Temo Geldiashvili, 16 years old, is one of the young climate ambassadors in Georgia. He lives in the village of Zemo Khodasheni (2 hrs drive from the capital Tbilisi) with his parents and two sisters. Temo goes to the Atskuri school, which is located in the nearest village, up to 2 km. away from his home. There is a widespread cliché that young people in villages are passive and reluctant to engage in their communities. Temo being active, energetic, sociable, and bright, is the embodiment of quite the opposite.
“Being a climate ambassador is a big responsibility. As a boy living in a village, I have a strong connection with nature. I have been caring for ecology and the environment since childhood. I take pride in cardboard waste bins that I placed in my village to collect waste that people would otherwise throw in the streets. But an invitation to attend a green camp and become a climate ambassador came unexpected to me,” Temo said.
The Atskuri Public School Temo attends is one of the recipients of grants issued by the project to reduce risks of climate-driven disasters. In the event of heavy rain, the Atskuri school was regularly flooded by otherwise innocuous river Berkheva. The project Temo and his like-minded friends presented aimed at addressing the problem. The project won the grant. As a result, a drainage canal was cut in front of the school that returns the water from the riverbed to the Berkheva gorge.
“We were invited to present the project at the Tsinandali school. We learnt there about the green camp and we eagerly got involved in,” Temo added.
The green camps aim at catalyzing youth climate leadership by enabling participants to: connect, experience teamwork, learn about climate change and its solutions, and get guidance on how to creatively communicate their knowledge and present projects. At the end of training sessions, each team is expected to draft and implement climate actions in their communities, and to share their knowledge with community representatives.
“I provide awareness raising training in my community. I am happy with my fellows. They are active and eager to learn more about climate change induced catastrophes and mitigation measures. Regardless of my future profession, I’m determined to continue working in the field of ecology and environmental protection. One thing I am sure about – if we will not take care of the planet, who will?” Temo said.
More than 100 young climate ambassadors have already attended summer camps and 15 climate actions were implemented in their communities. The selection criteria include, but are not limited to: past experience, passion for climate solutions and sustainable development, willingness to share knowledge, and motivation to take action.
The green camps are organized by the Environmental Information and Education Center within the framework of the larger-scale Strengthening the Climate Adaptation Capacities in Georgia project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme with financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Green Climate Fund, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.