The final meeting on the outcomes of the environmental initiatives implemented under the project “Civic Engagement in Environmental Monitoring and Improving Environmental Management at the Local Level”, implemented by UNDP in partnership with of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus and financed by the European Union, was held on the 25th of May. More than 100 participants from across Belarus discussed the outcomes, sustainability and development prospects of the initiatives, shared their experience and further plans.
The contest of environmental initiatives was mainly aimed at reinforcing the capacity of civil society organisations to fully participate in the process of decision-making on environmental issues.
11 applications from 30 districts made it to the contest finals. Nine winners have successfully completed their initiatives.
“The implemented environmental initiatives have covered diverse areas of environmental activities throughout this county; however, the most significant ones are the educational events, - noted Tatiana Petrovna Kononchuk, Head of the Main Department for Environmental Policy, International Cooperation and Science of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus. - The awareness-raising activities were held for two years in order to engage the public in environmental activities. I would like to emphasize that with more successful cases of environmental initiatives and practices, the easier it will be to carry out ecological education in those areas, and thus we will bring our country closer to the solution of environmental challenges and protection of the environment”.
In addition to ecological education, the initiatives also cover such topics, as waste management, sound environmental management, ecotourism, preservation of biodiversity, air quality improvement and use of renewable energy sources.
Thus, sewage heat recovery at the wastewater treatment facility of the city of Masty has helped to improve air quality by reducing pollutant emissions. It was achieved by discontinuing the use of wood as fuel. Sewage heat recovery helped the enterprise save on electricity. An environmental study guide was developed for children with special needs as part of the same initiative, and now they hold classes to develop the young ecologists’ ability to lead their lives as self-sufficiently as possible, in harmony with nature.
An innovative climate-resistant system was developed in Smarhoń District to produce cattle fodder based on Jerusalem artichoke and hydroponic green forage. Now, high-cost and low-efficiency compound feeds and feed additives may be excluded from the conventional animal diet, while using Jerusalem artichoke plantations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Dozens of thousands of tourists visit Slaŭharodski Wetland Reserve every year. In order to preserve the biodiversity and lower man-induced impact on the area, two animal and bird observation towers were built; two ecological hiking and bicycle routes were developed and outfitted; several recreation zones were set up. The reserve area has become a venue for a number of environmental awareness -raising activities for the local school students.
The largest in Belarus and one of the largest animal colonies in Europe has been found near the town of Niasviž. It occupies an area of more than 60 hectares and is home to more than 10,000 ground squirrels. An interactive online map of the ground and flying squirrel habitats in Belarus was developed in order to monitor rare and vanishing species, while the conservation status has been granted to several identified colonies of the European ground squirrel.
A chain of nurseries "Green Garden Economy for the Future of the Village” was created in Mahilioŭ Region. In just a year and a half, nurseries and family gardens will occupy about 10 hectares of vacant land plots, while the established nurseries will be able to supply high-quality planting materials for the local residents, bringing the country dwellers’ dream of a modern and productive garden within reach.
These are just a few examples of the outcomes of the environmental initiatives that were co-implemented by more than 40 partner organisations including schools, kindergartens, youth associations, utilities and religious organisations.
“The successful implementation of the environmental initiatives became possible only through the collaboration of civil society organisations and government agencies. Such partnership in individual projects enables a full-scale involvement of civil society organisations in the process of decision-making on environmental issues, provides the required experience and reinforces their capacity for further environmental activities”, - emphasized Olga Mikhailovna Chabrovskaya, Manager of the Project “Civic Engagement in Environmental Monitoring and Improving Environmental Management at the Local Level”.
The wide range of partnerships at all levels presents a strong case that environmental issues may be addressed in the most efficient manner by concerted efforts involving local residents..
The initiatives were carried out in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. To help protect people from the virus, the project provided assistance in the form of procurement of personal protective equipment, antiseptics and thermometers.
A total of 136 applications from 93 districts of Belarus were submitted to the contest.
Full information about all implemented initiatives is available by e-mail Katsiaryna.firstname.lastname@example.org and telephone +375296806005 from Katsiaryna Mikhadziuk, Communication Specialist of the project “Civic Engagement in Environmental Monitoring and Improving Environmental Management at the Local Level”, financed by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.