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29 August 2018

The Forum  "Circular Economy – Prioroty of the Next EU Programming Period" marked the start of the only master's degree programme in Circular Economy in Bulgaria.

The event was organized by Varna Free University together with the District Governor of the District of Varna Mr Stoyan Pasev. Among the special guests were Mr George Kremlis, Honorary Director of the European Commission's Directorate General Environment, under whose patronage the master's degree programme in Circular Economy is implemented, Mrs Atanaska Nikolova, Deputy Minister of Environment and Water, Mr Yancheng Mao, Head of the Education Department at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Bulgaria.

The forum was opened by the President of Varna Free University Prof. Anna Nedyalkova, D.Sc. who expressed special gratitude to all district governors, mayors of municipalities, representatives of business and non-governmental organizations as well as representatives of the academic community and students for their attendance and readiness to discuss such an important issue as the circular economy.

The President of  Varna Free University turned with special words of gratitude to Mr George Kremlis, calling him the "provocateur" of the ideas, of the master's degree programme in Circular Economy and a "provocateur" of actions and also the engine across Europe for the implementation of a very important transition in favour of the sustainable development of society. Gratitude was also expressed to the partners of the educational and scientific and expert consultancy programme of Varna Free University in the field of circular economy - the Ministry of Environment and Water in the person of Deputy Minister Atanaska Nikolova.

Last but not least, the President of Varna Free University expressed her gratitude to the District Governor of the District of Varna Mr Stoyan Pasev for his active participation in the organization of the forum and the preparation of his colleagues from this country to build the necessary administrative capacity for the absorption of the resources of the next programming period.
Among the partners of the programme, Prof. Nedyalkova also mentioned the Committee on the Environment and Water of the Parliament of the Republic of Bulgaria through the personal participation of its Chairperson Mrs Ivelina Vasileva.

The Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Mrs Lilyana Pavlova also sent a special congratulatory address to the participants in the forum.

All of you who participate in the forum will be the engine of the transformation to a circular economy. So I am convinced that shared ideas, opinions and practice will benefit everyone in order to identify the risks and overcome the obstacles. Because we want to live on a healthier, cleaner and green planet. And to do this, we need to start with education, training, to develop expertise and professionalism, Minister Pavlova said in her address. Varna Free University "Chernorizets Hrabar" offers this opportunity and with the opening of the programme there are prospects, which will be in the interest of the European Community. The university has repeatedly demonstrated active activity related to the expansion of research, innovative initiatives and creation of sustainable development in the field of education, making it appear among the  leading Bulgarian higher education institutions, added also the Minister.

Prof. Anna Nedyalkova, D.Sc. presented the project of VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar" "Innovative Education for Economic Growth and Social Inclusion". Part of the project is the innovative master's degree programmes in the field of circular economy, entrepreneurship, cyber security, Data Science and intelligent security systems.

The problems of the circular economy are global problems. They are problems of global competitiveness ... so when other conventional models do not work, we have to look for new models of behaviour, new business models that will guarantee the transition from linear to circular economy, Prof. Nedyalkova is definite. According to her, this new type of economy can guarantee both new jobs and new sources of resources, new investments and the creation of new added value.
The need for a new kind of human resources requires partnership, Prof. Nedyalkova also commented. Today, we set the foundation for this partnership between business, education, national and local authorities, and non-governmental organizations. We launch an educational and scientific and expert consultancy programme with many opportunities for bachelor and master training, for doctoral programmes. We also have the first doctoral student of Varna Free University in the field of circular economy, who is the mayor of the municipality. The core of the master's degree programme in Circular Economy is the achievement of synergy between knowledge, skills and good practices, Prof. Nedyalkova said.
The goal of all that we have planned within this project is to build together in a timely manner specialists for the sustainable development of the municipalities, the business, the future of Europe and Bulgaria.

Many of the initiatives of Varna Free University succeed because we undertake them with reliable partners, said the Rector of the University Prof. Galya Gercheva, PhD. One of these partners in this forum is the District Governor of the Distrcit of Varna Mr Stoyan Pasev.

We must work together with the secondary and higher education, with all of you, colleagues, regional governors, representatives of the local government, because the future is in our hands, pointed out the district governor of the District of Varna. We are entering an extremely important period, which is the next programming period, and we must be prepared for this, Pasev is definifte. He also announced his enrolment as a PhD student in the Varna Free University programme in Circular Economiy and once again thanked everyone for the attendance at the forum.

Not accidentally,  Bulgaria declared the transition to a circular economy and resource efficiency as a key priority during the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the field of environment, with the aim of achieving sustainable development and sustainable growth for the whole European Union, said the Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Atanaska Nikolova. In recent years, we have taken the necessary steps to make the change from linear to circular economy, but thinking, as we all know, is changing in the most difficult way, especially when it comes out of what is common and established. In order to make this change a major part of education and research institutes, I welcome the management of Varna Free University and Mr Kremlis for the initiative to launch the master's degree programme in Circular Economy.

