Wet and Wild Summer Cycling Tour in Dresden

by Waste Warrior Walim Mardassi (Tunisia) and
Sustainable SME Master Jun Piong (Philippines)😄

As the CIPSEM program nears the end, the participants also get crazier in excursions. At the end of this blog post, you will know what we did last summer.

We have shared in a previous blog entry how cool it is to cycle around Dresden ( Cycling and Picnic along the Elbe). Yet, the German municipalities are continuously developing platforms to encourage bicycling as a healthy lifestyle and as a mitigation measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On 14 June 2019, the CIPSEM administration, led by the cycling enthusiast and transport psychologist Dr. Angela Francke and assisted by Fabian Heidegger, organised a biking tour for the CIPSEM EM-42 participants to show how the City of Dresden established an enabling environment towards the integration of cycling in the transport and mobility system and how the residents participate in advancing this cause.

Angela objectively selected the cycling route for the critical experience and analysis of the participants on the infrastructural planning and development of the cycling road network and facilities. The group took off to its first stop, the Grosser Garten. There, the participants learned the importance of the park and its natural landscapes as a healthy place for cycling and recreation. The tall trees and the chirping birds on them, the long network of roads and its road signs, and the beautiful scenery of the Palais Grosser Garten castle all make up a good environment for cycling, especially for families.


The next stop was in the residential area at Comeniusstrasse,where Angela and Fabian demonstrated the safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists in street curves and crossroads by freeing the road sides from obstructions of parked cars. This was reinforced by implementing strict compliance to maximum speed of 30 kph for cars. From this stop, the group then went on to the Johannstadt Nord, an area where trams, buses, cars, and bicycles converged. Here, Angela shared how the cycling enthusiasts lobbied the safety measures for the cyclists through the installation of road signs, clearing the road sides from illegal parking, and improving the road markings.

The group then moved on to the next stops by cycling across the Kaethe-Kollwitz Ufer down to the Elbe Radweg. The Elbe Radweg (English: Elbe Cycling Route) is part of an international network of cycling routes all over Europe. It is integrated in the system of currently 37 river cycling routes in Germany and is claimed to be the most popular route for cyclists in the country. Here, Angela showed a cyclist counter installed in the cycling path to gather data on the number of cyclists passing the Radweg. Gathering the data will aid the City authorities improve accessibility for cyclists and the needed infrastructure support.

En route to the supposedly another stop, we made a stopover at the Faehrgarten Johannstadt which is situated directly on the side of the Elbe river. The original purpose was for a toilet break but the sight of locals drinking beer and frolicking on ice creams and refreshments enticed the participants to have a shot and join the locals in enjoying the refreshing sight. And to the surprise of everyone, especially Angela, the participants immersed with time that they forgot their fellows using the taxi waiting in the next stop. (Yes, non-bikers used the taxi in joining the cycling tour). Realising about this, we hurriedly finished our beers and refreshments, grabbed the bikes and cycled to the last stop that summarises the whole trip… the Altstadt Centre, in Post Platz.

There, the EM-42 participants went wet and wild as if they finished a Formula 1 race. But instead of the sparkling wine being popped, the participants frolicked like kids under the cold shower of the red square arc… a well-deserved finish after the grueling cycling under the warmth of summer.


“Appetizing and tempting, colourless, clear, cold, odourless, and perfectly fresh with regard to taste,” – Germany Drinking water quality standard, an expedition to the Ecological Station Neunzehnhain and Reservoir Management

