How can local NGOs bring a change?

“Now is the time for action. Governments, the private sector, regional and international organizations, must start working to implement the 17 ambitious Global Goals.”

So recites the speech of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the World Future Energy Summit which took place in the United Arab Emirates in January 2016.

To ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, according to the United Nations, is one of seventeen ambitious goals which stays on the 2030 Agenda of our global society. Ban Ki-moon states that preeminently sustainable energy is a key link which unites such important parts of society’s prosperity chain as social equity, economic growth and a common aim to combat a climate change – a challenge which in the future can lead to a new global problem – environmental refugees. Sustainability is not anymore a trend for Western societies but a goal for all seven continents in order to guarantee an economic growth, food, education, health care and equality for the generations to come. Today China and the United States head the list of top ten countries in the world who consume the biggest amount of energy according to Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2016. Sweden is on the list among the bottom ten countries.

To diminish consumption, to learn how to recycle smart, to make urban areas citizen- friendly, to reduce CO2 emissions and to change cars for bikes – these first steps will become turning points to make a big change. Environmental activists from two continents – Europe and Africa have joined international forces with a common ambition which starts with small steps: how to save energy in the local community where people spend every day of their life, work, study and meet their family and friends. This is how the international project “Green in Everyday Life” started.

 

International workshop at project Green in Everyday Life

An international initiative, supported by the Erasmus Association and the European Commission, ”Green in Everyday Life” united five countries – Sweden, the UK, Morocco, Italy and Spain in one aim on how to reduce energy’s usage and consumption of natural resources’ in everyday life in chosen focus groups from local communities in the respective countries. Even though each country has different concepts of sustainable development and environmental challenges, the common aim on how to improve the environmental situation and quality of everyday life brought international activists together later on to a final conference. The first international conference within the project recently took place in Spain in June 2016 where each country presented its gained results and best practices upon the project’s end. The conference gave a unique opportunity to discuss what has been learned after almost 1.5 years of active work in local communities. To find right participants for the project who are interested in environment, sustainability and are willing to participate was one of the challenges which project’s implementers faced. In order to reach participants from different social groups, five international NGOs aimed to involve stakeholders on different levels in respective countries.

In the Italian city of Perugia the key participants were chosen with the help of municipalities. The project’s coordinators from Italy chose to work with pupils in primary schools. With the help of previously established cooperation with municipality of Perugia, the NGO from Italy received many requests from directors of different schools who were interested to participate in the project. The schools’ authorities expressed curiosity on the project’s content and framework as it targeted pupils of young age, both immigrants and Italian-born, pupils who have certain disabilities and needs and study in mixed classes. With the help of creative workshops, together with games-and-arts approach the Italian project’s partners shared with children the basic principles of saving different energy sources which surround them in their everyday life – at home and at school. According to the data provided for 2015 by Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2016, Italy’s total energy consumption consists of 8% among other European countries. Swedish indicator is 3%, the UK’s – 10% and Spanish is 6%. The representative from Italian NGO points out “…when we proposed this project, they (schools’ directors) were happy and curious…They say absolutely “yes”, immediately…Even if we would not have already established contacts with schools, it will be not a problem to attract their interest as our project offers more than the environmental education provided at school does.” The Italian NGO’s representative adds that cooperation with involved schools has strengthened after the project and will be sustained in the future.

The UK’s NGO performed the project in prisons. In order to get access to work with prisoners in the UK the first step was to receive a permission from the prison’s governance. The next step, according to the representative from the UK’s organization, was to distribute information flyers about green advantages in terms of employment, dealing with poverty, knowledge of recycling when the prisoner is released from prison and how prisoners can use the gained knowledge in their professional life after being released. The focus was to deliver eco- skills to the participants, to show them how they can use knowledge if they want to become self-employed after leaving prison and how they can improve their CVs from a professional point of view when looking for a job. Not only prisons but probation centers were involved in the project where two participants expressed their high interest in the project’s topic which has led to their recruitment by probation staff. Moreover, the UK’s NGO initiated a conference which was conducted in July 2016 outside London in Aylesbury with participants from public sector such as prisons governance, employment centers with its pension departments and probation centers. The main idea was to disseminate the learning process and ideas developed during the course of the project with participants from prisons and probation centers. Water meter, to decrease the temperature in the fridge in order to use less energy, to unplug the charger when it is not in use – these simple aspects will be of a big help for prisoners once they are released from prisons and project “Green in Everyday Life” contributed to a large extent to rising this awareness.

“In order to reach pupils from a school located in one of the smallest Moroccan regions, I started to play a game. I was playing a lake and the lake was talking to pupils about how to use the water, how to interact with the environment around We chose this methodology.” – tells one of the Moroccan project’s implementers about her experience. In fact, Morocco is facing today a large rural poverty due to significant shortages of renewable water resources and an effective water reform is needed. Agricultural sector consumes the biggest amount of renewable that is why the Moroccan team focused on schools in the rural regions. Besides pupils and families, representatives from public administration namely youth counselors of the region were invited to participate in “Green in Everyday Life” in Morocco. ”To involve active youth into dynamics of decision making via policies, to show that youth can also negotiate as political actors through different municipalities…” -these challenges were turned by the Moroccan team into project’s goals. The project’s initiative raised by Moroccan team resulted into the development of the strategy to reach the president of the participating municipality with an aim to include the main aspects of the project into the goals for municipality on energy saving and consumption. The argument on energy bills reduction was also a positive factor in the negotiation process with municipalities.

