Dear readers, let me introduce to you a young and passionate environmentalist from Kosovo who is making a lot of efforts to change the environment we live in.
Dion Deva is an environmentalist and activist, who has studied mechatronics engineering at the University of Prishtina in Kosovo. Currently, he is the CEO and founder of TePema (At the tree) company. Let’s dig a little deeper into his journey as an activist and environmentalist.
What has inspired you to become an environmental activist and to take action on environmental issues?
Prishtina, as we know, sometimes leads the list as the most air-polluted city in the world, that’s why I started my activity in climate issues. As a student at the University of Prishtina, we started with the need for clean air, where we formed a group of students from various departments to raise awareness for clean air and green spaces in urban areas. This commitment results in the company TePema which designs the spaces where we live with green products and projects.
When did you first become aware of the environmental issues that surround us?
Everything started from the time we were students. During the winter season, I remember the way home from the college, me and my colleagues, due to the air pollution, started having little problems with the respiratory system, mainly caused by the households that burned coal for heating.
How would you assess that the environmental issues affect the community we live in?
The very first problems in the community are health issues, respiratory diseases, increasing cancer rate, and lower well-being in general which are manifested by fatigue, low motivation, and higher levels of stress which I believe stem from the air pollution, water pollution, lack of green spaces, inefficient buildings, etc. In the economic sphere, the impact increases exponentially, starting from the low level of productivity of human resources to the increase of inequality in society. These are in the short term which we are currently experiencing and not only, while the long-term impact can bring irreparable consequences for us as a civilization.
What are the environmental issues that concern you the most and what are you doing to take action on such environmental issues?
In some directions, measures have been taken by governments and international organizations since the Paris Agreement of 2015 onwards, but I do not see enough concrete steps in populated urban spaces. Urban areas are expected to be populated by up to 70% of the current 50% of the world population. According to the UN, this increase will reduce the well-being of citizens and increase the negative impact of climate change, therefore, I believe that interventions should be made in these areas. We need smart cities and dynamic urban infrastructure that enables city management. We as a company have designed and produced urban green products which enable the growth of green spaces and save space, such as TePema T, TePema Txl, Vertical Gardens, etc., now we are working on the product Facade 2.0 which increases the efficiency of energy and makes our buildings green. In all our products and projects we have associated flora with technology.
What are the main causes that are ruining the environment?
Most people talk about big industries and companies that spoil the environment and it is true. We cannot be satisfied with such an approach. I think the habits and way of life that we cultivate are related to excessive consumerism and dynamic living to the detriment of the environment. Another front that needs to be further developed is to raise the awareness of citizens about the lifestyle we have as students, parents, workers, activists, owners, politicians, etc.
What do you think the level of awareness of youngsters in Kosovo (or in the region) is to protect the environment?
In other countries, there is more institutional awareness in some cases, but not more popular awareness, as in the region. There is not enough climate change awareness among young people but it is higher than that of previous generations in our region.
I think the same for most other countries in the world, compared to the circumstances in which we find ourselves due to our history as Kosovo and the region, we do not stand too badly with other countries in terms of awareness, I think globally we have low awareness; therefore, we have endless films and documentaries on climate change.
Germany plans to re-operate dozens of power plants to generate electricity, while poor countries are pressured not to use their much smaller resources in the name of climate change, I mean without equality between decision-making societies and living standards we cannot compare who is more protecting the environment that belongs to us all. We need more democratic countries and sustainable economies in all Western Balkan to increase the level of youth awareness and institutional awareness of climate change.
What would be your message to them, and how would you encourage young people to become more environmentally friendly?
In the Balkans, we have wonderful nature which many of us visit often, two things we have to bring with us when we return home, the first is to bring nature to our homes and the second is garbage.
Photo courtesy of Dion Deva
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