The good legacy of a nightmare

SUCEAVA – Transport from the border, accommodation and hot meals, translation and counselling services, hauling and distribution of donations, even a solidarity shop: when it comes to the Ukrainian refugees, the Ștefan cel Mare University of Suceava (Romania) has been involved in the crisis from all sides, with all its authority, through all its human resources from the very beginning.  And its links with Ukrainian academia are growing deeper. This public institution – established in 1963 in Suceava, just 50 km away from the Ukrainian border – was among the first to rush into action, and it has quickly become a humanitarian hub for the neighbouring population on the run, even serving as a focal point for UN agencies and non-governmental organisations. Around 500 between students and professors have been offering their time and efforts to mitigate the impact of the conflict on the civilians, and to sustain their colleagues across the border. It was time for the tolerant and participatory atmosphere established in the campus throughout the years to pay off.

A place to offer kids a new beginning

SUCEAVA – Back to the future. As other projects overturned by the war, also SMART4YOUTH has resumed normal activities, and on 21-23 September a “film festival” will feature the videos produced by Romanian and Ukrainian youngsters after attending project’s workshops. At the same time, partners don’t let go of the refugees, and keep running the “mothers support group”, whilst their kids are busy with languages and arts at the “clever children” centre: altogether, about 300 people are still benefitting from this support in the region. It is definitely a busy time for the cooperation between Romania and Ukraine, whose reality is heartedly described by Vasile Gafiuc, manager of  SMART4YOUTH and president of the Association of Community Development Consultants (ACDC).

Back to project activities while caring for refugees

Refugees on one side, ordinary activities on the other: the new normality of cross border cooperation – in countries closely linked to the conflict area – has shifted to double gear. As the crisis continues, the emergency is now “embedded” into daily routine, while efforts to keep going with previously planned activities, start yielding fruits.

Smart grid technology driving renewable energies

“At the beginning, it was a research project but now it has become a large-scale project with  interconnection between universities, researchers and economic actors. In the ENI CBC programmes one  is never alone: this is the main added value of this programme.”

Dario Di Cara, Research Scientist in the Institute of Marine Engineering CNR-INM Palermo (Italy)

Financing young people out of the shadow-economy

“Start-ups and new businesses begin with so much hope, excitement and promise, but the search for c capital is often challenging and stressful, whether you’re starting a business from scratches, or you are trying to find resources to push your start-up forward.”

Hijazi Natsheh, Leaders Organization (Palestine)

Hand-baking to enjoy the traditional craft

“Our task is to create reasons to visit the Carpathian region. We do not just want to preserve elements of national culture, we want to package them nicely and present them as a tourist product, which can be sold by tourist operators.”

Lada Malanii, lead beneficiary marketing manager (Ukraine)

The local boost to farming products

“This crisis has proved to us the importance of having short supply chains, especially in the food sector. Whatever happens in the world, people will always need food, even more when international supply chains are interrupted. Countries should be prepared to provide their citizens with local food products.”

Silja Lehtpuu, project manager at the Union of Setomaa (Estonia)

Young entrepreneurs, time to cross borders

“A CBC programme is the ideal framework for this project as it aims to offer youngsters and start-ups the opportunity to develop a cross-border business, and to open for themselves new opportunities beyond their country borders.”

Arttu-Pekka Johannes Tavia, Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Finland)

Management skills are essential even for a family restaurant

“Tourism is not just about history, gloss and glamour: it is a service that companies provide. Many small enterprises  manage their business not based on knowledge, but at the call of their hearts, which does not always have a positive impact on the quality of services provided by tourism companies.”

George Stampoulis, Head of the consortium of project implementers (Greece)

Weaving eco-threads across the Mediterranean

“Entrepreneurs will be able to put into practice the concept of circular economy in a textile and clothing sector in need of new sustainable business models. STAND Up! knots together the shores of the Mediterranean, connecting knowledge, innovation, traditions and habits.”

Anna Ibañez de Arolas, Project Manager – STAND Up! Coordinator (Spain)

What about an asparagus hand cream?

Roses, oregano, asparagus and capers…these are indigenous species in the Sicilian and Tunisian territories, they grow naturally in marginal lands, they do not require chemical inputs and do not demand much water. In addition, they have lots of nutritional and medicinal properties. Why then not grow them more profitably and sustainably? What if we transformed them and created other products? Creams, essential oils, perfumes… This is exactly what the ESPAS project is pursuing. Funded by the Italy-Tunisia ENI CBC programme, this partnership wants to revalorise autochthonous species in Sicily and Tunisia, to diversify their uses and to provide farmers and enterprises with more business opportunities. But how? Keep reading!

From fossil to wood-based plastic

From fossil to bio-based plastic to reduce carbon dioxide emission, ensure sustainable sources and increase recycling. This change is crucial for ending plastic waste and heading towards circular economy. It is a joint effort – regardless of borders and ideologies – where every single action counts. The BioStyrene project, funded by the Estonia-Russia CBC programme, has its own innovative recipe for contributing to the global fight against fossil-based plastics…  

Keep deadwood in forests: it’s friend of biodiversity and resilience

Deadwood may seem damp, sterile, an unhygienic source of infection, something to be removed. However, the reality could not be more different. Decaying wood logs, dead and old trees host multiple microorganisms, they help the forest to better resist diseases, they increase its resilience to climate change. They also capture carbon emissions and conserve biodiversity. For these reasons, keeping the deadwood in the forest can bring multiple benefits. The RESFOR project, an initiative co-funded by the Romania-Ukraine ENI CBC programme, is raising knowledge and promoting good practices in “deadwood management”. A novel concept, very little explored in the forestry sector of the cross-border region, but yet very important for the resilience of the forests, some of which represent one of the last old-growth forest reserves in Europe, and have been included as such in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.