Swedish NGO Global Playground Stockholm implemented project from the Swedish side. Families with small- or middle size households were identified as a target group to work with. At the initial stage of the project’s implementation a number of housing companies in Stockholm were contacted with an aim to cooperate. A number of educational workshops, a “household inspection” for identifying household’s needs in terms of saving energy and water and a distribution of a “tailor- made” saving kit for each household’s individual needs including LED lamps, water saving caps for bathroom or kitchen tap were included in the project’s course in Sweden. There was a low or no response noticed from the six housing companies located in different areas in Stockholm who were contacted. One company expressed its interest in cooperation and provided a list of ten households in the district of Akalla, which according to the company’s statistics had the highest rate in electricity bills and water consumption. However, difficulties were encountered during the period of contacting with the households owners due to limited Swedish and English language skills. While evaluating the challenges after the project’s implementation, Swedish NGO was the one among five participating countries who encountered such challenges as engagement of external stakeholders in cooperation. Housing companies were chosen as most suitable stakeholders for project “Green in Everyday Life” as they have direct contacts with tenants and could therefore become a link between tenants and project’s implementers. All tenants who were contacted abandoned the offer to participate due to low interest and limited language skills which was a crucial obstacle.

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The Spanish NGO focused their work on emigrants in the town of Murcia and its region in the south-east of Spain. The topic of integration of immigrants into Spanish society is one of the current importance in Murcia. To share the knowledge about economical consumption, smart recycling and saving households’ energy and resources with newcomers is one of the integration key factors from a long-time perspective. Besides, the Spanish NGO is also a project’s grant holder with a rather renowned reputation within the region. This fact has played a positive role in establishment of cooperation with various stakeholders, in particular with representatives from local municipalities who were willing to cooperate. In terms closely akin to the formalistic, the Spanish NGO has support from local municipalities also due to the project’s innovative character. Moreover, the role of non-governmental organizations in the society in Spain is stronger than, for instance, in Sweden where the state carries many responsibilities which in other countries are simply taken by NGOs. This fact can be also related to the lack of interest shown from stakeholders in Sweden in comparison to those in Italy, Spain, Morocco and the UK who have been contacted by respective project’s implementers.

Conclusion and problematic points of the project

Sweden has a goal of reducing its energy intensity by 20% to 2020. Having this in mind, all stakeholders need to work together to achieve this goal. Housing companies have an important role in order to reach this goal through renovation of old buildings, investment in renewable energy sources and taking small actions such as spreading information and offering education to tenants about their energy consumption and how and why they should decrease it. “Green in Everyday Life” was such a project focusing on changing the patterns in people’s everyday life. The project’s goal was to reduce the target group’s energy and water consumption by 10 percent and change participants’ behavior towards sustainable lifestyle by for example promoting the usage of bikes or public transportation instead of cars, eating locally produced food, using less packaged food, etc. All participants were educated in these matters since these actions are beneficial for the housing companies. Reduction of energy- and water consumption results in economic savings which should motivate the housing companies to participate in similar projects.

The main difficulty we have met during the project’s implementation was the lack of support and interest from the housing companies. Out of six companies there was only one showed interest to cooperate by providing us a list of 10 households with indicators of the highest energy and water consumption. Upon contacting these households by phone, we didn’t succeed in gaining their interest to participate in the project due to language barriers. Our aim was not understood by tenants when we gave them phone calls. The housing companies were requested to provide us with a list of mixed households with both Swedish and foreign tenants in order to reach more households but our request was disregarded. One of our suggestions to the housing companies was to invite all tenants living in one area to an information meeting about GIEL project and those interested could participate. But this suggestion was declined. We tried to work together with the housing companies to make this project successful, where both sides could gain from it. On one hand, the housing companies would reduce their water and energy bills for those tenants that participated. On the other hand, we would offer them free educational tools and saving kits. Due to lack of interest to cooperate we decided to conduct this project by ourselves.

The problems we faced with the housing companies make us really wonder over the lack of cooperation that exists weden. All of the companies we have contacted stated that they have an environmental profile working with energy savings. But when it comes to taking real actions, none of these companies showed any interest. Comparing the Swedish stakeholders to those from Italy, Spain, the UK and Morocco we notice a big difference in the involvement of different actors in the project. It shows that Swedish stakeholders are not interested in cooperation and prefer to do the training by themselves presumably due to lack of trust for NGOs but possibly also due to different cultural and historical backgrounds in respected countries.

Our main goal was to involve ten households, mainly families but we ended up working with young individuals whose households consisted of one or two people. The participants contacted us and showed their interest in participation. Almost all participants were Global Playground Stockholm’s members that had seen the information about the project in social media and were interested to participate. We had ten participants at the initial stage of the project but later on the number decreased to six. The participants that left the project did so due to lack of time which in fact is the main reason for many people we contacted who declined to participate. It also shows how low the interest in Sweden is to participate in these initiatives which were provided free of charge. Comparing the participation in Sweden to other partner countries, we can clearly see that many Swedish citizens have low or no interest to participate in such activities.

We tried to promote this project in social media websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, local newspapers, our website, and other NGOs website but nevertheless a low interest was expressed. We knew from the beginning that to gather participants from ten households might turn into a challenge but it should not be a possible task. It is easier to choose other target groups such as schools or offices but our main idea was to target individuals in their homes and study their behavior to change their lifestyle to a sustainable one. What we can see is that all participants of the project were young, educated people with environmental interest. This was of course not our main goal since this group already knew much but still gained new knowledge and experience.

