PLANET4B // Unlocking Insights from the Workshop on Systems Mapping with the Learning Community

On February 24, 2024, the PLANET4B Learning Community convened for an inspiring and insightful workshop in Thuringia, Germany. The event brought together a diverse group of young people aged 22-27 from both EU and non-EU countries, alongside a representative from an NGO focused on sustainable agriculture. This gathering, facilitated by Maryna Bykova from CGE, aimed to delve into the complex interplay between urban youth, biodiversity, and sustainable decision-making.

The workshop kicked off with a warm welcome and a brief update on the current progress of the PLANET4B project. The participants, already familiar with each other from previous activities, quickly settled into a collaborative and productive atmosphere. The initial discussions revolved around two key research questions, setting the stage for deeper exploration.

Slides from the Workshop 1 presentation. Source: PLANET4B consortium.

One of the first tasks involved pairing up to discuss the challenges of prioritizing biodiversity in daily life. This exercise revealed several compelling insights. Participants highlighted the tension between real-life priorities such as job security and economic stability and the need for sustainable practices. The consensus was clear: “personal survival” often takes precedence over environmental concerns, underscoring the need for integrative strategies that do not force a trade-off between the two.

The workshop also emphasized the transformative power of experiential learning. Engaging activities like outdoor interventions, games, and workshops were recognized as crucial for creating emotional bonds with the topic of biodiversity. Such experiences not only enhance learning but also make it more impactful and memorable.

Photos from the Workshop 1 presentation. Source: Maryna Bykova.

A significant part of the discussion focused on the difficulties of feeling empowered to make a change, especially for individuals from less privileged backgrounds. Participants voiced concerns about systemic inequalities that disproportionately empower affluent individuals while hindering those with fewer resources. This dialogue shed light on the critical need for inclusive empowerment strategies.

Economic and survival concerns emerged as another key theme. The concept of “survival mode,” where immediate needs overshadow broader environmental issues, was explored. Participants noted that this state can limit the capacity for long-term engagement with biodiversity. This insight calls for innovative approaches to support economic security while fostering environmental awareness.

Volunteering was proposed as a potential pathway for engaging with nature conservation. The group discussed existing programs like Germany’s FÖJ (Voluntary Ecological Year) and BFD (Federal Voluntary Service), emphasizing the need for broader and more accessible initiatives. Institutional support was highlighted as essential to make volunteering viable without compromising living standards.

As the workshop progressed, participants mapped out various factors influencing young people’s engagement with biodiversity using an onion diagram. Health concerns, economic factors, education, and global influences were among the direct and indirect influencers discussed. The role of social and political structures, colonization and power dynamics, and intersectionality in environmental engagement were also critically examined.

Photos from the Workshop 1 presentation. Source: Fatima Azadli.

In conclusion, the PLANET4B Learning Community workshop provided a rich platform for young urban enthusiasts to engage deeply with the challenges and opportunities of biodiversity and sustainability. The insights gained from this session will undoubtedly guide future activities and initiatives, reinforcing the community’s commitment to creating a sustainable and biodiverse world.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue this journey towards fostering a deeper understanding and commitment to biodiversity in urban settings.

For more information about the project or to explore opportunities for collaboration, visit the PLANET4B website or email

About PLANET4B Project  

Horizon Europe research project PLANET4B aims to understand and influence decision making affecting biodiversity and to map existing knowledge that explains why certain decisions are made, to understand better how biodiversity can be prioritised in our decision-making. 

PLANET4B receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101082212.

This project is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee.

This project receives funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).


Contact person:

Maryna Bykova, CGE Erfurt e.V.

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