The Peer-to-Peer Exchange Program is part of our mutual effort to help protect the Kuban River environment through the sharing of professional experience between the Environmental Watch in the northern Caucasus and U.S.-based environmental organizations. The program provides group-based, intensive, and structured enrichment experiences for groups of U.S. and Russian specialists. The program is tailored to the specific interests of the participants and results in a number of specific takeaways that can be implemented in Krasnodar Krai.
In 2012, Crude Accountability hosted our Russian colleagues on an exchange trip to the United States, where they had the opportunity to trade ideas and information with Duke University scientists and naturalists in North Carolina and Virginia. The trip focused on conservation and lawmaking, with North Carolina – which at the time was developing legislation for the dangerous practices of hydraulic fracturing – serving as an example and test case. The exchange led to the creation of the Kuban’s first regional working group of activists, authorities at various levels and independent scientists.
In 2013, Crude Accountability took U.S. environmentalists to the Kuban, where they toured the wetlands with our colleagues from EWNC and Saving Taman!
In October 2015, a group of four Russian specialists from the EWNC visited Washington, DC and North Carolina for a two week tour of urban wetlands; these included wetlands in the DC area and coastal wetlands up and down the North Carolina coast. The trip included visiting various coastal restoration projects, meetings with local environmental organizations and local farmers and fishermen, and visiting the Duke University Drone Lab.
Some of the key ideas for our Russian colleagues included learning about simple techniques and small steps that can improve the overall ecology of a community, such as rain barrels and environmentally sensitive plantings. We explored the opportunity of building alliances with local fishermen and hunters as a strategy for successful environmental activism.
Plans are underway to continue this exchange program.