By Joseph Kyalo Makau – EM42 Participant from Kenya

‘Is it safe? Can I drink the tap water? Is it treated? Have you ever been reluctant to drink tap water anywhere, be it in your home or a place of visit? Yes, of course, it is common that many people express doubts on the safety of drinking tap water. This is mainly because of the health and environmental risks associated with unsafe drinking water. Well, in Germany the safety standards of drinking water are very stringent and because of this, tap water is one of the safest and most controlled beverage/food products in Germany. As per the DIN 2000 Central drinking water supply guidelines, drinking water in Germany has to be appetising and tempting, colourless, clear, cold, odourless, with a perfectly fresh taste. But how possible is it to meet all these quality criteria? It is not so simple, especially when water quality is highly influenced by exogenous and mediating factors like drainage basin land use/ cover, soil factors, climate, physical and chemical properties and processes, biotic factors and their ecological interactions. In pursuit of understanding this intricate yet very vital issue of water supply management and monitoring the EM42 course participants embarked on a 2 days expedition to Neunzehnhain Ecological Station.
Thursday the 25th day of April 2019, time 10:30 AM, a bright sunny day in the colourful springtime, in front of the CIPSEM conference room, Dr Anna Görner, the managing course director, checks out on team’s readiness for the exciting adventure in the Ore Mountains. Packed lunch, check, warm clothing, check, mobile tour guide system, check. ‘I wish you an exciting excursion ahead, please note that there is limited network connectivity on the mountains and you need to make all your important communications before you leave Dresden,’ the Director advised as she saw us off to the bus. How can we survive without phone connectivity, there is no WIFI at all! The participants agonised. Nevertheless, the matter of phone signal never dampened the excitement of the team to explore the sites and scenes of Germany outside the conference rooms. Hop on the bus, bye Dresden and off we went.
With all energy and team cohesion up high in the bus, I couldn’t fail to appreciate how excursions brought out the beauty of diversity when over twenty nationalities with diverse backgrounds are converged by a common goal of achieving a sustainable environment for all in the present and future generations. We all cheered up through the 80 km journey south-west of Dresden as the bus’s incredible horsepower cruised us up the hilly terrain from the lowlands of Dresden at 140m above the sea level to the cold, forested mountainous range of Pockau-Lengefeld at over 420m. It was breathtaking to see large scale well-manicured yellow blooming rapeseed contour farms and green meadows punctuated by stripes of mono-culture beech and coniferous plantations grace the landscape with the bright blue sky horizons intercepted by the high rise rotating wind turbine rotors.

At the Neunzehnhain Ecological Station we were warmly welcomed by Dr Paul Lothar who gave us a brief on the establishment and goals of the ecological station. Back in 1959, the Zoological Institute of the University of Leipzig established the station as a Hydrobiological Laboratory that was later in 1968 transferred to the Department of Hydrobiology at the TU Dresden as a field office. Since 1991 the station has been an operating as an independent unit of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences of the TU Dresden, closely collaborating with the Institute of Hydrobiology and the Department of Hydrosciences. Due to the important role the ecological station plays in the management of water supply in Saxony, the working group limnology of dams of Saxon Academy of Sciences Leipzig has been housed in here since 1976. With over 4 decades of experience at the station since 1975, Dr Paul underscored the importance of long-term ecological monitoring of water quality as a function of the structure and land-use of the catchment area, internal mass transport and transformation processes mediated by sunlight, temperature and biological manipulation for sustainable management of low mountain streams and dams.
In the two days excursion, we visited the 3 million m3 Dam Neunzehnhain II under a guided tour by the Dam Authority of Free State of Saxony and also the 22.4 million m3 Saidenbach dam. These two dams are part of the 3 dam system that was built at the end of the 19th century to supply industrial and drinking water to the city of Chemnitz. It was fascinating to walk through the 30m deep inspection tunnel under the Neunzehnhain II mega architectural dam wall that has state of the art technology installed for monitoring the dam wall stability, earthquakes and tremors. This monitoring is so important because high water volume curved gravity dams like the Neunzehnhain II and Saidenbach reservoirs have inherent risks of breaking due to water pressure exerted on the walls. It was because of this risk that the Neunzehnhain II dam built in 1911-1914 was rehabilitated to have an additional concrete reinforcement layer and waterside sealing wall in 1996 to 2000. Dam siltation is another challenge for water reservoirs management that, if not well controlled, impairs water quality, reduces dam capacity – besides the high cost of desiltation and maintenance. To mitigate this, the two dams have check dams/pre-dams at the drainage channels that act as silt traps through sedimentation. However, siltation remains a major challenge for reservoirs whose drainage area has land uses that increase soil erosion such as agriculture in the case of Saidenbach reservoir.

The waters at the Neunzehnhain II appeared brownish in colour attributable to the dissolved organic compounds from the surrounding protected forest drainage basin. On the other hand, the Saidenbach water appeared green due to the presence of phytoplankton like the green algae, an indicator of nutrients overload from the 70% agriculture land use in the catchment. Comparison of these two reservoirs was a classic example of how catchment land use affects water quality and hence the need to protect the catchment as a pollution control measure.

At the Saidenbach dam, the participants were introduced to water monitoring technologies by Dr Paul. One of the key technologies we experienced was the use of BBE FluoroProbe for monitoring biological and biophysical parameters like quantities of phytoplankton (diatoms, blue and green algae), water depth and temperatures. Monitoring these parameters is critical because they are direct and indirect indicators of the state of the bio-physico-chemical characteristics of the water reservoir such as water thermo-stratification, mixing, nutrients flow, PH, dissolved oxygen and others.

