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    Air quality, waste management, and green space issues, the main complaints in Bucharest’s small communities

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    More than half of Bucharest residents participating in a survey conducted by the Bucharest Community Foundation are dissatisfied with the state of the environment in their area, while 35 percent are indifferent and only 11 percent are satisfied. However, only 23 percent of respondents want to participate in solving the environmental problems they identify, according to the survey conducted by CeRe: Resource Centre for Public Participation, at the initiative of the Bucharest Community Foundation, as part of the “In YOUR AREA” program.

    In order to support the resolution of environmental problems in the Capital, the Bucharest Community Foundation, through the Environmental Platform for Bucharest and with the support of ING Bank Romania, is launching a call to the inhabitants of 42 well-defined micro-communities in Bucharest to get involved and turn their complaints into implementable projects submitted in the “In YOUR AREA” program. Through this program initiated for ING Bank Romania, the Environmental Platform for Bucharest is investing 750,000 euro in civic environmental projects over the next 2 years, both in the form of grants and initiatives to support their implementation, such as project incubators, mentoring, and access to specialists.

    Bucharest residents surveyed are mostly dissatisfied with air quality (77 percent), waste management (70 percent), green space issues (62 percent), the effects of climate change (52 percent), and urban mobility (50 percent), according to research initiated by the Bucharest Community Foundation to identify the main environmental problems in targeted areas of the capital and increase civic engagement.

    When it comes to the main problem, air quality, most respondents complain about heavy traffic (82 percent), pollution (81 percent), and heavy traffic generated by trucks (39 percent). In terms of waste management, lack of education about recycling (73 percent), poor waste collection (68 percent), lack of separate collection (64 percent), and irresponsible consumption (52 percent), such as excessive packaging or owning more than one car per household, are the issues that dissatisfy citizens the most.

    The issue of green spaces around their homes is also important for surveyed Bucharest residents. They are dissatisfied with the lack of education about protecting green areas (74 percent), the lack of green spaces in the area where they live (59 percent), green areas that aren’t taken care of or are destroyed (55 percent), as well as construction that takes away green space (54 percent), excessive mowing (45 percent) and tree felling (43 percent), and green spaces that are closed or without public access (35 percent).

    The survey also identified problems such as a lack of solutions to protect cities from the effects of climate change (64 percent), a lack of initiatives to reduce the consumption of natural resources and mitigate the city’s impact on the environment (62.7 percent) or a lack of support for disadvantaged communities affected by climate change (46.6 percent). All these add to urban mobility issues, where Bucharest residents noted the lack of lanes (69 percent) and parking spaces (68 percent) for bicycles, lack of education for using alternative transport instead of the personal car (66.8 percent), and insufficient public transport (38.9 percent).

    In addition, the citizens interviewed also mentioned other issues they identified, such as the lack of community leisure centers, playgrounds or sports alternatives, as well as the lack of access to sports fields, the lack of public bathrooms and public hydration sources, the lack of vegetation outside green areas and of community vegetable gardens.

    Although all respondents in Bucharest’s micro-communities notice environmental problems in their area, almost 77 percent say they are not willing to participate in solving them. The remaining 23 percent who want to be involved believe they could contribute through activities such as launching petitions, planting trees, recycling, using public transport, building bike lanes and/or parking, maintaining the gardens around their apartment buildings, working with the community to contact dedicated associations, recycling individually and communicating to friends and relatives about the importance of recycling, attending community meetings where environmental issues are discussed and even getting involved in organizing events.

    Residents of Bucharest in the areas targeted by the program can submit their project ideas until 31 March, benefiting from a grant fund totaling 520,000 euro over the next two years for their projects, plus mentoring and support from dedicated specialists with the capacity to support their implementation.

    Shared repair centers for household items or bicycles, libraries of tools that can be used by people in the community, events to exchange clothes or items, composting stations, or urban community gardens are just several examples of projects that can receive funding for implementation in the small communities targeted by the “In YOUR AREA” program.

    Projects can be submitted by non-governmental, politically unaffiliated organizations, initiative groups of at least 3 people who jointly undertake the planning and implementation of a project, or state educational institutions that will carry out the proposed activities in one of the selected areas.

    They can submit projects until 31 March by filling in the form available on the Environment Platform for Bucharest’s website. After the announcement period of the selected ideas (1-10 April), the Environmental Platform organizes a project incubator (15 April-31 May), with the final selection of projects taking place between 1 and 10 June. Implementation will take place between June 2024 and March 2025.

    The Environmental Platform for Bucharest is a strategic program developed by the Bucharest Community Foundation for ING Bank Romania, launched in 2022. The program aims to turn the environmental problems people face into viable projects for Bucharest and its citizens. The Environmental Platform for Bucharest was created to bring together specialists from civil society, academia and business, companies and citizens, activists, politicians, and the administration to act in a coordinated way to solve the complex environmental problems affecting Bucharest.

    “Since the launch of the Environmental Platform for Bucharest, we have frequently been asked «As a citizen, how can I get involved?». With the newly launched program, «In YOUR AREA», civic initiative groups and NGOs from micro-communities located in the area of some ING offices in Bucharest can receive funding to get directly involved in solving environmental problems where they live. It is a natural complement to the other forms of support offered through the Environmental Platform and a very concrete way for any of us, citizens of Bucharest who often feel powerless in the face of major environmental problems we face”, adds Alexandra Maier, Sustainability Manager, ING Bank Romania.

    The survey was conducted at the initiative of the Bucharest Community Foundation by CeRe: Resource Centre for Public Participation, between December 2023 and February 2024, as part of the “In YOUR AREA” program. Data was collected among 731 respondents from 42 micro-communities in Bucharest, in face-to-face discussions, with the support of CeRe operators, or individually online, to encourage civic involvement and outline needs and potential projects to solve, with the support of specialists.

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