Young Environmental Leaders Programme
“I learned more here in a fortnight than during five years of university!”
— Brigitta Pulay, Law student and Junior Fellowship Programme participant
The Young Environmental Leaders Programme, now in the framework of the Tom Garvey Programme of the Sustainable Development Academy of the REC, was originally launched in 1994 as the Junior Fellowship Programme. The Senior Fellowship Programme was launched that same year.
The general aims of the programme were to build the capacities of young members of environmental NGOs, to provide the younger generation with training to develop skills for efficient work and leadership, and to contribute to the creation of an international network of green NGOs at the personal level.
Groups were composed of applicants from different countries and from different branches of environmental activity, such as nature conservation, waste management, water quality and urban environments. The two-week training course offered modules on management, campaigning, communications, fundraising, financial management, exchanges of hands-on experience, and also meetings with successful, experienced NGOs from the region. The courses were rigorous and demanding, but there was plenty of fun to be had for the young participants, who were lodged in a cottage on the REC grounds.
Many Junior Fellowship Programme participants — and, more recently, participants in the Young Environmental Leaders Programme — have gone on to assume key positions in government and with successful civic organisations. Still others have moved on to senior positions within the REC itself, a case in point being Mihallaq Qirjo, now director of REC Albania.
Junior Fellowship Programme
The REC’s Junior Fellowship Programme, which completed its first full year in 1994, proved to be one of the REC's most effective programmes for building partnerships among the environmental leaders of the future across the CEE region. In 1994 alone, 29 young people from 12 countries, each from a different NGO, participated in the programme.
Fellows came to the REC's head office for one month of practical training in how to manage their environmental NGOs. While at the REC, junior fellows attended lectures, gave seminars and visited successful environmental organisations in Central Europe. They also had the opportunity to use all the REC’s facilities, including its excellent library, to collect information or assist in the work of their own groups back home. In some cases, fellows chose to work with a REC team on a current project. By participating in the work of the team, junior fellows acquired hands-on experience in project management.
Five junior fellowship sessions were held in 1994. By providing these opportunities for direct, personal contact, the REC helped to build an understanding of similarities and differences regarding states of environment and environmental movements in each country. Besides becoming more effective in their organisations after their training as junior fellows, these young environmentalists also helped the REC by serving as contact points in their countries.
Senior Fellowship Progamme
The Senior Fellowship Programme, also created in 1994, brought experienced environmental experts to the REC for up to four weeks to explore an issue of their choice. In 1994, the REC hosted the head of environmental protection from a chemical plant in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the head of environmental planning for the city of Zagreb, the director of the Ecological Center of Ukraine, and the dean of Bucharest University of Agricultural Sciences.
Tom Garvey Young Environmental Leaders Programme
Between 1995 and 2003, Tom Garvey served on the REC’s Board of Directors. Following his death in 2007, the Tom Garvey Fund was established in his honour. The fund has made possible the renewal and extension of the REC’s long-running and successful Young Environmental Leaders Programme. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the REC in 2012, the programme was renamed the Tom Garvey Young Environmental Leaders Programme.
Contributor: Janos Zlinszky