In order to reach a sustainable future, all stakeholders need to take actions. All actions matter even the smallest ones. This experience showed us the lack of cooperation between different stakeholders in Sweden. Thus the question still remains: how will we reach a sustainable future if we do not cooperate to achieve it together? As this fact is crucial we strongly recommend stakeholder such as housing companies to seize such opportunities as GIEL project to achieve actual results. It is important to work across boundaries in order not only to develop but also to create a change in the society. All cross sectoral cooperation is important; especially with non-governmental NGOs that strives to change society for better through inclusion of different social groups. What NGOs experience today is a lack of trust, interest and cooperation with different stakeholders and politicians. There is no space for NGOs to create a change if it is not supported by the civil society and state institutions. Therefore it is of a big importance to give the NGOs the support needed.

Stiva Liwiz and Iryna Mikhnovets

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NGO Global Playground Stockholm joins a new international network to promote sustainable lifestyles

The network “Green4life” was set up under the project “Green in Everyday Life”, funded by the EU Programme ERASMUS + and coordinated by Association Columbares from Spain in frames of established partnership with organisations from Italy, Sweden, Morocco, the UK and Jordan.  

The project’s results were presented at the International “Green in Everyday Life” Conference that took place the 1-3 June 2016 in Spain. “Green in Everyday Life” has raised awareness on environmental issues related to the use of energy, water, waste and mobility and has promoted a moderate use of resources by encouraging individual responsibility of people. 

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Green4Life is the new International Green Homes Network, one of the key outputs of the Erasmus+ Green in Everyday Life project. The Spanish Association Columbares coordinates the project in cooperation with NGO Global Playground Stockholm (Sweden), Consorzio abn (Italy), Bassin Guir (Morocco), Insider Access (the UK), WE Center (Jordan) and the Spanish Public Body CENEAM. 

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The accomplishments and best practices of the project “Green in Everyday Life” were shared in Segovia, Spain at Hogares Verdes-Green4life Conference during the 1-3rd of June 2016, organised by Association Columbares and CENEAM.

Since June 2015, the abovementioned organizations have encouraged many initiatives to promote a moderate use of resources by encouraging individual responsibility; raise awareness on environmental issues related to the use of energy, water, waste and mobility; improve key skills and offer new educational tools for educators and partner organizations and create a European level space of lifelong learning for environmental education.

In that context, the Green4life network represents a virtual space of green “thinkers” that will combine international exchange of experiences, transfer of methodologies, educational materials and knowledge in “Green in Everyday Life” related areas, which continues to actively function after the project is completed.

The network works in a similar way as Spanish network Hogares Verdes, and it will offer both Spanish and other international members to spread and increase the experience of Hogares Verdes Programme and “Green in Everyday Life” project.

The main results

During the conference, the “Green in Everyday Life” partners presented to the Spanish participants the results of their project. They worked with families, students, prisoners, among others and it is estimated that over 1,500 people obtained benefits from this programme. The organizations involved claim that the project is very powerful, in terms of changing the behaviour of participants.

The Spanish Association Columbares has worked with immigrants in actions that have reached about 254 people. Participants have among other activities learned how to convert cooking oil into soap.

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In Italy, Consorzio abn has conducted environmental audits and workshops at schools. When the project was finished, water consumption at selected schools was reduced from 382 to 194 liters and energy consumption was reduced by 10% compared to the initial stage of the project.

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East & West Center for Human Resources Development from Jordan has worked with young people. Jordan is the second world’s poorest country when it comes to water supply. After the project, domestic water consumption in the participating in the project community decreased by 10-20%. 

In the UK, Insider Access has implemented a pioneer project in prisons, where participants became aware that they also can contribute to improvement of the environment.

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Green in Everyday Life” was also a way of inspiration for new eco-enterprises, such as waste-recycling, insulation of green materials or bicycles.

The Association Bassin Guir for the Development and Protection of Environment in Morocco has target group of students and families who have learned about sustainable practices applied in the household.

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“Green in Everyday Life” was not only a project for promoting changes in families’ daily habits, but also a way to transform the environment and policies in the communities, arrange complementary activities for cleaning public spaces and include ecological aspects in local policies.

NGO Global Playground Stockholm, from Sweden, has worked with families who have learned about how to properly recycle waste, choose sustainable food and save energy and water. The participants have become highly aware of their consumption patterns, especially when it comes to purchasing packaged food which has decreased significantly.

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All project activities in Sweden have been linked to general objectives of “Green in Everyday Life” project. NGO Global Playground Stockholm had nine workshops in total (sustainable mobility, energy and water saving, responsible consumption etc.) related to objectives of “Green in Everyday Life” about raising awareness on environmental problems related to usage of energy and water, promoting values and lifestyle compatible with moderate usage of resources such as future food, responsible consumption and waste management. The idea with all workshops was to reach the objectives of the project and promote individual responsibility and change. The main goal was not only to change behaviour of participants but also to spread the knowledge and best practices gained from conducted activities and workshops among other individuals outside the project.

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http://www.green4life.world/

@green4life_eu

https://www.facebook.com/Green4life.eu/

#Green4life

www.globalplaygroundstockholm.com

@GPStockholm

 

 

 

Global Playground Stockholm: local action with global views

Our team

Many of us, looking back on our childhoods, liked to play with sand in the playground outside the house. Building unusual caves, castles and houses, creating plants and flowers of different sizes and shapes, experimenting with silhouettes of fantasy animals; we were creating a world, where all our sand-made creatures could happily cohabit with each other.

