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Austrian Development Agency, CENN launch green economy school
CENN, a non-governmental organization working to protect the environment by fostering sustainable development throughout the South Caucasus, has launched a student initiative “Green Economy School”.
The program is initiated within the frames of the project “Promoting Sustainable Forest Management for Climate Resilient Rural Development in Georgia,” which is implemented with the financial support of Austrian Development Agency, with funds of Austrian Development Cooperation.
The initiative is aimed at linking university resources with current state and international economic programs.
20 students from 6 universities of Georgia, selected through a competition, are taking part in the mentioned program. They will undergo trainings and will be sent to the regions of Georgia to prepare family, private, municipal, or national models of use of forest resources. A number of the resulting business plans will be financed within the framework of the program and will be implemented with the direct involvement of the students. The opportunities for financing will also be discussed within the frames of an initiative aimed at promoting the development of small businesses and local economy.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, CENN held the festive opening ceremony of the Green Economy School on July 23 at the Bulachauri Green Center.
The event was attended by the supporters of the green initiative, representatives of Georgian universities and the state agencies involved in the program.
At the school program opening ceremony, a memorandum of collaboration was signed between CENN, its partner universities and supporter agencies of the Green Economy School, who unite to achieve sustainable development and strategic rural development goals. The signatories of the memorandum include: Environmental Information and Education Center, National Forestry Agency, Enterprise Georgia, Agricultural and Rural Development Agency of Georgia, Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, as well as partner universities: Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University, State Teaching University of Zugdidi, Caucasus University, Black Sea University and Ilia State University.
Within the frames of the partnership, the sides will implement mutually beneficial goals for the development of an environment-friendly economy and for the growth of employment among youth.
“Within the frames of this collaboration, CENN will cooperate with the state agencies and universities for green growth, rural development and sustainable use of forest resources,” said Nana Janashia, the Executive Director of CENN.
Gela Khanishvili, the First Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture, addressed the audience at the opening ceremony, pointing out the importance of the development of an eco-friendly economy and the fact that the young generation will be involved in this process.
“Today’s event is especially important as the Green Economy School is being launched. Actually, the process of implementation of the resolutions adopted by government starts together with students, the new generation, which should guarantee the better future of our country. The green economy is the future of our country. Through this initiative, we will have new opportunities to start successful businesses in kind collaboration with nature. It is for the benefit of the public that we need a recognized approach and action from every participant. The Green Economy School and those young people selected through the competition will be the first message showing there is a legislative environment for environment protection, but society is also able to get involved in this process and use the benefits of a green economy,” he stated.
As Nino Tsilosani, a Member of the Parliament of Georgia, noted, the state actively supports and encourages the initiative of CENN and is ready for further cooperation.
“Just like other CENN projects, this initiative is also very innovative and necessary for our times. ‘Green economy’ is a new, modern direction which is just being launched now in Georgia. Our country needs to farther develop its innovative components if we want to strengthen our economy.
“This project is interesting as it gives young people the opportunity to be employed and receive a lot of new skills and knowledge in the field of green economy. This is also yet another opportunity for tourism development, as well as for diversifying our natural resources through their sustainable use. I would like to thank CENN for such an exciting project. The Parliament of Georgia welcomes and encourages this initiative and is ready for further cooperation to achieve green economy goals,” she elaborated.
According to Rezo Getiashvili, CENN Program Coordinator, rural development and increase employment of youth are the main goals of the project.
“In total, 11 organizations are participating in this initiative together with CENN, including the Agency of Protected Areas, which has quite a positive experience in economic development and employing the local population. The National Forestry Agency also plays a significant role in it, as we believe that rural development can’t be achieved only through agriculture, especially here in Georgia, where the local villages are more dependent on the use of natural resources and forests than the cultivation of land.
“In for the Green Economy School, we will introduce various startups, concepts and ideas for business development to students. The projects will be implemented in four regions of Georgia: Ajara, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Kakheti. The students will visit the locations themselves to find beneficiaries for their projects,” Getiashvili said.
“We cooperated with Analyze and Consulting group (ACT), which conducted research within the frames of our project, the Green Economy School, to find out more about the local traditions in the above-mentioned regions of Georgia and select ideas for startups. For instance, we found a person who produces rosehip beer, which is also a good idea for a startup. This is a local tradition, not an innovation. And we believe that exactly the development of local traditions is the best way forward, because it is always difficult to start from scratch. When you already have a certain basis, it is easier to improve and develop it.
“Yet another example is Gipitauri, a kind of vodka made with fruits. Traditionally, it was made with wild fruits picked in the forest. The same trees and fruits still grow in the forests, but people no longer use them for distilling vodka. The innovation lies in the fact that until now, no-one has ever tried to bottle Gipitauri. However, it would be quite an exciting product and everyone would buy it with pleasure,” the Program Coordinator noted.
According to Getiashvili, in September, 10 business plans will be ready for implementation.
The authors of the best four business plans, which will be selected through a competition, will be offered a new and longer phase of cooperation with CENN. Initially, CENN will cooperate with all 20 students for approximately two months.
“This is yet another opportunity for students to find employment,” Getiashvili noted. “This project will bring significant theoretical and practical knowledge to the youth, so that they can contribute to rural development, which is an important part of the economic development of our country. We believe that the idea of the Green Economy School will be successful and its directions will become more and more diverse in the future. Additionally, we intend to increase the amount of the students participating in the project, considering the positive feedback our initiative has received among them.”