Climate Innovators in Central and Eastern Europe
Over the last four decades, Ashoka has been working to build an Everyone a Changemaker world, a world that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges and where each individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address social problems and drive change. Of the many global challenges we face today, few are as wide-reaching as climate change. While humans have enjoyed the convenience and comfort brought about by the Industrial Revolution, many of us have also lost touch with nature and as a result, directly and indirectly contributed to global warming and climate change. As a result, for the first time in its 40-year history, in 2019 Ashoka has decided to galvanize the strength of its community on climate action, through a new global initiative – Next Now: Planet & Climate. Within this flagship initiative, we aim to change the course of history by uniting leading changemakers around audacious goals that bring people and planet to a new equilibrium. Together, this ecosystem of visionary changemakers will build a brighter future. A future that addresses and anticipates the world’s most urgent climate challenges. A future in which no one gets left behind. Because the world is changing fast and the time to act is Now.
For all these reasons, the partnership with EIT Climate-KIC has brought us great joy. We view the ecosystem mapping of climate innovators in nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe, which constitutes the object of this report, as a major first step in our global work on climate innovation. When it comes to global climate action, the scale and depth of the challenge we face as humanity is so severe, that we need moonshot goals and cathedral thinking. Yet, we first need to know who are the extraordinary women and men that can join hands, shoot for the moon and restore our planetary equilibrium. The fact we were able to do this ecosystem mapping in Central and Eastern Europe has been an honour and a privilege. The massive transformation this region went through, after half a century of oppression, is largely due to changemakers that stepped up to the mission of bringing a new vision for the region to life. A vision based on active citizenship, participation and inclusion. In this landscape, have the concerns for our planet fallen through the cracks? Statistics point out climate skepticism is wider and more far-reaching in Eastern Europe than in the West. But is it really so? If not, who are the regional champions that are driving a new wind of age? What are their obstacles and which are the opportunities they see in their work?
Our qualitative deep-dives, authored by regional experts from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia complemented a thorough quantitative network analysis in all these countries, performed with specialized teams of market analysis consultants, based on a carefully planned and tested methodology. 502 phone interviews helped us surface 827 innovators, changemakers and leading players in several fields which we saw as paramount for climate action in our region: energy efficiency in buildings, climate-smart agriculture, socio-economic transformation in post-coal regions and air pollution.