At the end of 2012, two PhD students, Aleh Kliatsko from Belarus and Oksana Udovyk from Ukraine, and a Master student from Ukraine, Vladyslav Kozak, all former Swedish Institute scholarship holders, developed the idea of creating an organization in Stockholm, which will gather and unite like-minded international and Swedish youth and students in one playground of sustainable ideas, international cooperation and friendship, green projects and smart lifestyle for everyone irrespective of age or occupation.

Thus, “Global Playground Stockholm” was born and since then continues to gather young people, who are passionate about environment, changing behavior and habits into smart and sustainable lifestyle and sustainable development in everyday life.

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From the start the aim was to create a common “playground” – organization for international students, who come to Sweden to study and are interested in sustainable development. The participation in various organization’s activities was a way for them to get deeper into the Swedish society.

Global Playground Stockholm gathered participants of the projects and organization members from all around the world, who contributed and continue to contribute to the “playground” with their unique experiences, ideas and creative thinking.

Today “Global Playground Stockholm” has over 400 members. Sustainable development and smart life are the main areas that the organization tackles through its projects.

Urban gardening is also among the leading concepts of Global Playground Stockholm, which was in particular developed on the rooftop of one of the student dormitories in Stockholm’s old town was organization’s first activity.

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With a motto “Think globally – act locally” active members started off an “Eco tour” in Stockholm – sustainable excursions through the city with stops at vegetarian cafes, shops with sustainable goods, recycling spots and city bikes.

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Eco Tour for American students

The organisation expands its ”playground” through an active international cooperation with different countries, by participating to international workshops, hubs and projects. One of such examples is an ongoing Erasmus plus project “Green in Everyday Life”, where together with stakeholders from Italy, Spain, Morocco and the United Kingdom “Global Playground Stockholm” works upon the improvement of sustainable energy consuming, smart recycling, green behavior and thinking.

Visiting Uniforms for Dedicated
Workshop on saving water and energy

Besides, Global Playground Stockholm established and developed an active cooperation between Ukrainian and Belarusian youth NGOs, who are active in the environmental movement and who promote sustainable development principles, good governance, ways to change policy and finding new solutions for environmental problems inherited from the Soviet era.

Above that the NGO applies a creative approach combined with science and waste management concepts through production of eco-bags with the help of used textiles and natural colors, derived from vegetables.

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The EcoSmart mobile application is another creative example, which allows its green eco-users to be updated and find a place to enjoy vegetarian food, buy ecological goods and use other services which help to live more sustainably.

One of the organization’s main aim is to unite like-minded people and creative minds to make a change on an everyday basis and to make life more smart, sustainable, green and environmentally friendly. To start to think locally and be aware of simple green principles is the first step all of us can take towards the long- term vision of improving our planet.

International workshop at project Green in Everyday Life

Text and photo credit: 

Iryna Mikhnovets
Communication director at Global Playground Stockholm

Contact:
www.globalplaygroundstockholm.com
E-mail:  globalplaygroundsthlm@gmail.com
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Visit to Stockholm Royal Seaport

NGO Global Playground Stockholm organized a study visit to Stockholm Royal Seaport, a green district that is been transformed from an industrial zone to the largest sustainable redeveloped area in Stockholm.

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Stockholm Royal Seaport is currently one of the most ambitiuos urban development projects in Europe. It was initiated by the City of Stockholn around 2008 in order to revitalize the old industrial neighbourhood and the port area in the North-East of Stockholm. According to the plan, the area will embrace all aspects of a sustainable and livable city and in 15 years become the world-class example for other cities to follow up. Global Playground visited Stockholm Royal Seaport Innovaiton Center to learn about state of the art sustainabe urban development practices.

The fact that Royal Seaport is located close to nature (water in the east and the royal national park in the north) and to the city center (only 3,5 km away, easily accessible by public transport) at the same time contributes to the vision of “city within a city”. In other words,  Stockholm Royal Seaport aims to become a separate and self-sufficient neighborhood of Stockholm, not just a suburb, by mixing jobs, residential, commercial, and recreational facilities and providing citizens with all-encompassing infrastructure. Mixed use of space will eliminate dead and dark spaces during the night hours and by that improve safety and livability of the area. Developers are planning to combine some of the existing houses and refurbished industrial buildings with completely new ones. But there are no big shopping malls in the plan, only mid-size buildings with floor level rented out to shops, restaurants and other small businesses. The developers want to maintain the human scale of older parts of Stockholm.

The project seems to be an explicit collection of all the best practices in environmental sustainability.  There will for example be energy-plus houses, storing heat collected over summer and using it for heating during cold months. All homes will be equipped with biogas provided by a new power plant. The City of Stockholm puts big emphasis on the amount of greenery a house should have, together with spaces for urban gardening. Another important part of sustainability for the Royal Seaport is integration of the area into the surrounding environment. Mr. Bo Hallqvist (information officer at Royal Seaport) told us about the wildlife research project they have conducted in order to understand how the local fauna will be affected. As a result of this project there are now plans to build a tunnel for frogs, so they could get from nearby forests to residential areas and ponds without risking their life. Partner companies will be also incentivized to take into consideration well-being of seabirds and other species. Even though Stockholm Royal Seaport constantly highlights that it will be an upgraded version of Hammarby Sjöstad – another sustainable neighbourhood in Stockholm – the same vacuum waste collection system will be adopted. There will be many more build-in sustainble waste and energy solution, but the main challenge is still not completely solved – how to change behavioral patterns of residents?

