Slovenian team granted Order of Merit by the President of Slovenia (Sep 30)

President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk gave the associaton Ecologists Without Borders the Order of Merit for their work in organising the country-wide cleanup in Slovenia.

Here is a video interview from the event with president Danilo Türk and Petra Matos from Slovenian team. In case you don't understand Slovenian, below is a translation made by Nara.

President: With this order I wanted to give recognition to the civil society. Civil society in our country is waking up, it has important initiatives, and the initiative "Let's clean Slovenia in one day!" is one of the most important ones. With this order I wanted to support the development and to help it be as crucial in future as it has been now. The purpose is that as many people as possible would join such actions, that the quality of life in Slovenia would improve, and that also on the international level we would reach the goals that this group of extremely successful, inteligent and predominantly young people already have.

Reporter: Could you say something about the success of the action also from the viewpoint, that this is also a disgrace for the government institutions, since just three enthusiastic ecologists did what the government and the inspection services, legislation agencies, and all the competent authorities, who were supposed to take care that there wouldn't be waste around Slovenia.

President: Of course. Civil society is a form of critique. Mobilisation of the civil society is always critical to bad practices. If you go and have a talk with the government representatives they will tell you that their structures are too weak to ensure all this. So, the critique also helps. What is important is that in all municipalities, also in those that didn't do so good in this year's action, they try to do better in the next year, in each municipality separately. If we achieved this then also the government institutions' job would be easier.

Reporter: Will you also be the honorary patron for the action: "World Cleanup 2012"?

President: If they ask me, I will join the action. I already spoke about it with some functionaries of the UN, so they know about this activity. In many places around the world it is much worse, you know, this is not a small and easy issue. But it is important that the level of ambition of our young people is so high. Our young people feel they are the citizens of the world, they are very well connected to the world, and I think this is excelent.

Thank you!


Petra: I think so many movements have started springing up. People have realized: "Wow, we have some power, we can do something!" I think this is one of the contributions of our action -- to show that people with some will can do a lot of good things.

Reporter: you said on the discussion earlier that more attention should probably be given to prevention.

Petra: Definitely. We're appealing to the Ministry of Environment. There are many, many good practices abroad that can be used. We don't need to invent hot water. These practices are tested. It's about time we take things up with prevention not with curative measures. Our action was not meant only for sanation, but also for rising the awareness. I think we did a huge job here. I am always proud when someone tells me: "From that day on I separate the waste." For me this is the biggest reward.

Reporter: Maybe it would be good to unite your register of illegal dumpsites with the registers of others: fishermen, foresters, hunters.

Petra: Definitely. We already turned to them, per example we already united it with the cavers, also with many municipalities. The fishermen are also making it including various poluters -- they are checking the pipes etc. not only the dumpsites. But we also wish to collect those information and have it all together. The register serves all of us so we can know where are potential dangers for our drinking water.

Reporter: Maybe it would be welcome to get some support like with the Estonian government?

Petra: Yes. We can't be volunteers forever. In eight months of work we were quite exhauted. There are many new projects, and if they are good I am sure they will get positive support also financially.
Petra: Right from the beginning we thought that we need a legal entity. A bit earlier we had the association established. It had no history, which was good, because we didn't want to have an association with history and to raise maybe some opposition: "Ah, we don't want to cooperate with them." We wanted to be as an empty sheet of paper. We're simply continuing with our activities.

Reporter: What are the plans for the future?

Petra: I must say we are large. There are many, many active volunteers. Still, we need to be professional now to, so we need workers and also to be financialy sufficient. But we're having many good projects, from legislation changes, to projects for prevention of waste production, we're planning the conference Balkan Cleanup, we'll also be a part of the World Cleanup action, so we have crazy amount of projects and we're again inviting everybody to join us and that we do something together