On 5-6 July 2017, a Russian-German Baikal Green School took place at the Business Incubator of the Republic of Buryatia in Ulan-Ude. This is an unique project for support of social entrepreneurs interested in development of “green” technologies. As a result of a 2-day seminar, workshops, and expert discussions, an establishment of a community of “green“ entrepreneurs within the business incubator is planned, who have been working at sustainable development and elaboration of innovative approaches to the solutions for environmental problems of the region.
One of the key topics of the Green School was a not shaped market of medical plants and plant harvest in the Republic of Buryatia as well as an insufficient number of specialists in the field of cultivation of medical plants, entrepreneurs, and technologists.
The target audience of the Green School was representatives of businesses, public and environmental organisations, initiative groups, tourist companies as well as biotechnologists, ecologists, and young start-upers. They got a chance not only to present their own projects but also to have an expert assessment on their further development.
Anastasia Guliavina, one of the founders of Impact Hub Moscow carried out a business assessment of projects and contributed to business models of participants of the Green School. Chagat Almashev, Head of a company with focus on sustainable tourism from the Altai Mountains, reported on peculiarities of work with European travellers as well as development of the event tourism in his native region.
Guzel Sanzhapova, a pioneer of social entrepreneurship, held a workshop on marketing of “fair trade“ production. Her social start-up “Cocco Bello“ is a good example for a solidarity economy. In five years, Guzel succeeded in launching a competitive product – a cream honey with berries and forest herbs, organising an up-to-date production process, and giving a job to nine senior residents of a dying-out village in the Urals. Since she reached the profit point, she has been investing in development of infrastructure of the Village of Maly Turysh for three years so far.
An important part of the project was the Green Baikal Forum, which brought together represntatives of the Regional Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, heads of the districts, businessmen, and foreign experts to discuss perspectives for the development of Buryatia according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. All participants of the panel discussion agreed that the region was benevolently situated and had all opportunities for development of the modern production and sales of wild herbs, cultivation and marketing of ecoproducts and development of a modern tourist infrastructure. To implement this programme, it is important to share experiences and technologies as well as attraction of investments and resources.
‘Europe- and worldwide, social innovations have been developed – not the least – thanks to professional communities,’ said Armin Pialek, an expert of the BMW Foundation (Germany), who presented a pro bono concept at the final discussion. A system of “qualified volunteering“ lets public environmental organisations and young entrepreneurs get a legal, design, or marketing assistance free of charge to launch the project as soon as possible.
In his farewell word, Sergei Medvedev, one of the organisers of the Baikal Green School, Head of the Innovation Centre “Eastern Partnership“ in Berlin, pointed out that not only education and modern technologies but also dialogue and good neighbouring relations between the East and the West were needed for a stable development of the South of Siberia and improvement of EU-Russia relations. The Baikal Green School proved that a tight cooperation between representatives of authorities and businesses, civic activists, and international organisations was possible even in these turbulent times.
The organisers would like to express their gratitude to the Administration of the Republic of Buryatia and the business incubator for an active assistance as well as the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and the Federal Foreign Office of Germany for the project support and opening a window for a further cooperation between two states. Starting from 2018, a series of entrepreneurial activities have been planned in the region. Besides, an international volunteer camp on Lake Baikal will be held.