Water availability represent a growing challenge in Europe. Since 1980, the number of droughts in Europe has increased, and they have become more severe, costing an estimated €100 billion over the past 30 years. According to the European Commission, the world may face a 40% water shortfall by 2030, threatening social and economic development. An innovative response to this social challenge is needed. Traditional solutions aren’t the answer. Social innovation plays a significant role in combatting these environmental problems, that are always linked in some way to social, economic and financial shortcomings.
Droughts are common in Portugal. However, their frequency and intensity have increased in the last decades. This year the drought has been more severe than ever, especially inland and in the south of the country.
Nemesis project “Saving Water” is being developed by a 7th-grade class with 28 students of EB 2,3 located in Gueifães, a village between the cities of Maia and Oporto. This school belongs to Maia´s Cluster of Schools.
The class identified the problem in an activity based on a previous analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals. Until now, two co-creation labs have already taken place, gathering together students, teachers, parents, municipality and social innovators.
In the first co-creation lab the social innovators introduced themselves and shared the story of their journey through social innovation. Students presented the problem they identified and finally, in small groups, gathering different spokespeole and using a participatory method – with the aid of tools like ‘Empathy map’ –everyone reflected on a video they watched and jointly discussed their thoughts on this.
The second co-creation lab took place exactly one month later. In the citizenship classes, the students had already started, in small groups, to design some possible project ideas to help fight water wastage. In the co-creation lab, with the help of the adults and particularly the young social innovators, they solidified their ideas into more sustainable projects using project-based learning methodology.
At the moment different groups of students are investigating topics like water consumption and water wastage within their schools; water recycling and reuse technologies and are organizing campaigns about this issue as well as recycling clothes and growing an organic garden. All in the name of saving water.
Finally, another important aspect of this project is the chance to work with students from the other side of the world. The Portuguese students are exchanging ideas with their colleagues from the Portuguese School in Dili, East Timor. They have shared a small video about water wastage in their country while the Portuguese students, in turn, will write an article about their project. This will be published in the Portuguese School’s magazine in Dili.
Ana Carvalho and Raquel Sarmento
About the project