25 January 2024

Community of Practice in Bulgaria: In the search for seeds of change

27 participants from diverse sectors, including business (denkstatt, Coca-Cola HBC), academia (Sofia University, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research), government (Sofia Municipality, Executive Environment Agency, Executive Forests Agency, Central Balkan National Park, Bulgarian National Focal Point of IPBES), and civil society, gathered on January 19, 2024, in Sofia, Bulgaria, to lay the foundation for the SELINA Community of Practice (CoP) in Bulgaria. The event, organised by the National Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography (NIGGG-BAS), a key partner in SELINA, aimed to establish a collaborative platform for achieving transformative change.

The meeting kicked off with an introduction to the SELINA project, followed by a comprehensive exploration of the CoP concept, encompassing its terms, goals, and potential achievements. The discussion emphasised the inclusion of new members with a shared objective of contributing to transformative change.

Addressing the challenge of developing a sustainable community beyond the project's duration, participants explored various development scenarios, drawing inspiration from established entities like ESP, IPBES, and YESS. The goal is to build the CoP beyond a mere gathering of stakeholders, fostering a community of like-minded individuals keen on mutual knowledge enhancement within the quadruple helix framework.

The concept of "seeds of change" was introduced, encouraging participants to share in a questionnaire about initiatives and projects that build upon ecosystem mapping, monitoring, and modeling, actively aiming to change the existing social, economic, political, and/or technological order. These initiatives will be instrumental in driving transformational change within the community. The participants had the chance to further discuss in groups the proposed initiatives and projects and rank them based on their applicability. As a result, a list with potential “seeds of change” was established.

Concluding the meeting, discussions centered around the structure and functioning of the CoP, with a focus on topics related to ecosystem services. Participants deliberated on the next steps and future plans for the SELINA Community of Practice in Bulgaria, marking a significant step toward collaborative and impactful transformation. Future plans include coordination with other SELINA partners and their national communities, fostering international connectivity and forming an open network of Communities of Practice in Europe.