There are currently many companies working as contractors, each responsible for a small part of the project. According to Bo Hallqvist there is a list of around 80 requirements that companies have to follow, which makes Stockholm Royal Seaport a demanding and challenging project to work with. But the tough requirements will allow the area to be the leader in sustainable urbanism.

It is rather curious, that there is no fixed master plan for the project. Royal Seaport wants to stay flexible and up-to-date by taking into account new technological solutions that might come up in the remaining 15 years. However some important decisions, like whether and how smart grid will be introduced into the project, are not yet made. The City of Stockholm makes a good effort to take into account all the small details to deliver the best result, but long execution time might present unexpected challenges.

On our way back we walked a bit through the future Stockholm Royal Seaport. Looking at it today, it is difficult to see that the area is going to become a world-class sustainability neighborhood. So far one cannot say for sure whether this complex and ambitious project will be successful. The ship of Stockholm Royal Seaport is just beginning its journey and there are still many miles left on its way.

Post is written by Nina Tsutsieva

Global Playground Stockholm participated in the training course Green in Everyday Life in Murcia, Spain November 2013

Day 1 – Monday: Hello, Γεια, Hi, Hej, Hola, Cześć, مرحبا                                      

We had been talking for weeks about this day. The day when the training course will start and we will meet all the other participants. Finally came the day.

 We arrived at CEMA CAM Torre Guil, a bioclimatic centre used for environmental education such as training courses, workshops, conferences etc. Very innovative back when it was built. The first day was a good blend of practical information, introduction and games to get to know each others names and interests. Egypt, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Marocco, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain, Palestine, Poland and Romania name the home countries of the 25 amazing participants. Plus our marvelous organizers Mairita and Carmen, that succeeded taming, entertaining and educating us.

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Day 2 – Tuesday: Save energy!

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One of our first workshops was organized by the Spanish NGO Columbares. One of their activities is the program “Hogares Verdes”, Green Homes, in which they work with families and households in Spain to raise environmental awareness and educate them about how to save energy and water, that is how to live a greener life. An exercise followed for us, divided into geographically close countries, about how we could get families involved in similar projects in our countries. In the photo Sweden and our Nordic friends from Latvia are working hard on designing a 3-phase program for single-households and families. We also discussed environmental topics such as the reduction of single-used products like the beloved coffee-to-go or daily take-away lunch box. Maybe one can introduce real ceramic cups and install return stations scattered over the town? To defeat the overflow of single-households, one could establish a community life-project in which alone-living and cooking people can combine their basic activities, such as grocery shopping, cooking, car-using etc. Also it was super interesting to hear different ideas from the other countries. The day continued with lunch, power siesta and a crisis simulation and which we had to labour all our synapses to find the best way organizing a town without electricity but hungry inhabitants. We came up with different ideas and strategies but also came to the conclusion, that energy is not always present or abundant, so that one should consume it consciously. On the one hand, there are actions you can do. Like turning off the light when you leave the room, but also there are some innovative devices. Have you heard about energy meter to monitor your actual consumption, timers to limit the charging time of your cellphone during the night, or even better, a solar-driven mobile phone charger?

Day 3 – Wednesday: Saving water and responsible consumerism

Craving a banana? Go and buy one in the next supermarket, you get it for just 20 cents! Where does it come from, Costa Rica maybe? Imagine you’re working there on a banana plantation under harsh and unhealthy conditions – I’m sure you would want a big part of the 20 cents to compensate your hard job. In an energetic and passionate role play of the whole supply chain we debated, fought, compromised with the workers, the plantation owners, the importers, the shippers and the supermarkets; and in the end all had to lower their portion of the banana to meet the consumers demand on a price as low as possible. It might be good to remind oneself that fewer middlemen often result in more percent of the price to the farmer. The poor worker gets only 4 % of the profit per banana! Thinking of this, buying a banana is not as easy anymore.

Responsible consumerism is the complex topic and it doesn’t end with the banana. More exotic fruits, vegetables, cotton and products as for example clothes have the same background story. We continue checking the labels of over our clothes to create a map where they have been made. Contrasting these blue dots with red dots for countries where we have lived, clear trends show up. China and Southeast Asia is becoming more and more popular for tourism but it still is more reigned by clothes productions. The Ethical Consumer is a good web page to find out about the impact or all kinds of products and values of different companies.

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The afternoon was full of water. Using water, saving water, hidden water. We talked about different actions and devices to save water and tested ourselves by guessing the amount of hidden water, that is all water needed for one product like coffee, meat or paper from the beginning to the end of the production chain. You’ll be surprised how big your water footprint actually is! For example you need 140 liter to produce one cup of coffee.

photo4Workshop about how to save water

Day 4 – Thursday: A day of Murcian history and Spanish food     

On Thursday we had a break from the workshops. It was time for some sightseeing in the city of Murcia. We had local guide who guided us around the city. Murcia is an old, very beautiful city with a lot of interesting history. If you visit south of Spain, we can definitely recommend this city.

photo5After a free afternoon the group met up at a typical Spanish restaurant. We had lovely tapas for dinner. The evening ended at a pub with a local live-band. Something that was a bit of a signature for our group was that as soon that we heard some music it was time for some dancing, here somewhere in the middle of the old town with an amazing street musician 🙂 

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Day 5 – Friday: Presentation of CEMA Torre Guil, entrepreneurs presentation

After breakfast we had a guided tour around the centre CEMA with our fantastic organizer Carmen. CEMA is a unique centre in the way it is constructed and how it uses the environment where it is located. Solar panels are a very important source for electricity and to heat up the hot water for the showers. Most of the rooms have big windows so the daylight can reach even the corner in the room. A thing of the centre that interested me was the thoughts of impact on the environment when the centre was build. When the CEMA was build the architects did not want to make a big impact on the surroundings. It is built in different levels, and trees and bushes were planted back on roof, which also works as an isolation.

