EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell delivered a statement at the presentation of new Environment and Agriculture school programmes by the Ministry of Enviromment Protection and Agriculture on 13 October 2020.
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Dear Ministers, Deputy Minister, fellow speakers, ladies and gentlemen,
In the middle of an important election campaign that takes a lot of everyone’s attention and time, one has to make hard priorities when it comes to engaging on other topics.
I came here today, not because education about environmental issues is the most pressing issue here in Georgia for the moment. Nor because it will necessarily be seen as the most important challenge either in the coming few years. But because this agenda, and the threat of climate change, looks likely to become the biggest global, strategic challenge of this century.
That is why the European Union has taken a lead globally to advance the fight against climate change. And that is why the Green Agenda, together with the Digital Agenda, were embedded as the two strategic priorities within the EU’s agreed post-Covid recovery plans.
And that is why the European Union is already spending about 10% of its total assistance to Georgia in the field of the environment.
And that is why our substantial support to Georgian agriculture has the objective to prioritise eco- and bio-friendly production methods, drawing on Europe’s own best practices.
As most of us know today, these are not altruistic objectives, but fundamental ones. And, as we have learned over the years, not necessarily objectives that have to be very costly. Especially if you start early.
Awareness raising and education are key to our collective efforts. Without information there won’t be knowledge, and without knowledge there won’t be wisdom.
In my own home country, Sweden, the most famous environmental activist – possibly the most famous environmental activist globally of late – is Greta Thunberg, who is still a teenager. And it is only logical that this is an issue that engages the younger generation. And an issue where the younger generation has every right to be demanding – given that every opportunity lost today, will translate into a problem tomorrow.
Education on these matters is crucial for success. And education needs to take place from an early age.
- To empower the next generation to make the right demands on politicians and decision makers;
- To be there to support investments into cleaner technologies and production methods;
- And to help explain and push for the necessary changes to our personal lives and our personal choices, to make our societies, countries and planet a better and healthier place to live in.
With these words, I would like to thank the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture and the Ministry of Education for today’s event, and for your ambitions to further push the important discussion about environmental issues into the Georgian class rooms.