Voices from Eurasia


Step aside, Pokemon Go: Moldova goes Mega to fight climate change

by

The economic losses of Moldova related to natural disasters are almost 61 million USD.

The disastrous droughts of 2007 and 2012 affected over 70 per cent of the territory of the country. They were also historically the most severe droughts in the entire instrumental record period.

Though the intensity and frequency of such disasters are expected to increase, it is not easy to start a public debate about climate change.

Even beyond Moldova, climate change is often considered a myth, and it often takes a lot of work – and creativity – to convince people that it is real, that it is happening now and that we need to act.

So we wondered: Could we use gaming as a way to raise awareness?

With a grant received from the European Union through the GEF Small Grants Programme, we launched the MEGA Game.

MEGA Game is a gamified web platform and smartphone app. It seeks to engage two target groups into action:

  • young individuals, or “Green Agents”;

  • environmental organizations and environmentally-focused companies, or the “Mission Providers”.

The game is filled with missions, quests, and real-world challenges, as well as online trainings and courses.

Here is how the game works:

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  1. Mission Providers lists practical tasks which require completion.

  2. The individual players – the Green Agents – can then take on any of these missions;

  3. In return the players receive skill badges, immediate feedback and other rewards which help them remain invested in playing the game and handling even higher-level missions.

Let me walk you through an example. There is a mission on measuring and reducing carbon emissions of each player.

To begin the mission, a Green Agent watches a training module to learn how personal carbon footprint is estimated.

There are certain web resources to calculate CO2 footprint.

So, the Agent completes the tasks which are part of the mission description and sends a report with their results.

The Mission Provider verifies the report and gives a certain amount of experience points (depending on the Agents’ results and the complexity of a mission: simple missions reward with 1 – 10 points, while the challenging ones can be valued at 100+ experience points), feedback and skill badges to the Green Agent.

With more missions completed, the Green Agent eventually ends up with a CV-like practical profile which showcases a list of skills and a public record of positive changes undertaken. This profile can be shared with recruiters in environmental NGOs and green businesses; at the same time the Mission Provider benefits from cost-efficient volunteer support for its social / environmental projects and also a record of real-life impact achieved.

 

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In 2015, our focus as UNDP in Moldova was on water management. So we organized a MEGA Impact Championship that engaged more than 200 young people and 5 NGOs, which we implemented through the game interface. Here is what we achieved:

  • More than a ton of waste removed and recycled;

  • 20+ trees on about 1 ha of land in the region of Gagauzia planted;

  • An interactive Water Map of Moldova developed;

  • 60+ wells and their water quality created and published on-line.

And that’s not all! In the last year alone, the MEGA Game users reduced their carbon footprint with 3 tons of CO2. How? By planting carbon-capturing trees and using more bicycles as means of transportation to research sites and mission locations.

We’re proud to have invented, piloted and tested MEGA Game in Moldova. It has already received a number of awards, including at ClimateLaunchpad and Ideas4Change. Now the game is running in the Netherlands.

We are continually improving Mega Game.  Watch this space for further updates, and don’t forget to check us out!

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