June 30, 2021 | Wednesday
Can you tell us more about Keep it Green?
Keep It Green is a non-governmental organization that aims to protect the environment. The organization mainly operates in the city of Obiliq, but also extends to Pristina and the towns in Pristina region. The organization was initially established with the sole mission to positively change the aggravated environmental situation in Obiliq, but throughout its life, the scope of the organization has extended to include other environmental issues. The organization is funded from different funding sources for civil society organizations. So far, we have been funded by EU Funds in Kosovo, the US Embassy in Pristina, and we are happy to have been supported by the private sector in many cases. The activity of the organization was supported by the European Endowment for Democracy in the last year.
Which are the biggest environmental challenges for the moment in Kosovo, and what is your approach to them?
One of the problems that requires immediate solution is the problem of environmental pollution from the Kosovo Energy Corporation in Obiliq. Despite the fact that there is already a law prohibiting the economic operator from emitting gases into the atmosphere above the EU allowed rates, the law is a far cry from reality. KEK, as an economic operator, continues to operate in violation of the Law on Environmentally Endangered Zone of Obiliq and its Surroundings.
Being that KEK is a publicly owned company, KIG considers that the pressure should fall on the government, which, as the main shareholder of the company, bears the responsibility if the company operates in violation of the rules. The solution is as simple as it is self-evident; compliance with the Law on Obiliq, in the face of eventual cost!
What were the main activities of the organization, and what impact have they had?
Our organization has organized hundreds of activities, workshops, awareness campaigns, conferences, and debates. Environmental Activism Camp was a 3-day camp where we gathered 30 young people to discuss environmental problems in Kosovo, as well as the impact that the young people can have to solve or pave the way for solving those problems.
Another project worth mentioning is Green Art Fest, a festival of artistic creation that aims to convey encouraging messages for environmental protection. GAF has been organized for 3 years in a row, but the breakout of the pandemic made it difficult to organize the festival last year. Also, through the “Law on Obiliq – Know your rights” Project, we have organized information campaigns on citizens’ rights enshrined in the Law on Environmentally Endangered Zone of Obiliq and its Surroundings.
In addition, the KIG continues to monitor the implementation of the Law and inform the community of their rights that are being violated.
What were the biggest achievements of your organization, and what are the biggest challenges that you are facing?
One of the things that makes us feel good as an organization is the assistance that we have provided to push forward the Law on the Environmentally Endangered Zone of Obiliq and its surroundings. In addition, we are happy to have given hundreds of young people the opportunity to network through our programs and projects. The problems we are facing as a society are not of the kind that came be resolved with great and isolated achievements, but with small advances spread in several directions. That is what we are trying to do. The challenges that we are facing as an organization are the following: How to maximize impact; how to include as many young people as possible in our work; and how to boost organisation’s capacities at the service of the first two points! Also for us as an organization, the pandemic was another challenge. In addition to the shock and human death toll, it has taught us new forms of organization, by keeping our distance and increasing our safety! We are still learning these methods, and they turn out to be very effective! So, we have to get used to these methods, because I have an impression that they will live very long! It is worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many projects and agendas of the organisation, which had to be adjusted to the newly created circumstances.
Your organization encourages young people to be active and advocate environmental protection. How difficult is it to do that and how environmentally conscious are the young people?
There is no doubt that the young people in Kosovo face unemployment, despite their tremendous potential. In this situation, young people’s interest in active involvement in environmental protection is not at the desired levels. Therefore, our organization aims to have this topic on young people’s table of discussion, because it affects their lives directly. The interest is growing year after year, but the pace of the growth can definitely improve! For many problems in this area, there is a misconception that the danger is far away, that the damage that is being done does not bother me personally, or that the consequences will be borne future generations. Global warming is an exemplary illustration of this: 1. The danger is closer than ever; 2. Exceeding temperatures by 1.5 – 2 degree Celsius will affect your lifestyle; 3. The consequences will be borne by this generation and future generations as well!