their environmental footprint through daily activities such as recycling, clean work practices, green strategies and awareness-raising, while youth is perhaps the most active part of society in this direction, increasingly more often demanding that those with the power to do so make a difference to law and social behavior before it is too late.
While World Environment Day 2022 was celebrated countrywide in a diverse fashion by many of those Georgians mentioned above, we’ll focus on three inspiring and educational events in particular.
This June 5, CENN, with the support of the European Union and Austrian Development Cooperation, recognized World Environment Day through an event held at the Argokhi Permaculture & Rural Development Center in Kakheti. The Permaculture Center promotes a green lifestyle and harmonious coexistence with nature.
“This year’s theme for the World Environment Day is a reminder that we all play a crucial role in keeping our planet safe,“ said Nana Janashia, CENN executive director. “To tackle the challenges, we all need to take responsibility and, by acting collectively, try to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse. However, meaningful environmental action refers to education and green and democratic values. That is why CENN always prioritizes educational and awareness-raising activities and involves youth in order to share the knowledge and spread the right values in order to build a strong community that can positively impact people and the planet. To celebrate this day, we gathered at the Argokhi Permaculture and Rural Development Center, where living in harmony with nature is prioritized.”
During that Kakheti event, a plogging and plant discovery tour was organized in the forest of Maghraani village, lunch with an open-air screening of the documentary “Europe and Me” took place at the Argokhi Permaculture and Rural Development Center.
The event was attended by partner organizations, local young eco-activists, and other stakeholders.
More than 30 young ecoactivists joined the guided plant discovery tour in the Maghraani forest. Inside the forest, they divided into small groups and set out to explore and understand more about the plant diversity around them.
“The Argokhi Permaculture and Rural Development Center is located in the village of Argokhi, bordered by mountains, part of which belongs to the Batsara Babaneuri Protected Areas,” says Kakha Sukhitashvili, Botanist and author of ‘Georgia Plants,’ published by CENN. “The mountains around the village are distinguished by biodiversity, especially an abundance of plant species. About 400 species of plants (trees, shrubs, and grasses) are common, including many red-listed or rare species. World Environment Day had the task of introducing students and teachers to key representatives of the local flora.”
The documentary “Europe and Me,” created by the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, presented to the audience the values of diversity, equality, freedom and democracy, which are central to the European Union, its Member States and to Georgia.
“Ecology and environmental protection is very important to me in general and I love participating in such awareness-raising events,” says Temo Geldiashvili, member of the Akhmeta Rural Innovation Knowledge Hub. “On World Environment Day, during the plant discovery tour, I gained a lot of new experience and knowledge, and I got acquainted with a lot of new plants in the Maghraani forest. After the tour, we watched a film called “Europe and Me” in which we learned that we should respect each other regardless of our nationality, sex, religion, etc. Lastly, I am happy that I made new friends too and it ended up being a very joyful and productive day.”
World Environment Day Elsewhere in Georgia
The Kakheti visitors were not alone in uniting for World Environment Day this year, as in Gori municipality, central Georgia, some 20 young people kicked off the “Eco Cop Movement”, within which the population is urged not to pollute the environment and to demonstratively clean up polluted places in the municipality.
In Marneuli municipality, with the financial support of HEKS-EPER, the Marneuli Girls’ Club in Tamarisi village organized a clean-up activity. As part of the event, participants also received information on the negative environmental, economic and social effects of pollution and the importance of waste management.
“To enable an inclusive transformation of local communities, it is important to contribute to the active citizenship of young people as well as to the empowerment of women so that they can act as change-makers for their communities,” notes Sopiko Babalashvili, project representative. “Marneuli Girls’ Club serves to develop the opportunities for young girls and women living in Marneuli Municipality to become agents of change and to have a positive impact on the local development processes.”
By Katie Ruth Davies