Climate Dialogues project returned in 2023 with a renewed commitment to empower climate activists and experts as trainers. Implemented by Climate Action Network Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) with help from Bread for the World, in partnership with Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), this project aimed to strengthen the capacities of regional leaders in climate change, energy independence, as well as bring gender justice and decolonization perspectives to the table. The project unfolded in two significant phases: a training program held in Tbilisi, Georgia, from May 24-28, and subsequent online engagements and initiatives implemented by the participants.
Forming the final list of the project participants took a few months for the project team and partners. We received a total of 151 applications to participate in the project , which indicates the widespread enthusiasm for climate activism in the EECCA region. The selection process was conducted in two stages (application and interview), aimed to bring a diverse group of participants representing different countries and backgrounds. Ultimately, 22 individuals were invited from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
The project kicked off with an immersive training program in Tbilisi, Georgia, designed to equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills. The diverse curriculum covered topics ranging from decolonization to climate change science and policies, climate justice, energy independence, facilitation and effective communication. Speakers with diverse backgrounds such as Teona Dalakashvili (Georgia), Nurzhan Estebes (CAN EECCA, Kyrgyzstan), Mariam Devidze (Green Alternative, Georgia),Ketevan Vardosanidze (Climate Basics, Georgia) and Aleksey Ovchinnikov (Green Network, Belarus) fostered an environment of collaborative learning.
Post-training, participants shared their reflections. One participant from Kyrgyzstan remarked, “I opened in more depth the topics of decolonization, gender justice, how energy is important, how important communication is, and how to conduct events correctly and interestingly. “Another participant appreciated the diverse perspectives, stating, “I truly enjoyed connecting with all the wonderful people at the training. It was inspiring to hear their ideas and perspectives on climate change. I look forward to our future opportunities to collaborate!”
The engagement didn’t stop in Tbilisi, it continued online. On September 21, a lively webinar brought together the project participants and trainers. Conversations ranged from motivations for climate activism to reflections on the current challenges of being young activists in crisis contexts. The discussions also touched upon the environmental consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine as well as the connection between fossil fuels and conflicts.
The impact of the project could be truly seen as Climate Dialogues participants translated their learning into action. Initiatives spanned diverse areas, showcasing the breadth of the project’s influence.
Zhamilya Koshek from Kazakhstan organized a discussion on the risks of nuclear power plants, drawing attention to alternative renewable energy resources.
Nailya Mussaeva and Tinatin Maghedani engaged their communities in Kazakhstan and Georgia with the “Keep Cool” game, enhancing climate policy awareness among the young activists.
Ilinca Modrinca in Moldova focused on climate change and gender inequality, fostering engagement through discussions in rural youth communities.
Elena Kan and Gulnara Khudaibergenova in Uzbekistan conducted sustainability workshops, reaching approximately 150 participants with topics like climate change, ecological issues, and zero-waste principles.
Anisa Abibuloeva in Tajikistan empowered young activists with sustainability workshops, conducted by trained facilitators in Dushanbe and Khujand.
Anara Alymkulova in Kyrgyzstan educated local farmers in Cholpon on climate-resilient technologies, covering climate change issues and practical skills.
In looking back at the Climate Dialogues journey of 2023, the results are clear in the various actions taken by participants from across the region. From lively discussions in Tbilisi to online gatherings bringing minds together across borders, the project has planted seeds of change and cross regional solidarity. We have witnessed how a multitude of backgrounds, languages and experiences bring together a powerful new generation of changemakers in the EECCA region. As we wave goodbye to this year, we eagerly anticipate 2024 for Climate Dialogues growing and evolving to explore different ways of collaboration, fostering solidarity across regions and embracing the collective power needed to tackle the issue of climate change and co-creating a sustainable future together.