BeeActive: programmers and designers wanted to support the survival of bees

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WWF Romania, Code4Romania and Design Thinking Society have launched a competition to develop a mobile application that brings together the world of plants, pollinators and gastronomy.

The Innovate for Bees competition aims to create a unique mobile application in Romania for the identification of plant species and their pollinators, including a citizen engagement platform and a space for recipes of non-alcoholic beverages and plant-based culinary delights.

Mixed teams of programmers and designers/UX experts from across the country are invited to apply with prototypes of an app capable of doing the above.

“What do technology and bees have in common? Both benefit communities around the world. It’s time to put digital to work so we can create sustainable solutions for the environment and those who care for it,” says Olivia Vereha, Co-Founder of Code for Romania.

The competition runs from September 20 to November 5. Registration can be done by mixed teams of 2 or 3 members maximum until September 29, by filling in the registration form. After that, registered teams have 3 weeks to design a prototype. The organizers will provide all the content necessary for the technical and graphic development of the application.

The prototypes will be evaluated by a jury composed of representatives of the competition organizers: WWF, Code4Romania and Design Thinking Society, as well as partners of the D. Brândză Botanical Garden in Bucharest, Ierburi Uitate – the botanical bar, and the FIX/Artichoke café, as well as the communication agency Kooperativa.

Following the evaluation, 5 finalist solutions will be selected and the teams that submitted them will be invited to present their solution live during an event, where the winning team will be announced. The prize consists of a budget of 8,000 euros where the winning team will have to develop the full version of the application.

Participants will have access to mentoring sessions provided by Code4Romania and Design Thinking Society, as well as webinars on various topics offered by our partners mentioned above.

The aim of the application is to bring people closer to the fascinating world of plants and insects in Romania and to put at their fingertips a tool to get involved in their safeguarding at a critical moment – the manifestation of climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

The application is developed within the project BeeActive – Mobilizing citizens for the conservation of bees and other pollinating insects in Romania, developed by WWF Romania in partnership with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), with the financial support from Active Citizens Fund Romania.

Monia Martini, BeeActive project manager at WWF Romania, says that “people are generally afraid of bees and don’t take into account that they make an important contribution to our quality of life – from providing food by pollinating plants fruit and vegetable producers, to bee products, to their essential role in ensuring the natural balance. We want to increase our understanding of these plants and make them interesting and useful in our personal lives through the next interactive mobile application. Moreover, this is the first time that people will be able to influence public policies or decisions for the conservation of pollinating insects in our country with their mobile phones.”

According to WWF Romania, pollinators are a vital component of ecosystems, including their role in the reproduction of wild plants and in the pollination of agricultural crops.

Their rapid decline, documented in a growing body of scientific research and caused by industrial farming practices, habitat damage and loss, and disease, represents the beginning of a systemic crisis for global environmental health and food security.

This is why, for example, neonicotinoid pesticides, toxic to bees, have been totally banned from the external environment by the European Commission, and why some Member States have developed national strategies to halt the decline and conserve pollinators, involving citizens in various actions. However, Romania does not have such a strategy, and the subject is not on the agenda of the responsible authorities; moreover, Romania grants annual derogations from European legislation to allow the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in agriculture.

Through the BeeActive project, Romania wants to improve the country’s legislation, with the participation of citizens and all stakeholders and decision-makers, by launching an interdisciplinary consultation process to develop a national strategy and a concrete action plan to protect pollinators.

They say this should include funding programs for pollinator-friendly farming practices through the national strategic plan for the implementation of the EU Common Agricultural Policy for 2023-2027, which is currently being prepared. by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

More information about the project is available here.

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(Photo source: wing kit | Dreamstime.com)

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