Tbilisi Zoo turned into an educational playground today showcasing the benefits of climate-proof urban development that protects people and infrastructure from catastrophic disasters. Interactive and engaging activities brought together over 50 school children and representatives of Georgia’s government, city authorities, educational institutions, civil society and international organizations.
The educational day in the Zoo was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of a project on reducing the risk of disasters, working in partnership with the Tbilisi Zoo, the Environmental Information and Education Centre at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and the Emergency Management Service at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The event marked the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2019 celebrated worldwide on 13 October. It sent a reminder of the devastating flood that hit Georgia’s capital city in June 2015, killing 23 people, destroying the Zoo and leaving 300 animals dead, and causing US$24.3 million in direct physical damage.
Spurred to action by the consequences of this disaster, the Government of Georgia began a quest for solutions to protect people and property from the impact of climate change. In 2019, with support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Government of Switzerland, UNDP began implementing a US$70 million programme that covers all 11 of the country’s major river basins and aims to provide direct protection to 1.7 million people, almost half of Georgia’s population.
“Georgia is replacing the reactive approach to climate-induced disasters to one fully grounded in adaptation and prevention,” UNDP Head Louisa Vinton said. “Climate education is an essential element of this proactive vision. It equips people with knowledge and tools necessary to understand and address the impact of global warming.”
The Disaster Risk Reduction Day in the Tbilisi Zoo included quizzes and educational games designed to help young Georgians explore climate change and understand how this global challenge affects their country and the planet. Winners of the interactive contests received their awards from UNDP Head Louisa Vinton, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Nino Tandilashvili, Tbilisi Zoo Director Zurab Gurielidze and Deputy Head of the Environmental Information and Education Centre Mariam Matiashvili.
At the end of the day, all participants visited Beglar the hippopotamus, a symbol of survival from the Tbilisi flood, who enjoys his new home in the reconstructed Zoo.