As I pen off this post, I would like to acknowledge Dr Paul’s charisma on sharing with us so much knowledge and experience on the interface of quality water supply with reservoir management, catchment protection and technologies of water monitoring in the context of a changing environment, climate and water demands. Much thanks to the Dam Authority of Free State of Saxony, Tamara Karp of the CIPSEM for being an inspirational team leader during the expedition. Special thanks to each and every EM42 participant for making the excursion so lively that nobody remembered to worry about the phone signals. Did I almost forget about the mouthwatering dinner and lunch that CIPSEM was so kind to invite us, in particular, the dinner and after dinner fun-moments at the quaint, chateau-style Villa Wilisch hotel, an oasis of tranquillity in the secluded forest enclaves of Amtsberg municipality.

Photos by Joseph Makau (Kenya), Haili Zhou (China) and Hasmik Barseghyan (Armenia)

Is measuring sustainability in tourism possible?

This is the key question that the participants of the Conference on “Measuring Sustainability in Tourism: Opportunities and Limitations” on 2-3 April 2019 in Berlin, Germany tried to answer by delving on the possible criteria, scales, and indicators leading to the quantification of tourism’s sustainability. And the result was for me surprising.


Tourism stakeholders across Europe, ranging from tour operators to country tourism representatives, exchanged experiences and researches on assuring sustainability in tourism destinations. Sustainable development experts and tourism practitioners were also invited to speak on topics such as International Examples of Data Collection to Data Usage, Scales of Sustainability Data Collection, Usage of Indices for Destination Management and Certification Processes, and others. To my surprise, as perhaps the only Asian participant in the crowd with high expectation from his European counterparts, everyone in the conference realised that it is rather not easy to measure sustainability in tourism. Dr Anselm Mattes of the economics consultancy firm DIW ECON based in Berlin, Germany explicitly admitted that no country is far ahead from the others when it comes to quantifying sustainability in tourism. This is because the direction is not clear and no convincing approaches had been done so far. The challenges in data collection, management, and storage also add up to the complexities.


One would assume (perhaps the same as I did) that because Europeans are in some ways advanced when it comes to development and planning, they are also ahead in diagnosing problems and providing solutions. This is not true in the case of measuring tourism sustainability, as the conference has revealed. Rather than being disappointed for not taking away concrete measurement strategies, I was glad that the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the German Environment Agency together with the United Nations World Tourism Organization have this kind of platform where stakeholders from the European community discuss how to make tourism and its activities sustainable. Because if we want to achieve a goal, something has to start somewhere. And the conference is an excellent building block.


Participating in the conference was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn the European perspective of sustainable tourism. The tools I learned and will share with our tourism partners in the southern island region of Mindanao in the Philippines are already a handful. Thanks to CIPSEM for facilitating my participation in this conference while my EM42 course colleagues explored other fields of environmental management in Berlin. And thanks to Büro für Tourismus- und Erholungsplanung for the administrative assistance.



Author: Ireneo S. Piong, Jr. (Mindanao Development Authority – Area Management Office for Northeastern Mindanao, Philippines, EM42 participant)

Photos: BTE (Büro für Tourismus- und Erholungsplanung)

The complexity around resource use rights: A moderated role-play on co-management of Natma Taung National Park, Myanmar


Ministry of Environment: “The community will not be allowed to cultivate on this land as they no legal rights to the land and their agricultural activities are also treacherous to the protection of the national park area. This is…”
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development: “The local people have inherited the land over years now and have survived basically on agricultural sustenance without….”
Ministry of Environment: “Moderator! Moderator! Do your job and control the Ministry of Agriculture. We are the group allowed to talk at this moment, and we are not done with what we have to say….”
Moderator: “Please! Please! Please, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development can you allow them to finish their statement. You will have the time to put up your sentiments as well. Thank you for understanding…”

Are you experiencing the intense atmosphere already? Yes, this is what always happens when stakeholders of different interest sit at the table to find a consensus.
The conflicting interests around land use have always made land management decisions and actions very difficult. Land and the natural resources associated with it is a fundamental necessity of every human society. However, there are contradicting views of whether land should be preserved for other purposes aside from direct human usage. Some believe the national economic benefits from the land should always take precedence while others believe the inhabitants of the land should always have their rights of usage and access respected. Adding up to this controversy are the group that fights for natural land conservation. This group seeks to remove humans from lands with high fauna and flora diversity especially when they perceive natural conditions on such land area is threatened through bad humankind stewardship from the local indigenes. Can this even be an option in this increasingly populated world with this limited land resource? Well, this leads to the question of which of these interest is best and should be adopted. Already getting confused about which interest to go for? Yes, this question has never been easy to answer!

