The students first came together to share ideas on eco-innovation at a camp organised in Sandane in Norway in 2015. One of their resulting initiatives is ‘EnergyGround’ which will see children’s playgrounds turned into small green energy production plants and environmental education centres. Movement from activities like skipping and bike pedalling will be converted into energy using special equipment fitted with sensors and photovoltaic panels.
The Greenovation Challenge is a partnership project on environmental education developed by Junior Achievement Romania. Funded under the NGO programme in Romania, the project is designed to help young people better understand environmental challenges facing rural and mountain communities and develop their problem-solving skills.
“The project responds to specific problems in Romanian mountain areas, such as depopulation, economic migration, high unemployment, and increased pressure on nature from tourism. By involving young people, and developing their skills, we are supporting a more sustainable development in these areas,” explains Alice Duțu from Junior Achievement Romania.
Norwegian organisation ‘Ungt Entreprenørskap Sogn og Fjordane’ (an organisation for youth entrepreneurship) is participating as the partner.
“The project facilitates creativity and innovation among the students, and allows them to engage in valuable discussions and exchange ideas. We contribute by sharing our experiences and best practices on environmental education and sustainable development of mountain areas in Norway,” says Jørn Helgheim from Ungt Entreprenørskap Sogn og Fjordane.
Helgheim also highlighted the need for the project, and the positive experiences the students gain:
“The future is green. So is future employment. The project facilitates international cooperation between teachers, students and volunteers from Romania and Norway, and lays the foundation for future collaboration on environmental challenges,” Helgheim concludes.
For the Romanians, learning from this good practice has been one of the most inspiring parts of the project:
“Ecological education is an important component of the curriculum in the Norwegian school system. In general, Norway is recognised as a promoter of policies that aim to protect the environment. For us, this partnership was a great opportunity to adapt best practices and ideas from Norway," said project promoter Alice Duțu.
The experience has proved very valuable for the students, not just in terms of the learning on environmental issues but also for personal development:
“Through this experience, I’ve developed self-confidence and overcome fears and limitations. I’ve made good friends, but most importantly, I’ve understood that environmental concerns are the same, regardless of frontiers and language,” said Teodora Elena Ghiuta from Romania.
The project Greenovation Challenge is run in partnership with Ungt Entreprenørskap Sogn og Fjordane (UESoF) from Norway and Romontana Association, and involves over 950 students and 50 high school teachers from mountainous areas in Romania and Norway. The project is financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the Romanian NGO Fund.
'Developing green innovators of the future' - a project story from Bulgaria, where Bulgarian and Norwegian youth met at an International Eco Camp in Bulgaria to learn about environmental challenges and how to come up with green business ideas.