Participation in training: Young leaders for sustainable future

Between 9 and 20 July 2012 a regional training on sustainable energy and transport entitled “Young leaders for sustainable future” was held on the island of Šolta, Croatia. A total of nineteen representatives of organizations from Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina took part in this event.

The purpose of the training, organized by the Croatian NGO “Zelena akcija,” is to educate and encourage volunteers and NGO representatives in activities related to sustainable development. This is the tenth year that a training of this type has been offered at the Solar Academy in Šolta, a unique example of transformation of a former military station into an international education centre with programs focused on topics of sustainable development and environmental protection.

The training consisted of three blocks of activities: lectures and workshops on public advocacy actions and campaigns, practical workshop on production of solar collectors for water heating and a workshop on production of bio-diesel from waste cooking oil.

The first part of the training included presentations on basic concepts in renewable energy sources and European transport policies. The role of civil society in defining national and international energy policies was discussed. Several examples of awareness raising campaigns of “Zelena akcija” were presented – actions in Gundulićeva and Varšavska Streets in Zagreb left the impression of being particularly effective in turning the attention of the public to the problems of misuse of urban spaces, violation of urban plans and lack of a transparent process of urban decision making.

The first block also included lectures about environmental legislature, as well as lectures on examples and significance of youth activism. This part of the training was concluded with two practical workshops. The first workshop was a simulation of the procedure of public debate, related to a fertiliser factory project in a small tourist town, while in the second workshop the participants designed and performed a street action against the construction of a new coal power plant.

The practical workshop on production of solar collectors was particularly interesting. The process of production was completely tailored to those who have never used wood or metal tools, and as a result, two collectors with an area of about 4m2 were produced. These solar collectors are most likely going to be donated. The Solar academy has a system with five very similar collectors (close to 10m2) used for heating the shower water.

During the last workshop, 50 litres of used olive and palm oil were successfully processed into bio-diesel. All the phases of this process were described and demonstrated in detail, and although the final product was not tested (it takes several days before the remaining glycerine sets), we could see that the instructor used similarly produced bio-diesel to arrive from Zagreb to Šolta.

In addition to the lectures and workshops, one of the most valuable aspects of this training was the opportunity to bring together young activists and NGO members from the region. It was fantastic to meet the other participants, to work with them, to find out more about their organizations’ work and to discuss possibilities for future joined projects.

Solar collector production – notes and sketches here.

Original article can be found here.

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