Considering the special conditions we have all over the world with COVID-19, Green Academy is the best platform to start critical reflections on the political and socio-economic consequences of the Coronavirus in the South Caucasus region. As during all previous years, Green Academy will unite critical analysis of the most important discussions around the topic, and together with well-established pool of experts, social and political thinkers we will brainstorm socially and ecologically sustainable responses to the upcoming economic and social challenges in the countries.
Coronavirus has helped to intensify discussions on the critical social-economic problems, be it healthcare system, labor issues, housing, public space etc and revealed the importance to rethink the role of state and collective actions to address those problems. If we observe global trends, the pandemic has disclosed the consequences of neoliberal processes and re-granted the weakened powers to the neoliberal states in order to bring the situation ‘under control’.
In Georgia and Armenia, the most vulnerable groups have never been so visible as they are now: 1. Homeless people or those facing homelessness due to Indebtedness and evictions; 2. People employed in the service sector without any regulations; 3. Labor migrants, whose remittances have been saving thousands of households from poverty since the collapse of the Soviet Union; 4. Care workers (paid and unpaid) that appeared to play crucial role during the pandemic; 5. Small businesses and enterprises including those in tourism which has been the main economic development direction of Georgian government for recent years, 6. as well as women victims of domestic violence and members of the LGBTQI community.
In parallel to that, current discussions what should be the economic policy of the government after the crisis in order to regain minimal economic growth, leaves room for fundamental reflections and the challenge of the mainstream debates. The government of Georgia makes statements about more aggressive economic growth and highlights the importance of the most controversial infrastructure projects in various regions of Georgia that have been protested for a long time by the locals due to the negative social and environmental effects. Same approach will affect the cities, where despite the renewed civil movements against some private projects, the municipalities are making decisions in favor of the private developers rather than the actual needs of the city and those who are living there.
Thus, it is more timely than ever to discuss the short and long term future of the South Caucasus and develop concepts and ideas of new ways of the civil society and community mobilizations that will participate and affect the political processes of the countries.
Therefore, Green Academy 2020 aims to reflect on the global, national and local processes described above through three main thematic pillars:
- Coronavirus and its global and local socio-economic and ecological effects
- Urban Development with the main focus on the role of state, housing and gentrification
- Emancipatory community development and self-organizing in the regional context