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In the afternoon we had local entrepreneurs visited us that presented their business ideas connected to sustainability. It was a great mixture of topics: two women had started an ecological agriculture business, for families in the neighbourhood to order a basket of these locally grown vegetables and fruits. Another project takes place in Murcia city promoting the use of bicycles in the city – put the fun between your legs! A sustainable way of transportation that not only makes fun but is also healthy and makes you more happy! A third entrepreneur presented his company that produce for example furniture, toys for kids, marketing material, and whole exhibitions – all out of recycled cardboard solely. This afternoon was one of the most interesting afternoons for us, getting inspired by people that believe in a business idea and make their dream come true.

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Day 6 – Saturday: Natural Park, Future planning, Last dinner

After an excursion to the beautiful natural park San Pedro del Pinatar where we saw flamingos, salt lakes and learnt about the special plants that live in these extreme conditions we went back to the centre to create some ideas about possible future projects.

Day 7 – Sunday: See you           

We have to say, this whole week was simply fantastic. Not only we learned a lot about how to live a greener life and had plenty of stimulating discussions, but also we learned to communicate these important but sometimes heavy topics in a playful and effective way. Thank you, Mairita and Carmen for this whole experience! We made new friends. Amazing people from all different countries. Thank you all for a week full of fun, laughing, dancing and exchange of  ideas and languages! We hope to meet you all again in the future, may it be for a common project, a banana game or just for a green reunion 🙂

We got inspired by all we’ve learnt and discussed in the course, and now want to give this experience to our future green fellows. Go green! Save the planet! Stay updated and see you at our event!

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Thanks to Claudia Alonso for the beautiful photos!

Lara Schultes, Sofia Söderberg – participants from Global Playground Stockholm





Tour into Swedish Sustainable Lifestyle for Young Eco-Activists from Belarus

Swedish NGO Global Playground Stockholm organized an international project that is called “Tour into Swedish Sustainable Lifestyle for Young Environmental Activists from Belarus”. This is an initiative of Global Playground sponsored by LSU – The National Council of Swedish Youth Organizations, and is a 5 day project (11th – 15th November this year) that involved youth NGO “Ecohome” from Belarus working with environmental and sustainable lifestyle issues. Young eco-activists from “Ecohome” came to Stockholm to get acquainted with the sustainability programs in Sweden and to work out ideas on how to implement these practices to Belarusian conditions. Apart from that this project became a step forward to a creation of strong and permanent collaboration between “Global Playground Stockholm” and “Ecohome” in an ecological sphere.

ImageIn this article you are given an opportunity to see this project through our eyes.

Our program was started by very interesting and useful meeting with Markus Boman working as a Program Manager at Talent Mobility Unit of the Swedish Institute.

ImageImageDay 1 st.  Transport.

Bicycle movement in Sweden had begun in early 1930th due to the relaxing atmosphere of the interwar time. It encouraged people to try new things and lifestyle and to make their habits more sustainable. In the last 10 years the quantity of bikes in Stockholm had increased by 76%. There is a very popular system in Sweden called “bicycle sharing”.

ImageThis scheme is provided by Stockholm City Bikes and today there are about 70 bike-stations over the city. You can rent a bicycle when you need for three hours and use it completely for free. But you should be a member of this organization, which appears to be really simple for Swedes.

ImageA similar system exists in neighborhoods when people can use one common vehicle for several households. It is a great way to reduce harmful emissions in the atmosphere – said Edgard Antunes Dias Batista, the main speaker of “transportation day”.

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Plus to that in Sweden electro-vehicles are widely used and we’ve been told that in Uppsala the public transport’s engines are powered by bio-gas, which is produced from the local organic waste.

ImageDay 2. Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy

ImageWe have visited Marsta (near Uppsala), where an experimental  windmill station is situated. The main trait of this project is the unusual horizontal configuration of those windmills. This project is carried out by the students of The University of Uppsala.

ImagePhD student Eduard Dyachuk showed us how to cheapen manufacturing of the windmill by installing the accumulator in the bottom part, making the whole construction smaller and horizontal rotation of the blades. In this case the problem with birds is solved, because it’s lower than usual height of the birds’ flight.

ImageDay 3. Waste Management

We had listened for the presentation on waste management and recycling processes in Sweden (presentation by Zhenya Arushanyan – a PhD student from KTH). Frankly speaking, Swedish experience was really useful for the visitors from Minsk, because in Belarus this system is rapidly developing and needs some improvements.

ImageAlso we’d visited the head office of Oriflame (visit was organized by Aliaksandra Bilinskaya). Our interest was focused basically on their success in creating of green office. We had been told how to create a recycling initiative in a working space  and ways of motivation and raising awareness level of employees.

