9.5 Green volunteering, production and consumption
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The Ministry of Environment and Water implements consistent policy to improve the environmental consciousness and culture of young people. In order to encourage the participation of young people and their organisations in the protection, improvement and management of natural resources, in 2018 the Ministry carried out 11 national campaigns on the occasion of the events of the international eco-calendar. Another 14 campaigns on environment protection were organised across the country.
Within the frames of these campaigns, the Ministry of Environment and Water organised round tables, conferences for students and young people, outdoor classes, contests, exhibitions, nature protection initiatives, eco-trail routs, eco shows, cleaning and afforestation activities, separate waste disposal activities, quizzes, training seminars and various forums with the participation of tens of thousands of young people on the territory of the country. These initiatives are a good example for partnership with local authorities, institutions, business and nongovernmental organisations at regional level.
Some of the more popular campaigns were the following:
- international contest for young talents “Music and Earth”;
- educational programs such as “The Park as a Classroom” and “For the Balkan with Love” of the Central Balkan National Park;
- the traditional “Carnival of Biodiversity” organised by Burgas Regional Inspection of Environment and Water
In 2018, a big project has been started by the Ministry of Environment and Water together with Oceans without Borders Foundation for cleaning the Danube River from plastic waste. In the course of the initiatives, most of the regional units of the Ministry of Environment and Water reported an increased attention to the work with children and young people from disadvantaged and minority groups, along with enhanced activities in schools and preschools from small municipalities and towns across the country.
Through its regional structures, the Ministry of Environment and Water actively participates and provides expert, logistic and financial support for the timely collection of wastes on the territory of the country within the frames of the campaign “Let’s Clean Bulgaria for a Day” („Да изчистим България“). During the campaign, the Ministry of Environment and Water exempts the disposal of collected wastes from charge, and the regional environment and water inspections attract hundreds of young people and non-governmental organisations, eco clubs and schools across the regions.
The national campaign “For Clean Environment” („За чиста околна среда“) takes special place in terms of its scope. This is an annual program that has proven to be an effective mechanism for activity and financial support of municipalities, schools and preschools to undertake actions such as cleaning, afforestation, greening, construction or reconstruction of children playgrounds, recreation areas, etc. The projects implemented within the frames of the campaign ensure that the modern trends in the field of environment protection are taken into account by the educational process. The 2022 edition of the contest has funded 314 projects in total, including 103 projects of schools, 103 projects of preschools and 135 projects of municipalities.
Many of the environmental and human health issues refer to unsustainable consumption and production methods. They result in increased use of natural resources, generation of more wastes, and at the same time in increased needs of transport and infrastructures for their transportation and disposal. Experts monitor with concern the overconsumption of pesticides, herbicides and manure in agriculture. Disposal of waste packages is most visible – a problem which has become a global issue for less than two decades.
For the purposes of changing the attitude to nutrition and separate collection of wastes, civic education standards are introduced in Bulgaria as a prerequisite for raising awareness among students, their families and the society in general. The state educational standards for educational content comprise basic cores of educational content related to sustainable development education. According to the standard, the environmental education is directed to the development of environmental culture, awareness and conduct with view of the knowledge in the field of environment, protection, improvement, management and rational use of natural resources, environment and environmental balance protection.
The first of its kind training bio-farm for children “Sunny Garden” has been developed in June 2010 on the territory of the Agri-environmental centre at the University of Agriculture – Plovdiv. The project is funded by the Norwegian Program for Economic Growth and Sustainable Development Cooperation in Bulgaria (Норвежка програма за сътрудничество). The purpose of Sunny Garden Bio-farm is to contribute to the environmental education of children and to improve school and university students’ knowledge on sustainable production, and in particular bio agriculture, on sustainable lifestyle and environment protection.
The Eco-Schools Program (програма “Екоучилища”)is an international program initiated in 1994 and managed by non-governmental organisations belonging to the Environmental Education Foundation. 108 schools and preschools currently work for the Eco-Schools Program in Bulgaria and 62 educational establishments have been awarded with Green Flag. The program is supported by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Environment and Water.
Litter Less campaign aims at decreasing wastes and pollution. It is implemented in 25 countries, including Bulgaria, and it has the objective to engage and educate children and young people on waste issues and to encourage long-term change of their conduct. Fifteen schools in Bulgaria were granted initial funds to facilitate the campaign activities.