Environment and sustainability, Youth participation and empowerment

Exploring Pathways to an Ecological Renaissance winner

Community walk from the past to a sustainable future for Vukovar


Who is behind this?

Goran Jelenic

PRONI - Info Centre for Youth Vukovar



Who is joining forces?

Association “TATAVAKA”



Green Network of Activist Groups (ZMAG)



Technical School Nikola Tesla



Satelit (with Croatian Permaculture, pioneering NGO founded in 1995) is a team of experienced educators on integrative sustainability and participatory teamwork. Contribution: participatory leadership


Idea pitch

Vukovar in Croatian means sacrifice, war memories, divided community tied up to the past. Past engulfs the present tightly as 2021 marks 30 years since the city fell.
Mindful of unhealed wounds our group explores a chance to open up a bit more space, a few more hearts to tackle challenges of present-future:climate/biodiversity crisis, consumerist culture, outdated economic model. Our learning circle of community leaders is to co-create a vision: an ecological & peaceful renaissance for Vukovar

Where will your project idea take place?

Vukovar, Eastern Croatia, confluence of Vuka and Danube rivers

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

In 1991 Vukovar went from being one of the most prosperous cities in ex-Yugoslavia to bomb shelled rubble devoid of what makes a city. In the words of Siniša Glavašević, Vukovar’s last standing journalist, “The City, that is You.” Silence that followed is still felt.
Many returned. Many didn’t. Next generation grew up with the burden of loss and the weight of belonging to conflicted groups.
November 2021 will mark 30 years since the city fell. Reflections of past dominate and very often cloud the challenges of today and tomorrow. Climate change is felt already, with droughts and floods hitting the region. Ways defined by a consumerist culture don’t support the development of sustainable lifestyle. People’s focus is on the past and there is not enough capacity to deal with what’s coming.

Who are you doing it for?

According to the 2011 census 27,683 people live in Vukovar. Before the war the population was ethnically mixed while now Croatian and Serbian groups are dominant groups. Some parts of industry recovered but unemployment is still high, especially among young people. For them it is often difficult to find means to stay. Conflicts motivated by national differences still occur.
Our project will focus mostly on young community leaders and young people with leadership potential. We want to give them a chance to learn about the challenges our world faces today and to build their capacity to respond to them.
It is important to stress that our intention is to foster conversation of resilience and adaptation to a changing environment. Not to impose any kind of external reconciliation practices.

How do you plan to get there?

Our walk will take us through four stages of the implementation:

We will set up team communication and project management protocols. We will define a communication strategy and activity timeline. We will establish contacts with all community stakeholders and external collaborators.

Based on the input provided by PRONI and Nikola Tesla school, with their support Tatavaka, ZMAG and Satelit will design a 5-month educational program. It will focus on local action for responding to climate crisis, forming a vision of a common, sustainable future for Vukovar and gaining management and communication skills needed for translating this vision into concrete community actions. Agroecology will be a prominent theme as food is a connecting factor for people.

In learning phase at least 3 groups will be formed, defined by participants needs and interests, around specific climate action themes they chose. Groups will work on implementing their plans, supported by the project team. A toolkit will be devised, documenting the process and providing additional resources for the groups.

We will gather for a final event presenting the results of all 3 (or more) direct actions undertaken. Aside from a public event (in accordance with health situation) we will do a reflection circle to evaluate our work.

What are the expected results?

• 20 community leaders (majority under 35) gained insight into main challenges of our time complemented by basic skills for responding to them
• at least 3 meaningful and concrete community climate actions prepared and implemented
• at least 50 school children educated on basics of climate change
• 1 toolkit for tackling climate change locally designed and published
• results of local projects presented to at least 80 people from Vukovar and local/regional/national decision-makers

LONGTERM CHANGE: A common vision for a path towards a sustainable future gave inspiration and hope to people, leading to greater engagement in community life. Young leaders bring innovating projects and work together to achieve a peaceful and ecological renaissance in Vukovar.

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

Focusing primarily on youth, our educational programme is devised with the pivotal purpose of building self-confidence by giving youth a solid ground of skills and experience to stand on.
Participants will get a better understanding of climate crisis marking our time through the Climate Collage game as a collaborative process. They will map the resources of Vukovar community using tools such as “8 Kinds of Community Wealth” and devise strategies on how to protect them through the Fresco of Ecological Renaissance. They will analyse stakeholders influencing local policies shaping their local ecosystem.
They will put this knowledge to use through their own community actions and we will together distil the experience we went through into a manual for tackling climate change on a local level

Why is this idea important to you?

Our team is a mix of people from Vukovar and other small communities thematically linked to sustainability issues we work on:
Ivana and Dubravka (Tatavaka): 15+ years in project management/(non-)formal education
Goran (PRONI): 20+ years in PRONI & Vukovar Youth Centre
Veljko and Ana (Satelit): (inter)national project and learning experience in sustainability of small rural places
Drazen (ZMAG): 20+ years of research and innovation in regenerating social and food production relationships
Maja (Nikola Tesla school): extensive experience in management of schools’ ecological projects
What brought us together is a sense of hope, grounded in experience we gathered in all of our communities. We have a track record in change making and a seed of vision of a sustainable future in Vukovar.

€ 45000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs: 25000 EUR
Salaries of team members, all project partners (%)

External services costs: 3000 EUR
Subcontracted external experts (e.g. design of visual identity, collaborators).

Travel costs: 3000 EUR
Costs of travel and stay in Vukovar over 12 months of the project, incl. rent of premises.

Local actions costs: 7000 EUR
Costs of implementing actions devised by community groups.

Communication and administration costs: 7000 EUR
Public events, communication, admin.

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We grow through feedback and learning. For this reason, we would be grateful to get advice and experience from the Civic Europe "living practice of democracy" community. Most concretely, we would love to hear the experiences of organisations working in divided, post-conflict communities.

Project Journey

Road to impact

Beginning of the Ecological Renaissance in Vukovar

As part of the Exploring Pathways to an Ecological Renaissance, a learning phase has begun, which includes the design and implementation of a 5-month educational program focusing on local action to respond to the climate crisis, forming a vision of a common, sustainable future for Vukovar and acquiring management and communication skills visions into concrete community actions. For this purpose, students of the Technical School Nikola Tesla from Vukovar on November 29 and 30 participated in an interesting and educational workshop called Climate Collage, which aimed to raise awareness of the problem of climate change. In addition to providing scientific facts, this activity develops the creativity and communication of the participants. The workshop was held in the newly opened Intercultural School Center, and the leaders were Ivana and Dubravka from the Tatavaka Association from Zagreb, which is one of the partners in this project. The continuation of interesting workshops is planned for the end of January 2022.

PRONI Centre on Jan. 11, 2022


PRONI Centre

Veljko Armano Linta


Idea created on April 26, 2021
Last edit on Nov. 10, 2021

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