Empowering Youth for Sustainable Solutions: Ecological Hackathon in Kyrgyzstan


Empowering Youth for Sustainable Solutions: Ecological Hackathon in Kyrgyzstan

December 12, 2023


"Promoting Energy and Resource Efficiency in the Tourism Industry of Kyrgyzstan" (PERETO) project is being implemented by the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in consortium with partner organizations: UNISON Group (Kyrgyzstan), Technopolis Group (Belgium), Collaborating Center on Sustainable Consumption and Production - СSCP (Germany).

People worldwide are grappling with the consequences of the climate crisis, particularly evident in Central Asia. With a strong dependence on fossil fuels, the region faces challenges like reduced water resources and drought, impacting biodiversity, air quality, and food security. Recognizing the crucial role of education, the PERETO project is invested in integrating sustainable production, consumption, and energy/resource efficiency principles into tourism education.

From 4th-7th December, collaborating with six Kyrgyz universities, and supported by the European Union's SWITCH-Asia programme, PERETO partnered with IDEA Central Asia to launch the extensive Ecology 3.0 ecological campaign. The initiative included workshops across universities, empowering students to address climate change through sustainable tourism practices.

The pinnacle of the campaign was the four-day Ecotone, where over 50 students from partner universities and IT communities nationwide collaborated to devise digital solutions for climate change mitigation, sustainable tourism, and energy efficiency.

Stefano Corrado, Project Manager at the EU Delegation to Kyrgyzstan, welcomed participants, emphasizing the potential of young minds in creating innovative solutions. The Ecotone was the stage for learning, expert insights, digital solution presentations, and mentorship.

“The journey from idea to digital solution development took just 4 days, showcasing the nature of the team effort that took place. Participants rapidly acquired new skills. This initiative heightened youth awareness of environmental issues, developed IT skills, and promoted digital innovation while fostering community interaction between universities, the business sector, and IT”, - Maksat Damir uulu, Program Manager, PERETO project.

The jury, consisting of representatives from tourism, IT, and HoReCa sectors, praised the exceptional ideas. Each team received mentorship and guidance, highlighting the collaborative spirit of the event.

Standout digital solutions included:

  • Mobile game for waste sorting education
  • Website for clothing customization using surplus materials, involving unemployed seamstresses and allowing fashion enthusiasts to express individuality
  • Mobile app for real-time smoke alerts in HoReCa spaces (installation cost approximately 10 EUR)
  • Fandom vending machines in Bishkek (currently not available in Kyrgyzstan)
  • Chatbot offering services for creating artificial glaciers in remote mountainous areas of Kyrgyzstan.

“Despite the competition, the 4-day hackathon created a supportive atmosphere where we learned and grew continuously. We navigated intensive programs, absorbing new insights hourly – from expert presentations to refining our ideas, receiving mentor feedback, trying new approaches, engaging in team discussions, and refining our pitches. This experience is just a glimpse of the valuable knowledge and skills we acquired” - shared Artur Zubov, captain of the winning team and Academy of Tourism student.

The Ecothon not only showcased innovative digital solutions but also created a platform for cross-sectoral collaboration and community-building in Kyrgyzstan.

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