Three youth projects promoting climate action in Ukraine

Participants in the “Green shield” project

These three youth projects from Mariupol (Eastern Ukraine) were developed by participants in the UPSHIFT Youth Innovation Programme and received funding from UNICEF and the EU for implementation.

The UPSHIFT programme equips young people with the skills and resources they need to identify problems in their communities and offer innovative solutions. UPSHIFT promotes the resilience of young people, and their communities benefit from the solutions they propose. The participating teams of young people receive training in planning, teamwork and entrepreneurial skills, as well as grants to implement their ideas and long-term support from mentors.

All three projects were launched in the beginning of 2020, the teams managed to organize some activities and get some results in the first three months, but now they are on hold due to COVID-19.


Green Shield

Hello! We are students at the Mariupol College of Mechanics and Metallurgy. Nikita, 18,and Danil, 18, are future electricians; Elena, 18, and Liza, 18, are future railway traffic operators. 

Our college is located near the Azovstal metallurgy plant. Sometimes it is quite hard to concentrate during the lectures, since the road next to the plant is really noisy. However, when the noise from the vehicles on the road bothers you, hedgerow can help to reduce it. This is why we decided to develop the “Green shield” project.

The goal of the project is to plant a shield of greenery to protect the college building from the noise and dust of the road. Leaves and branches disperse, and sometimes fully absorb, sound waves. Conifers are much more effective at absorbing noise than deciduous trees. That’s why we decided to select conifer trees and bushes for our project. We drafted the project, applied to the UPSHIFT Programme, and won a grant from UNICEF and the European Union.

The Mariupol city authorities helped us to implement the project. Zelenbud (the public utility company responsible for greenery) helped with landscape design and planting. Azalia-Nova (a retail company) helped with the planting and provided instructions about how to care for the plants. As a result, we have planted a pine avenue.

The most important thing for us is to improve the city environment by joint efforts. We are grateful to the UPSHIFT programme, UNICEF and the EU for the opportunity to improve our city. 

UNICEF Ukraine

It is worth sorting here 

We are Maksym, 20, and Davyd, 19, and we are students at the Donetsk State Management University. We have been internally displaced and currently live in Mariupol (Eastern Ukraine). From the very beginning of our stay in the new city, we have paid attention to environmental issues. 

The environment is not only about industrial emissions, CO2 levels, and the disappearance of ecosystems. Everyday habits, awareness and culture also play important roles. One of the city’s problems is the lack of a habit to sort waste.

This is how our “TutVartoSortuvaty (It is worth sorting here)” project was born. The idea of the project is to provide universities and schools in the city with containers for collection of recyclable materials, such as glass, plastic and paper. The project focuses on education establishments in order to reach out to young people and teach them to be environmentally aware.

When we saw the call for applications for the UPSHIFT youth programme, we presented our idea and received a grant from UNICEF and the European Union (EU) to implement it.

Now, in addition to the containers, we are providing information about how to sort waste correctly. For this purpose, we started a Telegram-channel with all the necessary information. Moreover, with support from Mariupol Green Council, we presented the project at our university and invited a speaker for an environment workshop.

We believe, that this will kickstart creation of a culture of waste sorting in educational establishments, but also in administrative buildings, malls, parks and, finally, in the homes of people who care about where they live and what air they breathe.

UNICEF Ukraine

What’s in the air?

Have you ever though which elements are contained in the soil or water? We – 16-year-old Solomia, Sergiy, Kateryna and Oleksandra – created “EcoLab” – an eco-monitoring laboratory that cares about the environment, both at city level and globally. 

Our idea was supported through the UPSHIFT youth programme and we received funding from UNICEF and the EU to scale up our activities.

The capacity to analyse the state of the soil, water, food and even the air makes our project unique. Based on analysis and understanding of the situation, we have developed clear added value, which enables us to cooperate the other youth organizations. The laboratory is helping with the discovery of new areas for research and with keeping the environment clean. 

Working for the project also helps to develop skills for communicating with different groups of people. The activities of “EcoLab” include, for example, assisting environmental protection organizations to analyse the level of pollution, spreading awareness and suggesting solutions.

“EcoLab” is also a platform for future researchers, and the participants themselves are ready to help other organizations with their activities.

Nature is developing as fast as humanity, and the “EcoLab” is acting between the two in order to help nature develop.