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Bucharest Community Foundation develops programs supported with 2 mln. euro by ING Bank Romania

31 January 2024

The Bucharest Community Foundation and ING Bank Romania continue to develop the Environmental Platform for Bucharest, a strategic program initiated to make the Capital a better city for its inhabitants. Thus, ING Bank Romania is making a new round of investments worth two million euro that will contribute to the protection of urban natural areas in Bucharest through the Vacaresti Natural Park Association project and will support “In your area”, a program dedicated to micro-communities in Bucharest that translates environmental problems into solutions for the community.

With the common goal of making Bucharest a better city to live in, the Bucharest Community Foundation and ING Bank Romania are addressing important issues for Bucharest residents through the Environmental Platform for Bucharest and continue to invest strategically to address the complex environmental problems affecting Bucharest. Of the new round of investments, 1.25 million euro goes towards the protection, knowledge, and conservation of five new urban nature areas in Bucharest, modeled on the Vacaresti Nature Park, and 750,000 euro goes towards the “In your area” project, which supports environmental initiatives coming from small communities in the city.

The Dambovita “meadow” at the entrance to Lake Morii, Petricani Meadow, Dobroiesti, and Valea Saulei lakes (part of the “salube” of lakes on the Colentina River), as well as the Baneasa Forest, will be the urban areas in Bucharest that will benefit from conservation through this funding. With a total area of around 1,400 hectares, they are home to a rich natural heritage, including various bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species, which deserve recognition and protection.

At the same time, through a call for civic involvement, the Bucharest Community Foundation invites people from 43 well-defined communities to turn their complaints into ideas, ideas into projects, and projects into actions, as part of the “In your area” program. By February 1st, together with CeRe: Resource Centre for Public Participation, the Foundation is conducting a survey to identify the environmental problems of the inhabitants of these communities, but also to get in touch with people willing to get involved in solving them through community activities, and then offering them the opportunity to register their ideas in a project incubator. Then, together with experts, local people’s ideas can be turned into viable environmental projects and, at the end of the incubator, selected projects can receive funding and other resources for implementation.

“The ambitious mission to make Bucharest a better city for its inhabitants starts with the air we breathe and the environment we live in, with an impact on people’s well-being and quality of life. The capital has become an increasingly congested city through accelerated development in multiple areas, which sometimes makes us lose sight of the costs that come with this pace. That’s why we’re glad to have partners who understand the need of the citizens of Bucharest to live healthy, sustainable, and modern lives in their city. At the same time, we call on people to identify and get involved in solving the problems of their community, because only together can we enjoy our city as we deserve”, says Alina Kasprovschi, Executive Director of the Bucharest Community Foundation.

The Environmental Platform for Bucharest is a strategic program developed by the Bucharest Community Foundation for ING Bank Romania, now in its second year of existence. Launched in 2022, the program aims to turn the environmental problems people face into viable projects for Bucharest and its citizens. The Environmental Platform for Bucharest was created to bring together specialists from civil society, academia and business, companies and citizens, activists, politicians, and the administration to act in a coordinated way to solve the complex environmental problems affecting Bucharest.

“Through the Environmental Platform, we promised the community, together with the Bucharest Community Foundation, that we would set up a neutral space for collaboration, allowing civic initiatives to be tested and then expanded. The two initiatives reinforce the strategic intervention for a good city to live in. They come both as a confirmation of the results of the first two years of funding, but also as evidence of the evolution that the community around the Platform is experiencing. The Vacaresti Natural Park Association has the expertise and experience to scale the level of protection achieved for the Vacaresti Delta in other areas with huge potential for urban biodiversity, while through the In Your Area initiative, we are confident that we will bring citizens closer to very concrete solutions for environmental protection in Bucharest. At the same time, we are glad that the In Your Area program will also contribute to solutions for adaptations in the city, in the vicinity of ING offices”, adds Alexandra Maier, Sustainability Manager at ING Bank Romania.

Until this round of investments, the Environmental Platform for Bucharest has supported 13 projects aimed at making Bucharest a better city to live in, with total funding of 3.6 million lei, 520,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries, and a community of over 100 stakeholders. In 2023, the program launched 3 funding calls in waste management, urban biodiversity, and energy efficiency and doubled its funding budget through new partnerships, with PENNY Romania and ENGIE Romania.

The community formed around the Environmental Platform for Bucharest has become a voice for environmental organizations and groups in the capital. It has facilitated debates between local and legislative authorities and civil society on legislative changes in green spaces and urban planning or advocacy campaigns such as the Green Belt.

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