As professionals with day-to-day experience of conflict around land as a limited resource and it’s usage, the Environmental Management Class (EM 42) of 19 participants led by Dr Eckhard Auch and Mr Pyi Soe Aung engaged in a moderated role play on the 9th day of April 2019. The moderated role play was based on the co-management of the Natma Taung National Park in the southern Chun state of Myanmar with a land area of 72,300 ha. The National Park is seen to be vulnerable to land use conflicts by persistent indigenes encroachment for shifting cultivation, settlement, illegal logging and other unsustainable practices such as hunting and the extraction of other non-timber forest products. The indigenous community degrading this national park quality is seen to have limited livelihood options hence high forest dependency. On the part of park administration, there are insufficient staff, budget and low capacity building which inhibits good management of the national park. The moderated role play was set to bring this complex environmental reality to the classroom and has demonstrated how a tailor-made solution can be achieved by objective negotiations and discussions involving all key stakeholders.

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At this point, we, the stakeholders could only think of our firm positions on our various roles and were not ready to compromise. As stakeholders of conflicting interest around the table, we had the task to find a consensus on the best management strategies that encapsulates both the conservation of the national park and development for the local indigenes as a possible solution to reduce the people-park conflicts. Among the different stakeholders were the Ministry of Environment, local communities, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Regional Government, a private company for tourism, wildlife conservation NGOs and civil society organisations for human rights. Are you trying to guess each stakeholder’s stance? Yes, your guess is right! The positions on the matter varied between the strong views from conservation of parklands (hence vacate the indigenes) and the use of parklands for local development. In addition, there are stakeholders with dual interests. Can you already feel the negotiating intensity from stakeholders with such opposing views around one table trying to find a compromise on a subject?

WhatsApp Image 2019-04-24 at 09.18.40


After a long day of many arguments and counterarguments and bargaining positions around the table, a good lunch and few coffee breaks (a critical period for stakeholders to win over other stakeholders), the representatives came to a compromise on the subject matter. What solution, do you think, is possible? The Ministry of Environment proposed the following compromise to the other stakeholders:
The proposed solution was for local communities to stay in a clearly delineated land area in the National Park, undertake eco-farming practices and acquire additional governmental support for infrastructural development. This proposed solution seeks for sustainability by providing capacity building training to establish alternative sources of livelihood aside agriculture.
Stakeholders realised that this could only be achieved through co-management of the National Park land area. This, I believe, brought to light that each stakeholder matters. Irrespective of how small they may seem, their little concerns should always be included as we could only get to an agreed solution when views from small organisations like conservation NGOs, civil society organisations, among others, were duly appreciated. Also, even in this roleplay, the development of co-management strategies of a resource could have continued over a long period without the intervention of an unbiased moderator. The moderator paid critical attention to the very specific opinions of every stakeholder and carefully managed the negotiations with strategic planning so that success could be achieved on amicable grounds.

The moderated role play on co-management on the Natma Taung National Park, in general, was very educative as it allowed us to present thoughtful ideas that captured both the government and local peoples as well as all other stakeholders’ needs. This informed us pretty well that in complex situations like land management, it is essential to include the societal (indigenous) and scientific knowledge to reach an agreement for co-management that creates a win for.

I cannot stop writing without showing gratitude to Dr Eckhard Auch, and Mr Pyi Soe Aung for giving us this insightful experience on complex environmental issues and my colleagues from CIPSEM EM-42 for the good roles played in making this experience worth the while. To the CIPSEM team, I say thank you for including such a course on moderated role plays.

Text by Daniel Gyamfi Opoku, participant of EM42 from Ghana

The 75th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Short Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries – Sustainable Cities is officially done!

On Friday, November 2nd, twenty participants of the Sustainable Cities course – including managers and decision-makers of 19 different countries – gathered together one last time at the Closing Ceremony of the 75th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Short Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries – Sustainable Cities.
During their stay in Germany, participants have gained state-of-the-art expertise as well as environmental communication and mediation skills to be able to contribute to the sustainable development and management of urban communities in their respective countries.
The ceremony ended the 1-month course with words of encouragement and appreciation from Anna Görner (CIPSEM Course Director), Clemens Helbach (BMU representative), and Prof. Bernhard Müller (Executive Director of the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development). Also, student representatives from Sudan and Brazil shared some final thoughts on the course, their whole experience during their stay in Germany, as well as some lessons to take back home. A refined selection of classical music, performed by a quartet of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, delighted the participants.
The CIPSEM team wishes to congratulate once again all participants on their successful participation and for all the hard work and positive thinking! We hope you have arrived back home safely and we look forward to keeping in touch with all of you.
“From now on, we are all responsible to give back what we got, by changing our reality, by exchanging knowledge, by leading initiatives, by keeping networking with each other and with our host institution here in Germany, and by being the change we aspired to see. […]”

– Ms Wala Bashari, Sudan
“Scientists say that we are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are made of stories (quoting Eduardo Galeano) […] So, bear this in mind and let us go back to our home countries to be authors and writers of the social changes we all seek.”

