Faced with the plastic pollution and a lack of awareness of environmental issues, Urim has been coordinating the organization Let’s Do It Peja since 2014. His goal: to raise people’s awareness of environmental protection for a “clean and green Kosovo”.
Environmental education: a recent issue in Kosovo
As European Union countries move towards more environmentally friendly consumption patterns, those in Kosovo have, since the end of the war in 1999, turned strongly towards plastics. Each purchase comes with plastic bags, which then join the others wastes on the streets, rivers and mountains.
According to Urim, waste management and recycling are central issues in this country, “as the companies in charge are not able to collect all the waste produced”. These issues, as well as the reduction of air pollution – mainly in Prishtina -, water pollution or deforestation are so far not government’s priorities.
Faced with this observation, Urim and his friends Anita Pasha and Valir Gruda organize a first event in 2014: a “clean-up day”. It gives them impetus to launch Let’s Do it Peja, an organization that “advocates, educates and collaborates for environmental protection and preservation in Kosovo”.
A diversity of projects based on local and international cooperation
The organization operated on a project basis. There are thus various actions: raising awareness of environmental issues, implementation of sorting bins in schools and public places, school gardens, support for municipalities in their waste management plans, etc.
Since environmental protection is everyone’s business, cooperation is essential and takes place at different levels. Initially focused on Peja, the team – composed of 7 employees – now collaborates with other municipalities in Kosovo, as well as with neighbouring countries. Thus, several projects have been set up in cross-border cooperation with Albania, Montenegro Macedonia and Serbia. For example, a project in cooperation with Albania on the protection of the Drin River Basin is running.
Focussing on youth: raising awareness today in order to see results tomorrow
Urim is aware that changing ways of thinking and acting can take decades. “Although we are not yet satisfied, we do see the beginning of a change in the behaviour of those who have been made aware of those issues”, he adds. Let’s Do It Peja’s objective is therefore to “bring as many people as we can on our board” and for this reason they mainly focus on young people. Many of their actions are addressed to them: “we like working with young people”, Urim continues, since they represent the future “we listen to their needs and visions”.
“Imagine in 15 years, the children who are now 10 years old will be educated and made aware of environmental protection and will act accordingly. This is how we see the future”.