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Don't be a WASTEists! | Civic Europe
Environment and sustainability

Don't be a WASTEists!

Rural schools - local centers for sustainable growth


Who is behind this?

Matea Jarak

Croatian Biology Research Society (Hrvatsko društvo za biološka istraživanja)


Who is joining forces?

Elementary school "Antun i Stjepan Radić" Gunja



Idea pitch

Schools represent one of the basic pillars of every society. They teach children to be a part of a community and skills they'll need in future. Why not let them teach grownups and take charge? Through this project we want to create a new generation of citizens who understand the importance of social business, sustainability and green technology. Through lectures and independent work, students will learn to appreciate the environment and activate the community through sustainable food farming.

Where will your project idea take place?

5 villages/small towns in Dalmatian Hinterland and eastern continental part & 2 islands, Croatia.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Due to disconnect from urban centres these regions face a lack of civic literacy and awareness on current global issues. Students lack civic cohesion, business culture and learning activities that would shape them into active citizens we need. Instead of finding new and innovative ways to solve local problems, residents opt for migrating into larger, urban centres. By doing so, smaller settlements become barren and as they die out, so does the potential for decreasing centralization. Resource accessibility and production can play a large role in migrations from rural areas, but can be solved through implementation of green sustainable technologies. Technologies like aquaponic systems can help with year-round resource access, even in unpredictable environmental conditions.

Who are you doing it for?

With this project we’ll directly influence students in schools & develop their skills and knowledge to a point where they can spearhead the betterment of civic literacy, involvement and education through green technologies. We will guide the students through activities directly involving the local community, e.g. public forum where residents will have a chance to voice their opinions and concerns; student markets where they will present their produce; exhibitions where they can showcase the different methodologies, problems and technologies used by community predecessors. The target settlements have a total of 18 562 inhabitants that will be directly or indirectly influenced, while the schools have little over 900 students that will be involved in the project.

How do you plan to get there?

Our main task is to educate students to engage the local community through maintaining an aquaponic system as an example of „green technology“ and hold various activities that revolve around sustainability and civic education and involvement. We will undertake other activities such as lectures and public forums, helping students organize „Open days of sustainability“ in their school, fairs and exhibitions for their local community, seed collecting events for creating a seed bank and other similar forms of civic engagement. Our approach will be to maximize the student involvement in activities and events and to teach them to think of and independently coordinate new activities in their local community that will help them build a safer and cleaner future.

What are the expected results?

This proposal is a bigger and broader idea of our previous project. Based on relevant experience we’ll involve more schools, a wider range of different rural communities, and have more activities revolving around civic cohesion. Isolated towns have a low rate of active citizens and poor awareness of their civic duties and rights. Through education of these underfunded and forgotten communities we will prompt them to actively partake in local decision making and to better protect their environment. Additional knowledge and skills for developing local businesses will, in turn, help develop their local areas and also help with decentralization of the country. Elderly people will be encouraged to share their knowledge with the new generation ensuring further civic cohesion.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

To combat the lack of information flow, we aim to make local schools active parts of the civic infrastructure that allows for a swift and free passage of information through the entire community. Through this project students will gain necessary skills & knowledge to educate locals in the use and implementation of green technologies that will strengthen civic cohesion. In addition, students will pass on relevant information through a format that’s easily understandable even for the most marginalized members (e.g. elderly, minorities…). Widespread use of green technologies will also create resilient food farming that will allow everyone access to sufficient, nutritious, sustainable food whose farming has a neutral or positive impact on the environment.

Why is this idea important to you?

Our idea is that science has to be applicable, and the only true way to protect nature and environment is to have people from all walks of life work together toward sustainability. Educating students is our passion because we notice their worry for their future as well as their readiness to learn and be a part of “grown-up” world active community members. We already have a project where we teach students how to be a socially aware businessman/woman and give back to community by growing food in aquaponic systems in 2 elementary schools. We want to spread that program as far as we can and we are trying to integrate it in Croatian school program. That way, Croatian students are not only socially aware future leaders, but they also care for nature around them.

€ 52800,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

WEB SITE 8000 €

SPONSORSHIP 2800 € (municipalities, donors, volunteers...)

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

How many schools are endorsing business and sustainability programs in their curriculum? We’d love to connect with NGOs who are working with rural schools that would implement growing food in aquaponic systems in their program as a tool to learn social business and environment protection.


Matea Jarak

Marina Blažević


Valerija Aptreeva

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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