Stara Zagora is a region dependent on coal-based energy production. With the Green Deal this has to change, but there is a lack of dialogue for the future of the region with the local population. We will empower locals to be informed and participate in the decision making process. We will engage experts, policymakers, scientists and other stakeholders to create a guide for sustainable innovation that can be used when plans for the economic alternatives for the region in the future are made.
Region of Stara Zagora - highly-dependant on coal-energy production in south Bulgaria
The project is focused on exploring the level of civic engagement among locals on the subject of the green future of the region and based on the analysis of the results we will support better informed and knowledgeable on this matter. We will facilitate that locals understand the ways they can influence and participate in the decision making process on local, regional, national and international level. In most of the cases the public opinion on this sensitive topic is influenced by media with fake news, politicians and even on social media. Encouraging the locals to be better informed and aware of how they can affect the decisions and policies about the sustainable future of the region will make their voice on this matter heard.
Mainly the local population - Stara Zagora is one of the two regions in Bulgaria that has lost a lot of its population over the last 10 years (according to the National Statistics Institute of Bulgaria) - almost 10% of the population has migrated (around 38 000 people). Closing down the power plants without a decent plan for sustainable development and future will be castraphophy in economical, demographic and social point of view for the region. We aim at engaging the local people and empower them to have active voice and contribute to the decision-making process for the energy future of the region that can be both sustainable and economically viable.
In the project we foresee 4 specific activities that will be evenly distributed among project partners;
Activity 1: Survey of the attitudes of the locals regarding the topic of transition to a low-carbon economy and the alternatives to the region in the direction of biotechnologies and innovations - the topics of the survey are described above.
The results of this activity (analysis) will be the starting point for activity 4.
Activity 2: Social dialogue with citizens, biotechnology and innovation experts, institutions, businesses, and other stakeholders who have an overview of the topic - four thematic meetings to identify future scenarios for the region and lay the foundations for a roadmap for innovative technologies that could reduce the economic and social consequences of closure.
Activity 3: Compilation of a Guide for sustainable innovation with economic alternatives for the region through biotechnology and other innovations, which will serve as a starting point for all people who would work on the topic and build on the experience already gained at local level - this is a document that collects all recommendations from the meetings with the experts and formulate them in guidelines for the development of innovative industries in the region.
Activity 4: Handbook for citizens on how they can participate in the decision-making process for the future of the region.
The project will have two main outputs - one directed to citizens and the other one - to experts and policymakers. The handbook for citizens on how they can participate in the decision-making process for the future of the region will be promoted among the locals and will give them knowledge about the decision-making process and how they can influence it. The guide for sustainable innovation with economic alternatives for the region will be promoted as a reference point to any experts, policymakers, and decision-makers that take any action or development projects for the sustainable future of the region.
Our main tool will be the handbook for citizens on how they can participate in the decision-making process for the future of the region. It will be developed based on the survey that outlines the level of involvement and expectations of civic participation.
The trio of project partners is the perfect team of organizations to implement such projects - the lead partner SZREDA has experience with similar projects on local level and has 25 years of experience as one of the key factors for local economic development having expertise in driving social engagement. The Health & Life Sciences Cluster has the expertise to map biotechnology and other innovative industries that can be new economic driver for the regions and there is already potential in place to be implemented. Trending Topics SEE is the partner responsible for communication and dissemination of project activities - the media is recognized as regional leader on subjects related to innovation and sustainability.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Survey - 3000 EUR;
Social Dialogue events - 5 000 EUR;
Communication and Dissemination + PR activities - 7 000 EUR;
Handbook for citizens on how they can participate in the decision-making process for the future of the region - 6 000 EUR;
Guide for sustainable innovation with economic alternatives for the region - 6 000 EUR;
Staff costs - 8 000 EUR
Any feedback from organizations that have worked on such issues in the past will be more than welcome!