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An Interview with Aistė Gadliauskaitė, National Coordinator for Lithuania

22 November 2021

Experiencing EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK for the first time is an unforgettable event. Participants’ and organisers’ commitment to raising awareness about sustainable mobility througout the year, and during the main event from 16 to 22 September, is inspiring. That’s why we sat down (virtually) with Aistė Gadliauskaitė, the National Coordinator for Lithuania, to learn more about her first ever EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK.

You joined EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK as a National Coordinator this year. What was your first impression of the campaign?

I had heard about EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK before, but I didn't know that not only European countries but also countries from other continents participate in this campaign. This broad involvement of countries made me realise the international importance of the event.

Although the campaign is quite well-known in Lithuania, as a new person I wanted to bring new wind. Of course to do that, you need to understand the steps involved in organising the campaign and so on. Another thing that impressed me was that, although many National Coordinators work voluntarily and nobody is obliged to help other countries, the coordinators in the other countries are very helpful. We had phone calls with the National Coordinators and they shared their experiences. The first virtual meetings made me realise how friendly and inspired these people are.

What ideas do you have for next year’s campaign in Lithuania?

Lithuania can be proud that, even in a pandemic situation, municipalities were eager to join the campaign and the various restrictions did not dampen their motivation to organise fun activities related to active and sustainable mobility. We can be pleased that more than 40 municipalities took part in the campaign, as well as businesses and public institutions. However, we do not have one specific event on sustainable mobility that unites all citizens. For example, on 6 July, our National Day is celebrated by singing the National Anthem at 9 pm throughout Lithuania. Next year's goal would be to come up with an activity during EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK that would become a unifying, mass event.

Are there particular topics related to sustainable mobility that seem more popular in Lithuania? If so, why do you think that is?

We are talking more and more about sustainable mobility in Lithuania, in order to encourage people to choose alternative ways of travel. The transport sector in Lithuania is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with cars being the most polluting and many people owning more than one of them. That is why we talk a lot about the need to change our habits, to switch from polluting cars to less polluting ones, and to make more use of public transport or alternative transport services. Talking about alternative means of travel is particularly important as we have set the goal of becoming a climate-neutral country. Each of us must rethink what we can do to stop climate change and choosing to travel sustainably is one of the ways.

It might be hard to choose, but name one action or event from Lithuania that really inspired you this year and please tell us why.

I am very pleased that our friends from the Ministry of Transport and Communications have taken the initiative to organise an exhibition of environmentally friendly vehicles in one of the capital's main streets. Sometimes what we read in the media and see in advertisements can seem very distant. But when you can get up close and personal with these innovations, feel them, and get useful information, it can encourage you to change your habits. It was fun to see people looking around, getting to know environmentally friendly ways of travel. Knowledge leads to change!

What was your favourite part of your first EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK?

The best part of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK was to see everyone, from youngest to oldest, getting involved in the campaign. Young people are also very active in this week's activities and we can learn a lot from them. I am also very pleased that my colleagues at work were exemplary throughout the week: the Ministry's car yard was empty, we had a fun, active mobility lesson, we competed against each other to see how many kilometres we could run, walk or cycle in a week. This kind of excitement should be more frequent for everyone.