– Mr Artur Monteiro, Brazil


Text and photos by Mariana Vidal

Alumni portraits – Mr Ganga Datta Nepal

Recently, 2012 alumnus Ganga Datta Nepal visited the CIPSEM team during a research stay in Germany and shared his story.

Alumnus Ganga Datta Nepal (right) during a visit to CIPSEM in June 2018

Ganga Datta Nepal is working with Government of Nepal on issues related to Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and can draw on more than 20 years of experience in the WASH sector with donors, I/NGOs including bilateral and multilateral programs. The donor-supported project focuses on water quality and includes aspects such as
– water safety plans,
– climate resilient water safety plans and climate-resilient WASH,
– as well as total sanitation.

As a team member, Mr Ganga Datta Nepal was involved in the formulation of a national level guideline, a handbook and training materials. He is active to develop the capacity of operators, engineers and managers and also to support the implementation of water safety plans in rural, peri-urban and small towns of Nepal to ensure water quality and hygienic sanitation.

He summarises his experience:
“I attended the short course in September 2012 on “Integrated water resource management and climate change adaptation” with CIPSEM. It has given me the way up to start different options to implement climate change perspective in Nepal. We have now climate resilient water safety plan and climate resilient WASH intervention. Also, I will soon complete my PhD research on WASH and climate change. I must say, the training played an important role in starting the climate change business in both my professional career and ongoing PhD, too.

During the course, we were 22 persons from 22 different countries of the world. Most of us are still in contact using social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. We also have a sharing mechanism country perspective. I can say our relationship built by CIPSEM is excellent for connection as well as expertise for sharing. Personally, I did Masters Degree under the DAAD fellowship and learnt the German language till DSH. It also made it easier to make connection around Germany to share our problems and to get to some kinds of solution. ”

Mr Ganga Datta Nepal is now doing a small research on wastewater treatment at the level of communities, which can hopefully be replicated later.

He wrote “For me, the CIPSEM course was important as I could use the knowledge in capacity development from a different perspective. It is helpful that problems around the world are similar, so we have to find the solution to every problem based on our perspectives. Personally, as I am a WASH expert, I have challenges on sustainability aspects of constructed water supply projects, maintaining and ensuring the water quality and different solutions for the sanitation, i.e. sustainable sanitation, waste water treatment etc. It is always essential to have capacity development from CIPSEM, and it is good to know who did what course in CIPSEM and how much the training content has been used taking into account the country perspective. ”

Mr Ganga Datta Nepal suggested CIPSEM could recruit the help of alumni experts for the selection of training participants who can implement their new insights, taking local conditions into account. We appreciate this suggestion and always appreciate when CIPSEM alumni recommend qualified colleagues.

Group dynamics

Always adapting and improving our course programme, we had the first session on group dynamics today. Sustainable development cannot be achieved by only a few individuals, after all. Issues we have addressed include

  • How to work in teams effectively while benefitting from everybody active participation,
  • how to build sustainable (working) relationships,
  • how to deal with a multitude of goals and
  • pitfalls in communication.



Here are a few useful models for some background knowledge:


The very important other event taking place in the CIPSEM-world today is the marriage of Trupti and Carlos. Coming from India and Bolivia, they got to know each other during the 65th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology in 2015. Today, they have married in Copenhagen. We send our best wishes and are very happy with and for you!

This goes to show that love and determination can get us a long way – in everything.

Thank you for the pictures, Angela!

New year, new group

Today, we could welcome the participants of the 41st UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries. From the first impression, we can be glad to work with a group of dedicated individuals on the manifold aspects of environmentally sustainable development during the next six months. We will keep you updated!


Here are some impressions from the opening ceremony (pictures by Harald Schluttig).

Exploring resource efficiency in Dessau

The participants of the 73rd UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Resource Efficiency – Cleaner Production and Waste Management have received a warm welcome at the German Environment Agency in Dessau… as well as lots of input with regard to the topic of our training programme. Please see the image caption for details.