The path from participation in the international basin competition “Colors of the Dniester” to environmental activism.

My name is Sofia Oliynychuk. I have been a public activist for over three years and represent the youth movement of the small town of Ovidiopol in Odesa Oblast. My conscious environmental journey began with the International Competition “Colors of the Dniester”.

Winning the Colors of the Dniester contest in 2019 with my poem “Like Leaves on the Slope of the Dniester” significantly changed my views on the role each of us have in preserving the nature of our native land. Constant competitions and events aimed at supporting environmental education and conservation have become a regular thing for me. Membership in the Children’s Environmental Parliament, conferences, and participation in district, regional, and national environmental campaigns. In July 2023, an unforgettable event took place in my life – online participation in the Site Event on Transboundary Water Cooperation at the High Level Political Forum in New York. There I had the opportunity to talk about the role of youth in environmental life, representing the youth of the Dniester basin.

Studying the problems of the Dniester River and further participation in environmental clubs helped me to better understand the importance of natural ecosystems and the impact of human activity on their condition. Having found like-minded people in this field and encouraged my friends to join this activity, I founded the Youth Water Parliament with my friends. My friends and like-minded people entrusted me to lead this Initiative. The creation of the Youth Water Parliament was the real beginning of my friends and I becoming a conscious environmentalist in the youth community.

In the summer of 2023, the Youth Water Parliament was relaunched in a large- scale way by merging the members of the newly created Ovidiopol Youth Council and the Youth Parliament. This step expanded youth participation in sustainable water management and strengthened the link between youth and government. One of the key aspects of the Youth Water Parliament’s work today is the implementation of a program on environmental education and public involvement in solving the problems of pollution of suburban water bodies. The parliament actively encourages young people to participate in the Colors of the Dniester competition and take the initiative to preserve the environment. The Youth Water Parliament in Ovidiopol has become a unique platform where young people have the opportunity to actively participate in shaping strategies for the conservation and development of water resources. Participants discuss the problems of water pollution and the impact of global changes on the ecosystem. Participation in the parliament also helps young people develop leadership skills.

The emergence of the youth movement was not only an active action to preserve the Dniester River and the environment, but also changed my worldview. Having gone through this environmental journey, I and the members of parliament became more sensitive to the needs of nature and its role it plays in our daily lives.

I understood not only the technical aspects of environmental protection, but also significantly changed my view of consumption, responsibility for my own actions, and the potential of the community to make positive changes in its attitude towards the environment. Participation in the Water Parliament has also broadened my understanding of global issues and the importance of local initiatives in solving them.

The Colors of the Dniester contest has become not just a poetic and photographic hobby for me but also an important stage in shaping my attitude towards the environment.

Thanks to my participation in the “Colors of the Dniester” contest, I gained the incentive and faith in my abilities to engage in environmental activities even in difficult times!

Author: Sofia Oliynychuk, Ovidiopol, Odesa region, January 2024.