Community involvment report 2013

All the protagonists of this year`s stories are people who proved that IT CAN BE DONE! And people who transformed their daring plans into impactful projects.

We invite you to discover their stories, to team up with them and to become one of the collective author to the common good, through your recommendations and encouragement!

Diversity of environmental projects

Environmental projects are represented nowadays by a multitude of actions – aside from organizing tree plantings or greening activities, environmental projects mean supporting initiatives in other domains such as tourism, which can valorize nature. It also means the use of renewable energy (sun, wind) to help communities lacking essentials resources such as hot water. It means to support recycling, but also small businesses that use waste as feedstock, or to help organizations focused on protecting the biodiversity.

A free sea for dolphins

The populations of the three dolphin species living in the Black Sea have been declining for the past 50 years. While there were around two million specimens back in the `60s, their number had decreased to under 100,000 by the `90s. According to the National Institute for Marine Research and Development, right now there are only about 2000 specimens left along the Romanian coastline. In 90% of the cases, the loss is caused by unnatural causes, a high percentage of dolphins dying because of fishing nets abandoned or lost in the waters. In 2013, with Petrom`s support, SEOPMM Oceanic Club organization, together with the local fishermen, voluntary divers and some 32 people managed to gather about 42 tons of abandoned nets. At the same time, the company provided support for Mare Nostrum, an environmental organization which in 2013 had 48 interventions for stranded dolphins, 61 actions to collect terrestrial and maritime data and organized information and awareness raising sessions for 12,000 people.

Warm water, from the sun

Although it might sound hard to believe, in Romania, in the 21st century, there are still areas where hot water is scarce. Until recently, this was also the case of Mănești commune, in the county of Dâmbovița, where not even the town hall, the police precinct, the local clinic, the kindergarten or the school had hot water. The local town hall decided to submit a project in the “Ideas from Andrei`s country” competition, 2013 edition, by which they would receive funding from Petrom to install solar panels that would supply the named institutions with hot water. The “Solar panels – energy for the future” project won funding up to Euro 15,000, by which hot water will reach 873 from the six schools and kindergartens, about 5,000 patients from the local clinic as well as the staff of the local public institutions. Moreover, the project also has an environmental protection component, since solar energy is a “green” type of energy, using the sun as energy source and avoiding the use of fossil resources.

Planting for the future

Following the planting activities Petrom was involved in, either as initiator or as partner, over 20,500 seedlings were planted in 2013. Three of these activities consisted in replanting, in those areas where the trees did not survive from the previous years. Thus, about 300 volunteers participated in the replanting activities from Lesmir (Sălaj county), Moreni (Dâmbovița county) and Moinești (Bacău county), and about 17,000 seedlings were planted on around 3.5 hectares of land. Afforestation activities were also carried out in other Petrom communities, such as Sadova (Dolj county), Poiana Câmpina (Prahova county), Corbu (Constanța county), Berva (Buzău county), with the help of over 130 Petrom employees and more than 600 local volunteers.

Dosar mediu

Recycling – a business?

Without a shadow of a doubt the answer is “Yes, recycling is a business.” But not in the mercantile sense of the word; in its social one. “The economic model is not designed to make a profit, but to use the resources and increase the number of project beneficiaries.”, said the representative of the Workshops without Borders NGO in their presentation of “Solidary remesh” project, which received a 5,000 –Euro grant in Ideas from Andrei`s Country” competition, 2013 edition.

The project, with a significant environmental impact – over 500 kg of advertising banners and meshes collected every month and turned into leatherwear bearing the “remesh” label – also has a social component, because it aims at creating two jobs for people in difficulty. “Upside Down”, which was also one of the winners of “Ideas from Andrei`s Country” competition, 2013 edition, comes with a similar concept: Reversibil Association aims at reducing by 10% the amount of non-biodegradable waste dumped in the landfills of Iași, by collecting it and turning it into bags, wallets, gadget cases and other accessories; the revenue resulting from selling these products would be used to pay the employees and for educational programs.

Steven the Great, wine and bicycles

The Moldavian Delta: Dacian forests, rare species of birds, authentic places of worship, among which the last of Steven the Great's churches, three mansions, dwellings from the Paleolithic and wonderful people. This is where Pro Bike Addiction (PBA) Association will roll out the “Cyclo-tourism as a solution” project, which received a 5,000-Euro grant in “Ideas from Andrei`s Country” competition, 2013 edition. “We feel that when you are in the car, you are just witnessing nature`s beauties; on the bike, you become part of the show, part of the environment”, say the representatives of PBA. The project targets the 13 communes from the counties of Iași and Vaslui, which are part of “Ștefan cel Mare” Local Action Group and, apart from enhancing the tourism potential, it aims at protecting the environment, by promoting cyclotourism as a non-polluting transport alternative.

Another project focusing on cyclotourism, one that also received a 5,000-Euro grant in “Ideas from Andrei`s Country”, is “Pro-cyclotourism”, initiated by ROI Association and Cycling Romania. “Urlați – Dealu Mare region is a breath-taking and picturesque region, with a lot of potential, but one can see that it lacks young people`s involvement into its sustainable development. By increasingly promoting cyclo-tourism in the region and attracting local youngsters in this phenomenon, things could change for the better”, explained the project initiators.

Mihai Enescu

Mihai Enescu

University assistant at the Bucharest University of Agronomical Sciences and Veterinary Medicine

Every project is meant to solve a problem. Nowadays, environmental problems are a true threat, particularly to humanity. But it is not only us humans who suffer due to the land and water disturbances on Earth. The fauna and flora are also prone to unwanted effects. Personally, I think that the main strength of the environmental projects implemented with Petrom`s support is their impact on local communities.[...]

Whether they organize seedling planting campaigns, adopt sustainable solutions for wastewater heating, present alternatives of transport with no greenhouse gas emissions, protect endangered dolphin species or recycle significant quantities of apparently unrecyclable products – the projects supported by Petrom represent worthy models to be followed by other communities.

The impact on direct or indirect beneficiaries consists first and foremost in their increased awareness of environmental issues. People become more informed and prepared to manage and alleviate the undesired effects of the various environmental problems. In this context, the environmental projects supported by Petrom managed to mobilize thousands of people. They also triggered positive changes at several levels, particularly to collective MENTALITY.

Given the above, I believe that the environmental projects detailed below represent true models - sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions worthy of our full appreciation.

In the immediate future, I would like that all the initiatives in Andrei`s Country to mobilize as many members of the civil society, public authority representatives, academic elites as possible – and, above all, people willing to get involved in changing the local mentality and position on the environmental issues we face every day. Change is in our power!

Instead of conclusions...

I am no CSR expert and, as such, I cannot give an informed assessment regarding Petrom`s campaigns. However, as a volunteer in Andrei`s Country, as a simple citizen, and particularly as a teacher, I appreciate the educational value of the projects supported by Petrom. My wish is that future editions of financing programs in Andrei`s Country gather as many applicants as possible, and that these examples of good practices are adopted in other communities.

Last, but not least, I want to congratulate everyone involved in the Petrom projects!