CleanR Grupa: Environmental education in Latvia calls for strategic approach

26 Jun 2024

The results of Šūna, the first ever pop-up space devoted to environmental education in Latvia, reveal the need for a strategic approach to environmental education in our country not only for students but also adults and entrepreneurs, states Agita Baltbārde, the author of the idea of Šūna and Member of the Board at CleanR Grupa.    

Baltbārde added that the environmental education pop-up space also functioned as a pilot project to find the themes and formats which most effectively engage people in discussions about environmental sustainability, circular economy, environmental protection, and climate change, raising awareness and encouraging change of behavior and habits in society.

“After eight weeks and over 60 events, we see that there are people who already feel strongly about environment-related issues, those who have just begun taking a more active interest, and there are also sceptics. Therefore, it is essential to approach people in the right way depending on their age and level of interest. Šūna offered data, lectures, masterclasses, and workshops, multimedia performances, exhibitions, even a tomato festival and paper casting and silk-screening labs. Each person is attracted to something else, yet the message conveyed by all the activities was one—we may live and operate in an environment-friendly way, reduce the amount of waste we generate, and make a positive effect on our future and climate,” explains Baltbārde.

The Šūna organizers believe that the state should devise a strategic approach to environment-related issues to develop an understanding that climate change mitigation is not only the responsibility of the European Union or state institutions but starts with each person and their behavior.  While keeping in mind the general environmental aims, people should be equipped with the necessary tools and skills that help change their habits, thus encouraging global change.

The CleanR Grupa Member of the Board also revealed that the Šūna partners have a common understanding about awareness-raising activities, climate-related questions, and incentives to change habits, stating that these themes should already be part of pre-school and school curriculum. At the same time, there should also be informal education spaces available to various audiences.

“At Šūna we observed that people not only are ready to take part passively by listening and watching but also are willing to get actively involved in activities that are simple and easy, therefore it is important to start with “baby steps”.   If we need to reduce plastic, then we should show the alternative. If we need to reduce consumption, we need to teach people how to mend things for them to last longer,” emphasizes the sustainability expert.

The environmental education pop-up space was set up in the heart of Riga between the Latvian National Art Museum and Art Academy from April 25 to 19 June this year. It included around 60 events organized by 24 organizations, including municipality and state institutions, 22 lecturers and tutors, a total of more than 80 different partners.

The events were created to address different age groups. During the eight weeks, Šūna was attended by around 2000 people. The youth-oriented unique multimedia performance I’m not a greenhead! was watched by 407 pupils.

“We believe that our pilot project with various communicative and educational activities was a success. We have acquired new knowledge on how to reach, approach, and address different audiences.   This will help us in our future projects. Also, we will seek to implement our projects in places outside Riga,” states Baltbārde.

As reported, Šūna was CleanR’s, the CleanR Grupa largest and Latvia’s leading waste management company, gift to Latvian people on its 80th anniversary. That was the first and only pop-up space in Latvia where its visitors could learn more about the environment, climate change and their role in it.

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