Climate change is causing global and local impacts that have different dimensions – human, political, economic, environmental. Although most of the problems and solutions to tackle climate change are supranational, they are linked to the behaviour of the people and communities on the ground. Therefore, part of the main activities of the “Changing with Climate” project are the six regional introductory meetings that took place in March this year.
We can safely say that these meetings have helped to activate local communities and allowed to start a discussion about climate change and its impact on people’s lives. Our aim was to learn about local environmental problems and discuss possible solutions together with a wide range of experts. We visited the cities and towns of Sofia, Berkovitsa, Svishtov, Belitsa, Burgas and Yambol. The meetings were organized and hosted by the partner schools of the project – Vocational school for agriculture “BUZEMA”, Sofia; Primary School “Nikola Vaptsarov”, Berkovitsa; Secondary School “Tsvetan Radoslavov”, Svishtov; Secondary School “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, Belitsa; Secondary School “Konstantin Petkanov”, Burgas; St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, Veselinovo village. The schools have been selected to cover various areas of the country, such as mountains, seaside, plains and rivers, allowing the different issues related to climate change to be addressed.
A total of 220 participants, including principals, teachers, students, representatives of local administration, mayors and deputy mayors, directors of directorates, experts, representatives of regional departments of education, regional inspectorates of environment and water, basin directorates, nature parks, forestry, local businesses, local civil society organizations, scientists and researchers, university professors, all took part in the meetings, together with parents and public figures, journalists from local news organisations and media. During the meetings, the main objectives and activities of the project were presented, with focus on local climate change issues in three main categories – environment, economic sectors, urban environment and human health.
The collective efforts of the host schools, the project team and experts led to open conversations and exchange of knowledge, experience and good practices. Experts from the Institute for Progressive Education and the Environmental Association “For the Earth” prepared and gave presentations and materials, related to the the topics. Working groups were formed among local community representatives to highlight and discuss climate change issues.
The broad profile of the participants provided an opportunity to discuss the effects of climate change on vulnerable native species and habitats in nature, as well as on economic sectors with a special focus on agriculture, water supply, forests, etc. Some of the local challenges will be described and reflected in the educational materials that are currently being created.
Teacher training and the creation of educational e-resources to assist them in implementing the provisions of the State Educational Standards for Civic, Health, Environmental and Intercultural Education are forthcoming. Young people will also be involved, through student projects to raise awareness of the issues involved. Our common goal is to initiate action on climate change adaptation at the local level. The final project conference, which will be attended by representatives of the Programme Operator, the EEA FM, the Norwegian partner, will take place in May-June 2023.