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Mariia Ruda joins the PLUS Change project to represent the urban community of the Western region of Ukraine, with a focus on ecologists, researchers, activists and mental health.

 My name is Maria RUDA, and I represent two organizations: I am a member of the Nongovernmental organization Mission of Sustainable Development and an associate professor at the National University of Lviv Polytechnic

I am a professional ecologist, manager of environmental projects, and I consider ecosystem adaptation to climate change, ecosystem services, soil restoration technologies, fragmentation, etc. to be the field of my scientific and professional interests.

What community or organisation are you representing in the project?

In PLUS Change, I represent the Nongovernmental organization Mission of Sustainable Development. 

We mainly deal with projects related to ecology and environmental protection. Our organisation had a rebranding two years ago, which is connected with the expansion of project topics and the increase of the team. In 2016, on the initiative of a team of like-minded people, the ecological movement of the Lviv Region Clean City, the ecological initiative of the city, was formed. I had the honor to be in the team of those who were involved in the development of the city’s development strategy. We also developed an environmental education program. Many initiatives today formed the basis of the city development program, and other new initiatives. 

What motivated you to apply to become an ambassador?

I consider this project as an opportunity to improve my knowledge, and to spread the best practices and ideas in my community. I would like to work with colleagues in different countries of the world. It is interesting for me to learn the practices of other project participants: what works, what does not work. Since the topic of my scientific research is ecosystem services, as well as the fragmentation of territory, the issue of land use is interesting in this context. 

How does your work correspond with PLUS Change?

 For many years now, I have had the opportunity to cooperate in the public environmental council with professional ecologists in my communities. As a co-founder of the ecological movement in Lviv, I have the opportunity to exchange knowledge with other public organizations. I also conduct trainings, forums and other events that allow for the formation of environmental awareness. My work today is largely related to the dissemination of cases and the explanation of new ideas for the purpose of implementation. I plan to spread the results of PLUS Change in my community. I also plan to use the acquired new knowledge, skills and abilities to implement new projects in Ukraine. I also find it interesting to share experiences with other PLUS Change participants. 

What are you looking forward to in the coming years?

 In connection with the situation in my country, the greatest expectation is the end of the war. I think that this is not only my wish, but also that of millions of Ukrainians and all those who believe in the idea of democratic freedoms. When this happens, I plan to continue to improve my competences, to develop in the field of ecology and environmental protection. I plan to improve my skills as a project manager and practice more with my students. To be an agent of change in my community and an example for those I teach.