Virtual study visits in the BEACON project

09. April 2021

The idea of ​​study visits

The BEACON (Bridging European and Local Climate Action) project has been running at UfU since spring 2018 and is a project to promote climate protection through the exchange between national governments, municipalities and schools in Europe. The aim is to contribute to a stronger European integration through a bilateral and multilateral dialogue in order to ultimately create the common goal for the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.

As a highlight of the BEACON project, two study visits were planned, during which representatives of the partner countries Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania were to be invited to Germany. A three-day program was planned with 15 educational policy multipliers each, such as speakers in teacher training, representatives from school authorities and school ministries. The study visit program should include schools and educational institutions that carry out energy-saving projects as well as energy-saving laboratories and other environmental educational institutions. The aim of the study visits was to network the actors with one another and to use the impulses of the program to discover common points of contact for work in the field of climate protection.

The first study visit with all three countries could take place as planned in autumn 2019. Invitations were made to Berlin and here the guests were able to visit various schools and hold expert talks in order to get to know energy-saving projects on site. Excursions to energy laboratories and discussions with climate protection managers and the Senate administration were also on the program and were able to provide important impulses.

The switch to digital contributions

The second study visit was to be carried out in the first half of 2020 and has been postponed repeatedly due to the pandemic. In the course of the planning it became clear that international trips could not take place during the project period and that an alternative format had to be developed. The crux of the matter is that these study visits thrive on the network character and direct exchange and cannot easily be converted into a digital format. The guiding principle of the UfU was now to provide the multipliers in the partner countries with some informative and descriptive contributions as best practice examples for local climate protection. The result were two 15-minute videos in which we worked with a professional film team:

In the film “Wind, Wagnis, (Mit)Wirkung”, the energy self-sufficient place Feldheim is presented, which we would have liked to have visited with the guests on a study visit. It is the first and so far only place in Germany that completely generates its own electricity and heat for its own use and is thus playing a pioneering role in the energy transition. Barbara Ral, Climate Protection Manager of Potsdam-Mittelmark, and Michael Knape, Mayor of Treuenbrietzen, report in the film how the interplay of favorable starting conditions, the courage of individuals to dare something new and the broad participation of citizens contributed to the success of such a pilot project what steps were necessary and what obstacles there were.

Karola Braun-Wanke and Judith Hübner from the environmental coordination office of the Berlin district of Steglitz-Zehlendorf were interviewed for the film “Vernetzt-Aktiv-Nachhaltig”. In the Botanical Garden in Berlin they report on how the coordination office came into being, what goals it is pursuing, what their work looks like in practice and what role networking plays in it. They also provide information about their educational mandate and the environmental model, which is being pursued by the city of Berlin. The establishment of the Berlin environmental coordination offices was preceded by an appraisal process on environmental education offers in the districts, in which the UfU was involved. As part of the film screenings, the UfU management explained the development process of the coordination offices.

Another UfU contribution was made for the Bulgarian partners at their request for the National Climate Protection Initiative of the Federal Environment Ministry (NKI). In collaboration with Lothar Eisenmann from ifeu (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg), the NKI was presented live as an example of funding opportunities for sustainable educational projects and other climate protection activities in German municipalities and schools.

The study visits were now mainly organized by the local partners and the UfU contributions were integrated into the program. The events in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria already took place as purely online workshops and the UfU contributions were received with many interested inquiries and a lively exchange of discussions. The Romanian study visit is planned for mid-April as a hybrid event: The educational policy multipliers meet on site in Romania, get to know various educational institutions in the area and the UfU is digitally connected for the contributions. Such a format is certainly a welcome change from the purely digital alternative and we keep our fingers crossed that the pandemic will not thwart the bill again!

BEACON will soon be three

18. Februar 2021

The BEACON project, in which the UfU is part of the core consortium, has now been running for almost three years. During this time, a lot has happened in the work package concerning schools. The main focus here is on creating framework conditions that allow all schools in the partner countries to carry out long-term energy-saving projects. In this context, workshops in various formats were held, Romanian, Czech and Bulgarian delegations took part in study visits to Germany, German schools exchanged ideas and experiences with schools from the partner countries, and teacher training courses on the subject of energy saving and bicycle cinema film screenings took place.

Videos of Bulgarian activities give an exemplary insight into the BEACON project:

Energy team presents project at the school

Bike cinemas

Vertical workshop