Belgium Leads by Example: HSE Green Club
Anna Ostapenko, a representative of the HSE Green club and 2nd year student in History, has recently returned from Belgium where she took part in the Model European Parliament for Western Europe (held in Lier) and an environmental seminar (in Berlaar) from January 25 to February 3. She was accompanied by a group of Russian students.
The visit was an opportunity to meet young people from West European countries (including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Great Britain) to discuss issues such as climate change, boom-and-bust economy, the migration crisis, youth unemployment, and terrorism. This experience is absolutely unique for our students: they are the first delegates from Russia to attend. The organizers believe that it is very important to transcend borders and reinforce communication between countries who share common issues.
2nd year student in History programme
I chose to work in the ITRE committee (Industry, Research and Energy), and the topic of our discussion was climate change. The 5-day conference was extremely intense, especially as it was my first immersion in a ‘real’ English language environment.
We were working and participating in master classes from 8am to around 10pm, so it’s not possible to talk about everything here, but I would like to mention the meeting with expert and member of the European Parliament, Bart Martens, who spoke about the way the European Parliament deals with environmental issues.
The second part of our programme gave me some practice in addressing environmental problems. Students from Russia alone (6 of them from HSE Green!) participated in the events in Berlaar and the big cultural centres of Belgium: Brussels, Antwerp and Gent. Our sponsors were the local authorities and the Mondo ecological association.
Belgium’s efforts are impressive: electric car sharing, solar batteries, dumps where more than 30 types of waste are sorted and an entry fee has to be paid (the more litter you have, the more you pay, and sorting is obligatory), food sharing, co-housing and other projects that aim to reduce the ecological footprint. However, there are also containers where rubbish is mixed, food-sharing doesn’t happen everywhere and not everyone uses electric cars, although having said that, a lot of people ride bicycles.
I think Belgium’s efforts are useful to all of us, especially as the organizer of our visit – a member of the State Duma’s Education Committee – is going to continue communication between Russia and leaders in this domain, in order to create joint projects for solving environmental problems.