The recently concluded UN Climate Action Summit 2019 and UN Youth Climate Summit in New York were proof that youth are increasingly becoming a catalyst to progressing climate change action. The Youth Summit which was the first ever of its kind provided an opportunity for young leaders who are spearheading climate action in their respective countries to showcase creative solutions contributing towards climate action at the United Nations. I was privileged to participate at the UN Youth Summit as part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Youth Delegation, representing the youth, my initiative TLC4Environment, my country Kenya, the MAB programme and other institutions that have propelled me towards this commitment such as the Centre for International Postgraduate Studies of Environmental Management (CIPSEM) and the Youth Encounter on Sustainability (YES).
Alongside the MAB delegates, youth from various parts of the globe thronged the streets of New York and other towns in several countries on 20th September 2019 for the #GlobalClimateStrike in support of the urgent climate action call to world leaders. In New York the strike was led by Greta Thunberg; who also went ahead to address the youth and the Secretary-General of the United Nations during the opening of the Youth Summit the following day, including giving a worldwide impactful but emotional speech condemning world leaders for failing to address climate change and for stealing the youth’s dreams and childhood.
Attending the Summit positioned me on the global stage for a historic moment which allowed me to give my voice and discuss efforts in addressing climate change including an opportunity to actively engage and contribute to further climate action. The Summit also fostered youth ownership of the dire need to #ActNow in order to secure their future as cities all over the world realize they are facing increased impacts from climate-related disasters. Notably, as a MAB delegate, it is important to highlight the importance of nature-based solutions in addressing the climate crises. Nature Based Solutions jointly address not only climate change but also biodiversity loss impacts and therefore their implementation both within and outside of protected areas is crucial as a holistic transformational action. In our participation, we ensured to give our voices rooted in the reality of the role of biosphere reserves in climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience, such as implementing widespread ecosystem restoration and enhancing resilience of nature’s benefits to people. Also, we actively participated in the session on the role of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) towards combating climate change and the importance of education as an effective tool in addressing climate change. Overall, I enjoyed the Summit and found it of value especially in current and future plans in addressing climate change.
Dr. Adejoke Olukemi Akinyele presenting the maiden lecture.
Dr. Adejoke Olukemi Akinyele was a participant in the 60th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Short Course on Environmental Management for Developing and Emerging Countries – Climate Change Adaptation: The Soil-Water Nexus (SC-60), which took place from October 9th to November 8th 2013 in Dresden, Germany.
Dr. Adejoke Olukemi Akinyele at a role play on climate change adaptation during the SC-60 course in 2013.
Prof. Dr. Hans Müller-Steinhagen, Rector of TU Dresden
The potential impact CIPSEM courses can have was highlighted in a video message by Mr. Erik Grigoryan, Minister for the Environment in Armenia and CIPSEM alumnus (30th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries in 2007). He congratulated his follow-up peers and encouraged them to implement the gained knowledge confidently.
This years “Best Final Paper Awards” for this course were given to:
Ms. Oleksandra Lohunova (Ukraine), for “Land use planning aspects regarding tailings management facilities safety”
Ms. Urvana Menon (India), for “Towards effective conservation of transboundary ecosystems – the case of Indo-Bhutan conservation region”
Mr. Marcio Alvarenga Junior (Brazil), for “Payment for ecosystem services: an alternative for the Brazilian Amazon”
Additionally, warm words were also provided by representatives of the course itself. Hence, Ms. Saba Raffay (Pakistan) and Mr. Ireneo Jr. Silverio Piong (Philippines) summarized the time at CIPSEM in general, but each also with a very personal and also funny note respectively.
I joined the 71st International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services (SC71) as a coordinator of conservation projects at a local NGO in Azerbaijan – IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action). I managed projects on the Caucasian leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica), European bison (Bison bonasus), as well as anadromous fish species.
The course helped me broaden my network, I got to know a number of young conservationists from around the world, each very influential in their countries or regions. It helped me share my skills and more importantly, learn from their experiences in their countries, as well as field realities. Additionally, I was happy to find out about alternative and new conservation strategies that others have implemented, which helped them to eliminate or reduce problems in their countries/regions. Learning from experienced speakers with different backgrounds helped me understand what a human being is capable of doing, which affected my view of the world around me and I returned home with even higher ambitions. My participation in the course helped me develop professionally towards my goal of becoming a leader in the field of conservation in my home country.
In August 2018, I was proud to join the SILVIS Lab as a Doctoral Research Assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US. I am currently working on a project funded by NASA – studying land cover and land use changes that have happened in the Caucasus region over the last half century. I am using remote sensing to evaluate how land use change has affected habitats and distribution of wild mammal species in Azerbaijan. You can now contact me through: firstname.lastname@example.org
As the late former US Vice President and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey said, “Never give in and never give up,” I was challenged and at the same time motivated when I learned about this prestigious Fulbright fellowship program. Likewise, I can still recall how motivated I was then in 2016 when I first learned about the UNEP/UNESCO/BMU-sponsored professional development program at the Centre for International Postgraduate Studies in Environmental Management (CIPSEM) at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. My CIPSEM success story in 2016 including the unwavering support I received from Dr. Anna Görner, Dr. André Lindner and team was the stepping stone on which this Fulbright-Humphrey Fellowship success was built from.
The Fulbright-Humphrey exchange program was a great opportunity for me to develop my professional skills and experience in the USA. Following the fellowship application announcement by the Fulbright Commission in Harare, I immediately applied. I went through the competitive and rigorous in-country interviews, TOEFL exams and the candidate review process, and after waiting for close to a year I was selected. And the rest is history.
Like the CIPSEM Fellowship Program, the Humphrey Fellowship Program is well-planned and organized, and every effort is made to make each of the Fellows feel special from day one. The pre-departure orientation, welcome meeting at the airport, and on-campus orientation with the Humphrey Program staff and Friendship Partners helped us settle down and acclimate to our new “home” in Ithaca. The numerous field and recreational visits and dinner parties we attended are a true testimony of the hospitality extended to us by our US hosts. One of my goals prior to my departure was to learn about and experience American culture and I am happy to say that I am already immersed in it. I am amazed by how friendly the people are, with a rich cultural diversity, exemplified with some of the best business and cuisine cultures on the planet. I am much impressed with how such rich cultural diversity has given rise to the convergence of ideas and innovations that have continued to drive American society for many years.
Being a professional development program, the Humphrey Program gives Fellows the opportunity to build their program plans and hone their leadership skills through a series of seminars, academic courses, professional visits and volunteer activities. Like the CIPSEM experience, we have acquired practical skills that benefit us as professionals, helping us to engage with communities and people back home. A famous English proverb says, “make hay while the sun shines,” and as Humphrey Fellows we are privileged to have this great opportunity to develop our leadership and job skills for the benefit of our home governments and beneficiary communities. Such is an opportunity that every fellow should be proud of – for me, it is the true honor of being a Humphrey Fellow.
What comes to your mind when you think of places with exceptional beauty, outstanding natural and cultural heritage values? Wonders of the World! Or maybe a UNESCO World Heritage Site! There is a place (the one & only) which has multiple recognition under international designations of UNESCO and Ramsar Convention for Wetlands, and also a Wonder of World.
This outstanding place is Jeji Island, a part of South Korea with an area of 1,849 km2. The island achieved the triple crown of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve (2002), World Natural Heritage (2007) and Global Geopark (2010), and dotted with various Ramsar wetlands. Also, the island has numerous volcanic formations representing unique biogeography and its history.
Fortunately, I got an opportunity to visit the island and participate in a workshop ‘Fostering Global Citizenship for Sustainable Heritage Conservation’ jointly organised by UNITAR CIFAL Jeju and UNESCO APCEIU in October, 2018. The workshop apprised the participants with the importance of engaging local communities as well as global citizens in conservation of heritage sites, concepts of sustainable tourism at World Heritage Sites, and UNITAR-Developed City-Share Methodology. The USP of the workshop was individual presentation of participants from Asia-Pacific countries including Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Cook Islands, Timor-Leste and Philippines. I presented on ‘Landscape Governance Approach and UNESCO World Heritage to address multi-functionality and diversity of Kailash Sacred Landscape’. Also as a cherry on the cake, the organizers planned a day trip to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, Geomun Oreum and Seogwipo Olle Market, besides class-room sessions. I will always be grateful to the organizers J for this fun-filled trip and excellent workshop.
Sharing experiences, chit-chat on dining table and visiting the magnificent landscapes of Jeju island are definitely the moments to cherish and learning to share.
On July 12th 2018 another 21 fellows from 21 countries were awarded with the Diploma in Environmental Management after spending 6 months at CIPSEM and now return home and will continue to work towards a more sustainable management of our natural surroundings we all depend on.
Who are those fresh alumni and what do they think about CIPSEM:
During the ceremony four “Best-Final-Paper-Awards” were given to:
Ms. Alexandra Aguiar Pedro (Brazil), for
“Urban community gardening as a strategy for avoiding the expansion of informal settlements over vacant land and making the informal surroundings greener“
Ms. Vika Ekalestari (Indonesia), for
“Optimization of facultative aerated lagoon system: Strategy in complying with the newly enacted wastewater effluent standard in Indonesia“
Mr. Ramoudane Orou Sannou (Benin), for
“Pastoral communities and participatory forest management in Benin: A case study from the Three Rivers Forest, Borgou Region“
Mr. Eduardo Francisco Esteves Vélez (Ecuador), for
“Rehabilitation of mined land by using compost“