ImageImageLater we had an opportunity to visit Hammarby Sjöstad. This district is an amazement example of sustainable principles in action. In Hammarby buildings are designed so as not to consume excessive amounts of energy and biogas and renewable energy are produced locally.

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It was very interesting to learn about Waste Management Systen in Hammarby Sjöstad.

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Day 4. Sustainable urbanism and energy

We had visited Marinstaden  –  a residential area with accommodation on the water in Nacka.

ImageIn 1999, began planning for the new residential area, is laid out in an old port facilities, not far from Nacka Strand. In total of 54 houses will be built.

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We visited the company SWECO where engineers, architects and environmental experts are working together to develop total solutions that contribute to the creation of a sustainable society. Specialist in energetic Julia Sviridonova told us about the alternative sources of energy. Geothermal energy is used more than the wind.

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Day 5. Sustainable Lifestyle

At the last day of our staying we had the most creative part – we came to founders of the brand “Uniforms for the Dedicated” that is one of the leading fashion brands in Sweden working in the sustainable direction.. despite clothing, they create music, films and furniture. Every campaign is exceptional, creative and very inspiring.

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ImageImageThey had dramatically different vision of the fashion design and combine it with environmental awareness and concern for the Earth. Natural and recyclable materials make clothes comfortable and practical. They strive for durability, strength and never create clothing for one season. Presentation was made by Creative Director at “Uniforms for the Dedicated” Fredrik Wikholm.

ImageAt the end of the day we were interviewed at the Radio Sweden.  You can read more here:

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2103&artikel=5709240

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Blog is written by Elisabeth Kovtiak with some addition by Aleh Kliatsko

Swedish Institute Alumni Event

Stockholm-Minsk research dialog on Sustainable Lifestyle and Urban Development

November 26, 2013, Minsk

Alumni event has been organized again in Minsk. This time the event under the title “Sustainable Lifestyle and Urban development” has been held at Gallery of Contemporary Art “Ў”.

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The three-hour programme included a short presentation of all guests, share their experience and interests in Sweden; the report on the project “New Urban Topologies”; the report on the sustainable district of Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm; group work on how to improve ecological situation in the city of Minsk; mingle followed by concert of a famous Belarusian singer Tatsiana Belanogaya.

The audience got acquainted with New Urban Topologies, got to know (from Vera Sysoeva – the main speaker of the event) what it is when and how it is organized and what for it is organized as well as its main aim.

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Aleh Kliatsko presented Hammarby Sjöstad as the example where all ecological ideas were put into life and showed how once the worst urban district could be changed, what steps for that were and could be taken and what ideas will be implemented in the future.

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Co-work is an important part in any business. Polina Vardevanjan, Minsk city planner shared her experience she got in Sweden and explained how even some of the ideas can be implemented and what the starting point for that is.

The group work was an essential part of the event. The group work let everyone put and express their ideas about the ecological situation and its improving.

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There wasn’t anyone who stayed away from this work. Total dedication and great enthusiasm were shown at the end of discussion.

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The closing event was the performance of a famous Belarusian singer Tatsiana Belanogaya who sang her own song in Belarusian as well as presented songs written to the verses of famous Belarusian poets.

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Thank you everyone who has visited the Alumni Event and taken part in it. We hope that you got useful ideas there and we hope that all the ideas will be put into life.

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Mikhail Kaptjug, Marina Krilova, Aleh Kliatsko

Global Playground goes sustainable fashion

“Uniforms for the Dedicated” is a fashion brand that puts sustainability in the core of everything they do. Together with creativity and art, clothing produced by the brand gets new meanings. Global Playground wanted to share inspiration with its members and took opportunity to invite them to Uniform’s store located on Södermalm.

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The company was started in 2007 by the group of young people coming from different professional backgrounds, primarily the art.

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The first impressions one can possibly get while reflecting on the name and slogan of the company “Uniforms for Dedicated” is a message contained inside of it, which seems to appeal to you by saying “dress smart – be engaged, make a difference”. This is so because the company is one of the few within its niche that has sustainable approach to creating its products, meaning using ecologically sustainable or recycled material. Dedication, creativity, inspiration and respect to the environment are the core values driving companies founders, who say themselves about their approach to working in the industry and their ideology: “By creating products and projects we believe in, within the fields we enjoy, in a manner we can be proud of, we aim to inspire ourselves and others without ever compromising our core value of treating the Earth with respect.”

This time (4 September 2013) company shared its inspiration and experience with Global Playground youth inside of its cozy store that was designed and built by its enthusiastic owners themselves and opened in September 2012. Company’s representative Michael Lind told Global Playground about the foundations and mission of “Uniforms for Dedicated”, people staying at its heart, production and designing aspects of companies work, its customers

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After taking an initial excurse into the company’s history and everyday work, curious Global Playground youth asked the speaker own questions. Some were interested in the production and design aspects, what kind of material is used, where it comes from. Others were interested to know who the customers of the company are.

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The tour into sustainable fashion industry continued with an interesting and interactive exercise. Young people were divided into two teams and were suggested to think together and exchange thoughts about sustainability issue one more time. The first group reflected more generally on the meaning of the expression “live sustainable” and brainstormed how we can achieve sustainability in everyday life. At the same time, the second group took a role type task approach to the issue how to achieve sustainability in the field of fashion by imagining yourself as a manager driving a clothing brand. Both groups produced interesting and creative solutions and ideas that they exchanged among each other.

