Drones, Nature, Urban Planning and Youth Innovation in Burgas

A person is on a field letting go of a drone

"Climate is what we expect, and weather is what we get. The elements of climate are the same, but they act differently all over the world. Therefore, each territory has a unique climate profile."

Those were the words setting the stage for the first Re-Value Innovation Camp in Burgas happening in September 2023. Over fifty students from various Burgas high schools, including Goethe German High School, Geo Milev English Language High School, Mechano-Electrical and Electronics Professional High School, Kolyo Ficheto High School of Commerce, and Commercial High School of Sredets, gathered for the camp. They were furthermore joined by students from the University of Applied Sciences and international students from St. Kliment Ohridski.

Associate Professor Steliyan Dimitrov, the Director of Sofia University Center for Geospatial Systems and Technologies, took the stage, delivering insightful lectures on digital twins and their role in adapting urban environments to climate change. He emphasised topics such as digital transformation, climate-adapted smart regions, and environmental sustainability.

The Burgas Library provided the venue for the assembled youth to explore complex scientific concepts. Discussions ranged from the origin of life on Earth to future climate scenarios, particularly considering the impact of human activity. 

In the afternoon participants left the library and headed to Atanasovsko Lake - a salt coastal lake just outside of Burgas. A planned survey with drones had to be postponed due to winds that prevented drone flights but the young learners seized the opportunity to collect data for three-dimensional mapping using specialised equipment to explore the lakeside terrain. They also learned about the area, which is Bulgaria's most bird-rich place, a sanctuary with vast healing mud deposits and the country's largest sea salt production.

Armed with all this knowledge and experiences, the young participants faced their first challenge from the mentors at Junior Achievement Bulgaria. Divided into eight teams, each comprising five to six individuals, they were tasked with developing innovative business projects that harmoniously integrated with the sustainability of the Atanasovsko Lake area.

The following day, the teams gathered in a hall overlooking the picturesque fishing village of Chengene Skele. This charming location was itself a testament to the implementation of nature-based and green solutions to adapt urban environments to climate change. Equipped with laptops and business model templates, they had a few hours to shape their ideas into compelling presentations.

Then, the participants presented their innovative projects for the Atanasovsko Lake. These ideas ranged from small camps designed to align with the area's biodiversity, guided walking and cycling tours, and the creation and promotion of sea salt products, to theatre stages, wooden pathways for strolling and bird watching, and even a golf course in harmony with nature.

Then, during a brief "intermission" between presentations, the wind subsided, creating favourable conditions for drone-flying demonstrations. A team from the National University Center for Geospatial Systems and Technologies conducted field demonstrations and provided training on gathering geodata from drones, as well as the subsequent steps to process, analyse, and visualise the data for sustainable planning, considering climatic features and changes.

As the two-day Innovation Camp concluded, it marked not the end but the beginning of an ongoing journey. The Municipality of Burgas, in collaboration with young minds and active community members, remains committed to developing urban transition plans that strive for climate neutrality. This venture is part of the larger Re-Value project, funded by the Horizon Europe program, which aims to support European regions in their efforts to adapt to and minimize the impacts of climate change through cross-border demonstration activities.

This article was adapted from the original produced By Burgas Municipality. 

A group of people discussing around a table
A group of people are being showed what appears to be a for of fishing nets.
A group of people standing in front a class with what appears to be prizes.
A group of students are outside and a person is measuring something in the ground
A group of people are standing outside with a few drones lying on the ground
A big field with one person and a drone flying above

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