A couple of years ago, Gulnara lived like a very ordinary person. She worked, had fun with friends and like many others, did not think about how her seemingly ordinary lifestyle contributes to the pollution of nature.
Everything changed after her participation in the eco-challenge, which took place in Turkmenistan: “I learned a lot about climate change and how it threatens human health and the future of our planet” says Gulnara. “I started learning how to live an environmentally friendly life and tried to encourage others towards sustainability. I realized that all my peers also know very little about environmental issues.” It was then that Gulnara came up with a brilliant idea – to open a blog on her social media account to raise public awareness and encourage behavioral change in favor of the planet.
Today, Gulnara Tayjanova is the first ever and the only eco-blogger of Turkmenistan. As a prominent social media influencer, Gulnara has done a lot to promote behavioural change in local communities by providing guidance on living with less waste. Gulnara is also a founder of an online Eco-Market, which serves as platform for marketing eco-friendly products and thus supporting the growth of ‘green’ businesses in the country.
“I am your guide towards ecological lifestyle. I’ll tell you where and what is recycled” Gulnara’s biography says on her Instagram account. “I am the one who cares”. This inspiring introduction to Gulnara’s social media account called “Nature’s helper” resulted in an increase of her subscribers’ interest in environmental issues and quickly turned Gulnara’s social network into a platform for sharing knowledge about the current state of the climate and discussing the most important environmental challenges facing humanity.
On her Instagram account, Gulnara talks about different environmental problems and highlights simple tips that everyone can follow to become more sustainable. “In my blog, I talk in simple words about what environmental problems exist and how each of us can help to save the planet. Using my personal example, I show how to reduce the amount of waste, how to sort them at home, inform about where to carry them and what they are then recycled into,” – says Gulnara. “I see that my followers demonstrate their willingness to be engaged and take actions towards becoming greener. My role is to help and show them the way how they can do it”.
Gulnara’s role in promoting behavioural change towards a sustainable future has made her a role model for youth eco-activists, who have become her active followers. Her openness and dedication have made her an influential eco-activist, to whom people listen and follow. Like any other influencer to have comprehensive situation awareness and possess the most verified information, Gulnara relies on international experience and actively works with experts.
Two years ago, Gulnara began to actively participate in the activities related to sustainable waste management within the UNDP and the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan project “Sustainable Cities in Turkmenistan: Integrated Green Urban Development in Ashgabat and Avaza”, funded by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF).
The project is aimed at promoting the development of sustainable cities and reducing the negative impacts of urban growth in the country, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, impact of increasing energy consumption and household waste, as part of the country’s efforts to achieve the socio-economic development goals. The project provides technical assistance, institutional and policy support, and promotes behavioral change in relation to efficient use of resources and waste management covering Ashgabat and Avaza, as well as creates a basis for replicating the results in other cities of the country.
Gulnara often visits a local waste sorting and recycling enterprises to inform her followers know that Turkmenistan has a waste management system, which is expanding and improving as a result of UNDP pilot activities. “People should know that we do have a recycling and even a waste collection points, which appeared recently with the support of UNDP project on Sustainable cities.”
To find answers to her subscribers’ questions, this year Gulnara organized an interview with the UNDP Project specialists to tell readers about the national system of waste management being introduced with the assistance of UNDP and the Nature protection Society of Turkmenistan. This interview video was posted on Gulnara’s and UNDP Turkmenistan social media channels and sparked active discussions among the public on rational consumption and a sustainable lifestyle.
Moreover, Gulnara acted as a co-organizer of an informal conversation with young eco-activists, hosted by UNDP Turkmenistan in February this year to raise climate change awareness and engage youth in eco-friendly initiatives.
With the support of Gulnara and other meeting participants, the event was accompanied by active discussions and social media content creation aimed at raising public awareness on UNDP’s mandate and goals, as well as stimulating discussions on sustainability-oriented behavioral change among the local population. “The behavior of each of us matters and adds value to the climate change action” – noted Gulnara at the meeting.
The event was part of the UNDP series of informal conversations with youth to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to a more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions. “Such innovative initiatives help people understand the impact of human-caused pollution on human and ecosystem health and contribute to further discussions of how behavioral change towards a sustainable lifestyle can reduce the problem,” – says Narine Sahakyan, UNDP Resident Representative in Turkmenistan.
During the meeting of UNDP with young eco-activists Gulnara made a number of valuable suggestions to increase youth engagement in the efforts of UNDP, including the initiation of a project on homeless animals.
The human attitude towards animals is actually one of the main topics of Gulnara’s Instagram blog.
“My love of animals might have come from my mother. When I was a child, my mother did not pass by any homeless animal, she tried to cure and feed them, and she still does this.”
Gulnara often goes to shelters for homeless animals to tell later their sad stories to her subscribers and make them show care “I explain that it is not necessary to buy purebred kittens or puppies, there are many mongrels in the shelter, worthy of our attention, love and care.”
Gulnara’s media account, which she started as a blog to provide tips and recommendations on environmental issues, has now turned into something more – a social platform for promotion of healthy lifestyle and knowledge sharing, a call for actions and change. Gulnara’s efforts to promote change towards a sustainable future made her a role model for other young people. “By my personal example I demonstrate how each of us can make a difference by reducing our carbon footprint. I stand ready to support my followers in their obligatory path to a life without waste.” /// nCa, 22 April 2022 (in cooperation with UNDP Turkmenistan)