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This is how our exciting tour into the sustainable fashion industry was made. New knowledge, ideas, inspiration and of course social interaction as usually accompanied us during and after visiting “Uniforms for Dedicated”. Not to mention of course positive emotions and great mood that we give to each other all the time!

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by Roman Lisovenko

Global Playground at the Swedish Radio

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NGO “Global Playground Stockholm”, a non-profit and non – governmental organization, was established by the Russian speaking students in Stockholm. Its major working area is sustainable development. Among its plans is the implementation of the joint projects with partner organizations in Belarus and Ukraine. Aleh Kliatsko and Oksana Udovyk are telling about serious goals and game-like methods.

ImageWe are talking with: Oksana Udovyk from Ukraine, who is a PhD student at Södertörn University, the subject of her research work is “Ecological Governance”, and Aleh Kliatsko from Belarus, PhD student of the Royal Institute of Technology, his subject area is energetics, energy conservation and urban sustainable development.

Both of them, Oksana and Aleh, initiated establishment of the NGO “Global Playground”. Explaining the choice of its name, they say that they see the world as a playground, where all people could enjoy nature, life and play together.  They say that they see future in this way. Because when we are talking about playground, we are thinking about playing, joy, mutual understanding and friendship.  This is exactly how they see the future of our planet.

In doing all this they use one of the principles of the concept of sustainable development: ”Think globally – act locally”. While understanding the global issues such as climate change and global warming, these former students act locally, – that is in Stockholm.

But is such ”playing” approach appropriate, when one talks about such serious issues?
– We are working with youth. There are many organizations that work with global ecological issues.  We wanted to find a niche, where we could do more. We are PhD students and have a good knowledge base. But the question is how we can make this knowledge accessible to the bigger amount of people in order to make them believe in change. Yes, one can call our methods “childlike”, but we want to achieve sustainable development by means of combining science and art. We don’t want the public that attends our events to fall asleep of boredom. We use different kinds of art, theater, photography, creative methods in order not only to tell, but also visually show that one can achieve global aims by using simple means.

There were a number of projects implemented in Stockholm, for example, our members planted vegetables at the rooftop of the dormitory in the centre of Gamla Stan.

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Now we can already harvest them (see photo).  

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Another project is building of a house made completely out of waste. One has a possibility to see it in the premises of the Royal Institute of Technology.

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Our members created also “Open Library” in Gamla Stan inside of the old telephone box. One can come there, live her/his books and take from others those books that one wants to read. At the same time, people can talk and get to know each other.  Image

In the long run, we have international projects. Aleh Kliatsko tells about plans regarding Belarus, because he is coming originally from there.

ImageAt the same time, Oksna Udovyk tells about the projects that involve cooperation with the Ukrainian youth. The idea is simple – to invite partner organization to Sweden in order to show, using existing achievements, what can be applied in the countries of Eastern Europe plus without any significant expenses.  To invite in order to show how this already works in Sweden.

In order to find means of financing such projects the activists of the organization apply for grants, for example, from the Swedish Institute. And they hope to get these grants.

Aleh and Oksana want to invite former students, who previously studied in Sweden and now perhaps are scattered around the world, to Ukraine. Informal means of education, for example, role games, exchange of experience – everything is for the sake of sharing the obtained knowledge and technologies that they got familiar with in Sweden with their partner organizations in Eastern Europe. 

Is it hard to register such organization or association in Sweden in order to look for financial means for own projects afterwards?
– To register is easy. To design projects and seek financial means is harder, but possible. One must fulfill requirements of different funds or organizations, to submit documents in time, then to report on the results, to fill in mass of documents, and, what is the most important from the very beginning, to find partner organization in Belarus or Ukraine. All of this requires time and knowledge, but we have already gained experience, that is why we are looking into the future with hope and faith, say our guests.

And everything started as it usually happens in the similar cases from the volunteer work, meaning from investing voluntarily and free of charge time, effort and knowledge. During two years former students had been working only using their enthusiasm. They wanted something more than just education and work on their research. “We want to make this world slightly better”, – they say with juvenile ardour, not getting embarrassed of the “high profile” of their words, intentions and their pathos.

Oksana Udovyk tells, for example, how they built a house. The small house is made completely out of waste. She tells how they were looking for waste and collected it. And it worked out! Or, in other words, the idea of the “Urban Garden” at the rooftop of the dormitory was realized.

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Everything was done again on the voluntary basis, using own efforts and own hands, one can say using sheer enthusiasm.

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Zucchini, dill, parsley, tomatos – all this makes life in the city brighter and more interesting. Soil for planting beds we found at one theater…People brought seeds, pens and basins, where we planted these seeds…A lot of things can be done without money, says Oksana. If one finds like-mined people. And if one has a strong desire. Project “Open Library” is one of such almost made-for- free projects, adds Aleh. But big projects require of course money. And one can find necessary grants.

– We have few Swedes in our organization. It is so because from the very beginning the idea was to create something for the international students in Sweden. There are many similar Swedish associations. But when students from other countries come here, very few of them know Swedish at the level necessary for participation in them. At least, at the beginning of studies. That is why we targeted our activities towards international students. In order to help them to integrate into the Swedish society. Because those who are coming don’t know too much about Sweden, but want probably to do something besides their studies or research. We want to use this enormous potential that youth has.  

The conversation with Aleh Kliatsko and Oksana Udovyk was carried out by Irina Makridova 14 August 2013 and translated from Russian to English by Roman Lisovenko.

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