On August 2-8, 2015 the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation hosted 55 people from Georgia, Armenia, Germany, Croatia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Turkey and Russia in Tskhaltubo town (Georgia) in the frameworks of its newly initiated Green Academy. The 6-day event aimed to develop a platform for young green activists, journalists and scientists to assist the currently ongoing process of civic activism towards protection of the environment and cultural heritage, issues of social justice and gender democracy in Georgia. The two main thematic frameworks for the Green Academy were Green Transformation and Democratic Political Culture and Gender Equality for Green Politics.
Spectrum of political ideologies in the EU and the South Caucasus, failure of Green movements in the South Caucasus in 1990-s, urban protests and civic culture, ecological transformation and politics, gender democracy and green politics, green perception of political representation, and many other issues related to social, political and economic developments in the South Caucasus and in its neighborhood had been discussed during the Green Academy. Distinguished guests of the Academy Ms. Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, member of the German parliament (2009-2013) from the Alliance '90/The Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) and Mr. Claude Weinber, who greatly assisted establishment of the HBF Israel and HBF EU offices, and launching of the Green European Foundation, gave a deep introduction to Green politics and civic activism in Germany and broader in the EU. Official part of the working day was accompanied by evening screenings and discussions led by representatives and partners of the HBF offices in Russia, Turkey and Berlin (Germany).
Discussions around the round table and in the auditorium were not the only purpose of the Green Academy. Participants of the Academy had an opportunity to check their knowledge and experiences in the field and to tackle sensitive issues of social, economic and political transformation taking place in Georgian society. Importance of Being Relevant was the workshop by Mr. Viktor Voronkov, social scientist and founder of the Center of Independent Social Research from Saint Petersburg (Russia), which gave insight to tools for observation and analysis over the social changes. Four groups of Green Academy participants conducted improvised field research and presented its outcomes on gender issues, on local self-governance and quality of public services, on living conditions in collective centers for internally displaced persons and on representation of soviet past in daily life. This kind of practicum went on next day when all the participants of the academy were invited for a tour to Tkibuli (mining town in Imereti region of Georgia). HBF SC partners Ms. Manana Kochladze (Association Green Alternative) and Ms. Anano Tsintsabadze (Human Rights Monitoring and Education Center – EMC) hosted the presentation and discussion Power and Politics against the Environment and Social Rights in Tkibuli. Speakers shared their observations based on experiences gained in frames of the HBF SC project aimed at raising awareness on ecological and labor rights among miners and affected communities. They vividly described how economic interests of certain business men define country’s energy policies and how this affects environment and social development in areas producing minerals for energy plants. Afterwards Ms. Luiza Laperadze, local activist and feminist artist offered a tour to the Tkibuli town that allowed observing the way this tiny city underwent since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Green Academy 2015 in Tskhaltubo was the first step undertaken by the HBF SC for promoting deliberation space on sustainable development and ecological transformation in the South Caucasus. Nevertheless the fact the Academy was predominantly Georgian this year the HBF SC is planning to broaden it to other parts of the South Caucasus. Enthusiasm and willingness of green activists and researchers ensure the HBF SC further steps should be undertaken for deeper democratization of the societies and for improving environment for dignified life for people of the South Caucasus region.
Feedback from participants: