PONTOS Joint Open Workshop Conducted in Tbilisi

Within the framework of the EU-funded “Copernicus Assisted Environmental Monitoring Across the Black Sea Basin – PONTOS” project, the Joint Open Workshop was held on May 20, 2022, in Tbilisi, Georgia. The event was organized by the Green Alternative (GRAL) NGO to inform the participants from various Georgian local NGOs and the Authorities of Georgia, and International organizations representatives about PONTOS activities and their contribution to the environmental monitoring efforts.

The Workshop brought together 69 participants (including online) who represented regional and local public authorities, sectoral agencies, civil society, universities, enterprises, international organizations, media, and Project partners. The event focused on PONTOS project presentation and project activities, Implementation in pilot areas, and presentations by partner organizations implementing Black Sea Basin Cross Border Cooperation projects.

Photo Caption: Participants of the Joint Open Workshop

Mr. Irakli Matcharashvili of GRAL opened the Joint Open Workshop. Mr. Matcharashvili greeted the participants as the event’s organizer, highlighting the partnership’s valuable achievement in becoming a solid team responsible from administration to research.

The partnership went through Covid-19 and two wars, and exclusively the team’s commitment, dedication, and high sense of responsibility towards the consortium enabled the project to continue and grow.

“EU programs bring us together, allowing organizations in neighboring countries to partner on research and regional collaboration. This offers us the opportunity to build bridges, and we look forward to continuing to do that. At least in Armenia, the EU is the single biggest partner in building capacity in the academic community. The partnerships like the ones we’ve developed in PONTOS give us the basis to go to the next steps to deepen collaboration,” highlighted Alen Amirkhanian, Director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, the lead partner of the PONTOS project.

Photo Caption (from left to right): Alen Amirkhanian, Director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, Alexandre Darras, Attaché, Team Leader Connectivity, Energy, Environment & Climate change, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia Irakli Matcharashvili (GRAL), Aghavni Harutyunyan, PONTOS project manager, AUA

The opening session went on with welcome remarks by Dr. Nato Sultanishvili, Head of the Planning and Development Division, Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia, Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Mrs. Nino Antadze, Team Leader, Energy, and Environment Portfolio, UNDP Georgia, Mr. Alexandre Daddras, Attaché, Team Leader Connectivity, Energy, Environment & Climate change, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.

Mr. Alexandre Darras presented the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia. While speaking about the project, he mentioned that “the cross-border cooperation format is an instrument that the EU likes to have. It goes in line with the spirit of what the EU is”. Mr. Darras said that the slogan “Common borders. Common solutions” is a civilization call or a symbol meaning that there is a common duty to find solutions.

He highlighted that the Black Sea is a commonwealth, and the PONTOS project aims at improving the environmental monitoring in the Black Sea basin to protect the natural environment.

Presentation of PONTOS project, PONTOS Platform and Assessments

A comprehensive overview of the project was presented by Ms. Aghavni Harutyunyan, Project Manager from the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment. She highlighted the three main objectives of the project — from the technology transfer among the Black Sea nations to the development of the knowledge infrastructure of online services and encouraging the use of the Copernicus program for environmental monitoring and engaging local and regional actors at multiple levels.

The session continued with the presentation of the PONTOS platform by Ms. Maria Banti, Research Assistant, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), and Mr. Eleftherios Katsikis, Research Assistant, (CERTH), and by Ms. Nikolaos Kokkos, PostDoc Researcher, Democritus University of Thrace.

By incorporating various tools and applications, the PONTOS platform is built for everyone interested in online analyses of environmental monitoring. We support and enhance environmental monitoring using all the tools and Copernicus data available and building on the shared knowledge. The PONTOS platform will have three services — PONTOS Data Cube, PONTOS Web Application, and PONTOS Web GIS.

Photo Caption: Presentation of PONTOS Platform

PONTOS platform incorporates and is being built on the practical experiments in several areas, and five assessments are being carried out, which will enable the platform to have the respective modules for the future. The five assessments include Assessment of dynamics of coastal line changes, Assessment of forest cover changes and their consequences on the environment, Assessment of changes in wetland and floating vegetation cover, Assessment of chlorophyll concentration and eutrophication dynamics, and Agricultural water balance, water productivity, and water stress indices. PONTOS project researchers made presentations on each Assessment. The assessments come to improve data sharing and cross-border information exchange systems on the environment within the Black Sea.

Photo Caption: Presentation of the PONTOS Assessments of Pilot Areas

Enhancing partnership and knowledge sharing

To highlight the importance of creating and maintaining collaborations with other local and international projects GRAL invited partners from other Georgian organizations who are implementing projects under the EU’s Black Sea Border (BSB) Cross Border Cooperation (CBC). Particularly the following projects were presented: Zero waste project presented by Alexander Kaladdadze from Civitas Georgica organization, BSB ECO Monitoring project presented by Mariam Archuadze from Sabuko and finally AGREEN project, presented by Mariam Jorjadze from Elkana.

The Joint Open Workshop was concluded by a Press Conference aiming to communicate PONTOS message with the local Media.

Presentations by other BSB projects in Georgia