Climate Caravans is a new programme lasting from January to October 2022 and is funded within the Culture of Solidarity Fund by the European Cultural Foundation and the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. The project is run by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and is developing creative tools on how to reflect with cultural means upon specific local transformations caused, directly or indirectly, by climate change. They involve 6 European regions (Brandenburg, the Baltic Sea on the Curonian Spit, Kraków, St. Petersburg region, Apulia and Northern Netherlands) and collectively, they work on designing site-specific camps for local youngsters and active citizens engaging for climate justice in their neighbourhoods. Through trans-European cooperation, the project fosters solidarity among citizens involved through cultural education and supports local engagement. We interviewed program lead and grantee, Barbara, who shared with us the progress of the project despite the COVID restrictions and the war on Ukraine.
The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is a network of civil society organisations between the European Union and Russia. It was funded 10 years ago by other non-governmental organisations to build up a strong network of civil society to help in coordination of projects, advocacy and enhancing structures. There is a variety of topics the forum works on such as human rights, media, gender, historical memory, culture of remembrance, climate and culture initiatives. The climate caravans idea evolved as a product of the pandemic, aiming at restructuring new ways of working on the topic of climate with cultural and creative methods at a local and regional level. On one hand, climate caravans act local and create online formats, methodologies and practices focused on climate while the people who participate stay in their regions. On the other hand, climate caravans travel through Europe to share these experiences and connect with actors from all the different areas. This way, best practices are exchanged and attention is growing on how climate affects citizens and their communities.
How the climate caravans deal with global challenges?
The Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions around the different regions, resulted in new and more local ways of working for the climate caravans. The war has put a lot of pressure on the project. On one hand, certain partners that are located in Russia are getting censored by the Russian government, but also, some decided to relocate to other countries as a result of the war. Climate and environmental issues were topics previously discussed in the country and the climate movement in Russia became an important part of civil society. The war has changed a lot, but the team is showing resilience and is welcoming new partners that want to come on board.
The project moves forward with the motto “Acting locally and thinking globally” and addresses climate related issues such as drought, sea rising levels, wild fires and others that are global issues with local consequences. How climate affects regions is a very vivid example of how the team works with climate caravans.
Program lead Barbara has confessed. Barbara has explained to us how their project touches upon elements that are shared amongst all European or global citizens. Basic needs, dignity, justice, climate justice, the right to future and to live in a sustainable world are shared values. As a matter of fact, when it comes to European shared sentiments, it’s about sharing similar history and basic needs for common future with our rich diversity of languages, manners, ways or even misunderstandings as part of our cultural identity.
By engaging citizens in local activities and sociocultural projects, and developing strong local tools, climate caravans empowers and strengthens social participation as a huge step in solidarity towards other parts of Europe. This project strives to serve as prototypes of how to use creative tools to work with cultural practices on climate change in the different regions. While the project is in progressing motion, the team is currently working on a toolkit of best practices that will also be used as a means of advocating for climate justice on a local, regional and European governance level.
Granted: 59991 euros