Tornike Bubashvili SAYP Alumni

Tornike Bubashvili is a SAYP alumni and works as a policy officer and project manager for SABUKO society for nature conservation in Georgia, which is partnering with BirdLife International. His main focus is planning advocacy campaigns, empowering local communities to engage in decision making processes, saving species and working on sustainable deployment of renewable energy.

Where there any outputs that were new to you within the SAYP sessions?

There were many interesting sessions that were completely new to me. The concept of new public management, for example, because prior to say, I wasn’t familiar with this concept and its potential effects and impacts on public sector. In Georgia I have been exposed to this concept within public services but this course allowed me to understand a new philosophy even more in depth. For instance, understand how can private sector management practices can be replicated into the public sector. In addition to this, it was extremely cool to learn about how Swedes love the Swedish tax agency (laughs).

What were you main takeaways from the SAYP program?

During my participation in the program, one of the most significant takeaways for me was the opportunity to establish meaningful connections with interesting individuals from both Eastern Partnership and the Baltic countries. The experience opened a window to valuable insights into the challenges that other countries are facing, as well as their success stories. I got inspired by the way other participants in the project addressed their problems and objectives, which can be also useful in my future work. I also understood the value of networking and cross cultural exchange when approaching such complex environmental and community issues.

What do you think helped you grow within the SAYP program?

I think that this opportunity to implement practical tasks such as project writing and this proposal writing was really beneficial and it contributed to my growth. It also was good that it was collaborative and we could work together with other SAYP country participant and together come up with Transboundary Project which was benefiting both countries and contributing to future collaboration of these countries even more. I think that it has boosted my confidence to write such projects at my workplace as well, and lead or manage even larger activities there.

How do you plan on taking your experiences forward and utilising what you learned through SAYP?

Even though the focus of the SAYP program was not about the environment and nature conservation, we frequently encounter issues related to human rights in this field, particularly those related to public participation and access to information. In many cases, the suc

cess of conservation efforts is dependent on the involvement of local communities and their support. However, I observed that many rural communities often face barriers to access relevant information and fully be engaged in decision making processes related to sustainable or infrastructure development. So I think that this new education I received here will allow me to contribute towards this even strongly.

“All the lecturers here were really supportive of us during the project writing because they knew that we might not be experts in that. They were always guiding us in such practical tasks as well as during the implementation period of the SAYP project. They supported us in developing the project and then assisted us in implementing it without any disruptions or stress. Since i am working full time, the SAYP project was on a voluntary educational level, and the support we received made me happy to be part of it.”

Also, I feel that generally these kind of activities allow Eastern Partnership countries to explore volunteering, because it is not that widespread in our societies. People have different motivators for volunteering but for me its more for the common good. So, by bringing visibility to voluntary participation in educational programs and projects I hope to inspire young professionals to join in and explore such opportunities like the SAYP project.

Would you encourage someone to apply to the SAYP project?

I have already talked about this project with many of my friends who are working in my field and they are also having the same issues as I do in my work, mostly concerning participation and decision making processes. Many of my coworkers are applying for the SAYP project too, as I recommend it, especially when having in mind to explore Scandinavia’s culture around environmental issues. Even though you cannot totally replicate the societal and legislative structures, due to variances in culture, economy and politics, there is a lot of inspiration that one can take from here. Establishing that in our respective countries might or might not work. But I think it’s still worth trying.

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