Empowering Georgian Youth to Protect the Black Sea

EU and UNDP spark educational journey for a sustainable marine ecosystem

May 22, 2024
Black Sea Dolphin Monitoring
Photo: UNDP Ukraine/Elena Gladilina

High school students from seven public schools across Anaklia, Batumi, Bobokvati, Gonio, Kobuleti, and Poti engaged in dolphin monitoring alongside Georgia’s Black Sea coast. Every 10 days, using specialised protocols, they monitor and record the presence of dolphins at various locations, including Gonio and Poti.

Their learning journey started with seminars at Batumi State University where young advocates of the Black Sea, under the guidance of esteemed researchers, explored the wonders of marine biodiversity, the pressing threats to the ecosystem, and actionable steps for conservation.

Following this immersive experience, motivated students were offered a chance to participate in dolphin monitoring and effectively become Black Sea researchers.

Over the coming months, they will participate in diverse educational and environmental activities, including Clean Beach Days and guided tours of protected areas. The culmination of this learning journey will be marked in October with a celebratory gathering in Batumi for the annual Black Sea Day, uniting environmental researchers, activists, and youth.

The European Union and UNDP organised this exciting educational initiative in partnership with the National Environment Agency of Georgia's Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture. It falls under the EU/UNDP regional project 'European Union for Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea' (EU4EMBLAS), a joint initiative with the governments of Georgia and Ukraine.

Between 2014 and 2019, EU4EMBLAS spearheaded regular monitoring surveys conducted by an international team of researchers, building an understanding of the environmental status of the Black Sea.

The last research released in 2020 revealed environmental challenges, including plastic waste pollution along the Georgian coast (90.5 items per sq. km), microplastics at depths of 2,000 meters, hazardous chemical influxes, and the intrusion of invasive species. Positive biodiversity trends showcased the resilience of certain species sensitive to pollution and the return of the European oyster, previously extinct since the 1940s.

In its current phase, set to continue until April 2025, the EU4EMBLAS project remains committed to supporting governments, educational institutions, civil society, and communities in Georgia and Ukraine. The project offers targeted interventions to mitigate pollution and provides policymakers with recommendations to safeguard the Black Sea ecosystem.

About the EU4EMBLAS Project:

The 'European Union for Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea' (EU4EMBLAS) is the fourth phase of the joint EU/UNDP initiative, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the governments of Georgia and Ukraine. With its overall goal to improve the Black Sea protection, the project addresses the limitations in the availability of accurate, reliable, and comparable data on the marine environment, building national capacities of both countries to monitor the marine environment in line with the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and Water Framework Directive (WFD). Furthermore, the project assists Georgia and Ukraine in raising public awareness of the Black Sea environmental issues and facilitating engagement in conservation and protection measures. Since its inception in 2013, EU4EMBLAS has received a total EU funding of EUR 6.65 million. For more information, visit the EU4EMBLAS website.

About the European Union:

For over 30 years, the European Union has built a close partnership with Georgia, supporting its development through knowledge and experience sharing, expertise, innovation, and financial support. The relationship between the EU and Georgia is based on shared values of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights, and inclusive economic growth. More information about the EU's support in Georgia can be found at the EU4Georgia website.

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