The successful realization in an international format of the first competition for students "Karst - the last "white spot” on the planet Earth”, planned in Bulgaria in August 2019, will hopefully help to develop and establish it as an original form of a new international competition. Given the widespread distribution of karst in the world, the up-to-date nature of problems related to the use of karst resources and the sustainable development of karst territories, strategically the competition can grow into the International Karst Olympiad (IKO).
The preparation for participation in this competition changes the stereotype generated by the traditional way of teaching. Through karst the accent of learning shifts sharply, and the real world in which we live begins to be perceived as a cyclical one, built up by systems in which man and his society are directly involved. People are an integral part of the natural karst system in which they live, so they are obliged to comply with its development laws. Through the competition, the students as a prospective citizens learn to draw conclusions about the effective use of karst resources. The deeper they learn the essence of karst systems, the more effectively will be able to analyze and assess the real and potential transformations in the globally changing modern world.
The competition will also be an important step towards a change in the existing conceptual model of teaching. This brings to a shift from studying individual science-based disciplines traditionally taught at school, through Earth Sciences (current but still on the brink of the educational systems) to Earth Systems Science. The need for development of the Earth Systems Science and its implementation in education at all levels is becoming more and more tangible, especially on the background of the global changes and problems faced by humanity. Karst geosystems with their pronounced orderliness prove to be some of the "most visible" and most promising in teaching about Earth systems. An important role in this aspect can play the active dissemination and implementation of innovative education for/through karst. The experimental results from the implementation of the ProKARSTerra-Edu strategy support this claim.
This makes more relevant the realization of another original Bulgarian initiative - to announce the International Year of Karst. It has been proposed by the Experimental Laboratory of Karstology in 2013, and in 2015 it is also supported by the participants in the ProKARSTerra`2015 International Scientific and Practical Forum. For its realization, cooperation can and should be expected from world-renowned organizations such as UNESCO and the International Unions of Speleology and Geography (UIS, IGU).