An initiative that I am convinced will help and accelerate the transition to a sustainable, circular economy because, regardless of the laws, policies, strategies we develop if there is no prepared ground, a society ready for transition, trained specialists who are ready to apply the new models, we can hardly talk about a successful transition, Deputy Minister Nikolova said.
Nikolova believes, that the relation between education-science-business should be encouraged and developed to find innovation application in practice. She stressed the role of politicians in creating an environment that encourages  science, education and realization of young people in Bulgaria. Last but not least, success is achieved in partnership. That is why it is so important that here at this forum, at the launch of this new master's  degree programme, we are here - representatives of the scientific community, of the institutions at state, regional, and local level; representatives of the business.
Mr Yancheng Mao, Head of the Department of Education at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Bulgaria, also welcomed the participants in the forum.

Mr. Mao stressed the importance of the circular economy as an inevitable choice for sustainable development and shared the desire of many Chinese universities to build successful partnerships with Bulgarian universities and in particular with Varna Free University.

The programme of the forum continued with the participation of the special guest, Mr George Kremlis, under whose patronage the master's degree programme in Circular Economy is implemented.

It's a real pleasure for me to be here today when we  put  together the start of a master's degree programme in  Circular Economy. I would like to point out that Varna Free University  is a “pioneer” in this field because it is the first of its kind in the European Union, which is an opportunity for the promotion of this subject-matter, both within the European Union,  and outside it, which is extremely important.The Honorary Director of the Environment Directorate of the European Commission emphasized the role and participation of the President of Varna Free University Prof. Anna Nedyalkova, D.Sc. in this initiative. He noted the importance of the educational and scientific and expert consultancy programme of VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar", which includes training in bachelor, master and doctoral degrees to create new horizons for the development of the topic of Circular Economy. 

Thus, the role of Varna Free University will be quite visible on the map of Europe and the world, Kremlis is definite. He stressed that the presence of the Deputy Minister Atanaska Nikolova is an obvious sign of the support for the initiative of the Ministry of Environment and Water. The presence of the first group of students in the master’s degree programme from the Smolyan Branch received the applause of the crowded hall and personal congratulations from Mr. Kremlis.

Of course, other students from Varna, from other cities, as well as students from abroad will enroll in this programme as I am convinced that the programme will attract great attention and interest. In his presentation to the participants in the forum, George Kremlis dwelt upon several key elements related to the transition from the linear to the circular economy. (you can see here the complete presentation of Mr George Kremlis).
The forum continued with a presentation given by Prof. Eng. Ivan Dombalov, Director of the Balkan Scientific and Educational Centre for Ecology and Environmental Protection, who presented the waste as an alternative raw material and energy resource.

It is a great honour for me to stand before such a respectable audience and to talk about the practice of waste processing at a time when a modern and innovative master’s degree programme that is absolutely necessary in our time is being launched. It is very difficult to talk after   Mr  Kremlis because this is the person who contributed most to solving the ecological problems in Europe, commented the Director of the Household Waste Treatment Plant "ECOINVEST AETS" AD, Mr Emil Dichev. He dwelt upon the state and problems of waste processing by presenting the point of view of the business. To date, we are seeing a lack of administrative capacity to cope with the problems in this area, he says. According to him, there is a lack of well-trained specialists, both in the local government and in the private sector. This leads to making not so good, adequate or proper solutions for waste management. I admire the management of Varna Free University, because this is a free niche for the training of quality specialists who will yet to begin studying here. Moreover, this shows the link between university and business, because there is usually a big gap between what business needs and what universities produce. Emil Dichev stated his categorical support and announced that the Household Waste Treatment Plant ECOINVEST ASSETS will be a partner of the master’s degree programme and will provide opportunities for student placements in a real business environment.

The forum ended with a presentation of the master's degree programme by Prof. Emil Panushev, PhD.

During the discussion, the mayor of the Municipality of Rudozem, Mr Rumen Pehlivanov, expressed his admiration for the management of Varna Free University because it keeps pace with today’s demands. A major problem for both secondary and higher education is the discrepancy of the professional skills that students receive with the needs of business and administration. Bulgaria has established itself in the last few years as a leader in the training of software specialists. I hope that you will produce the next leaders at European level, that you will create those leaders and those professionals who will materialize what Mr Kremlis spoke about and they will achieve the objectives set by the European Union. I hope that this master's degree programme students will be among the most successful young people in the next years, Rumen Pehlivanov added.

Everything I have heard until now convinces me that the theme is not only extremely interesting but also really topical, as it is in the way that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony begins - with the blows of fate ..., commented the Chairperson of the Varna Court of Appeal, Vanuhi Arakelyan. It does credit to Varna Free University and the District Governor Stoyan Pasev that they managed to see what will be topical, problematic, important, significant and at the centre of the public interest for the next 20 years.
As a result of the increased interest and public support, the enrolment deadline for the master‘s degree programme in Circular Economy is extended up to 15 september, 2018.