By Kebaabetswe Keoagile

It started with the long flights and landing in Montreal reminded me of the time in January, 2017 when arriving in Dresden for the Centre for Postgraduate Studies on Environmental Management for Developing and Emerging countries (CIPSEM). Of course the excitement will always be there but coming in winter time was a different story. The cold, the snow all brought back the memories in Dresden and made me think of the “onion principle” as Joyce Kiruri from Kenya will put it.

The twenty first meeting of the Subsidiary body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 21) and the Tenth meeting of the Ad-hoc open ended working group on article 8j and related provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met from the 11thto the 16th December, 2017 in Montreal, Canada. The meetings provided the basis for negotiations for the 2018 Conference of Parties.

SBSTTA provides the Conference of the Parties(CoP) with timely advice relating to the implementation of the convention. It comprises government representatives competent in the relevant field of expertise and are mandated to provide assessments of the status of biodiversity (BD), provide assessments of the types of measures taken and responding to the questions that the CoP may put before them.

Items covered during the meeting were:

On the other hand, working group on article 8j is also open to all parties and, indigenous and local communities’ representatives which play a full and active role of its work. Issues of Traditional Knowledge are considered as cross cutting that is said to affect many aspects of BD. The working group has raised the profile of indigenous peoples and local communities’ issues and developed guidelines and tools on TK.

Items covered during the meeting were:

For more information and outcomes of the meetings please visit

All aimed at implementation of the Convention strategic plan…

Giving a statement on behalf of my country in support of the Africa position on agenda item, “Sustainable wildlife management: Guidance for achieving a more sustainable bushmeat sector” and saying, ‘Thank you madam chair…’ brought back the CIPSEM 40 memories especially the exercises we did at the Island of Vilm on CBD negotiations. Thanks to the facilitators I was able to use the knowledge to prepare for these meetings and impart it to the other stakeholders (delegates) from my country.

Another highlight was the reunion with Marle Patricia Aguilar Ponce from Honduras. It was a moment of craziness and happiness just seeing each other after the course. We met over lunch to catch up!



Farewell EM40!

“Time just flew by” was the statement included in the speeches given by the representatives of the 40th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing and Emerging Countries (EM40) at today’s award ceremony. And really, also for us, it seems like yesterday that we met the EM40 participants from Honduras, Vietnam, Colombia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Botswana, Kenya, Niger, Peru, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Sudan, Brazil, Ethiopia, Jamaica, and India at the airport. But even though, the one or other tear creates the impression of time having passed by maybe too fast and the moving speeches let us realize the sadness of goodbyes, they are also an impressive demonstration of how naturally people from different countries, with different religious backgrounds, and from different cultures can become friends or even more, become like a family and how a city which may have been entered with mixed feelings at first, can become a second home in the end.
Congratulations EM40 for all your professional and personal achievements during the last six months. We wish you luck, endurance, and success for your professional careers and for your efforts for a more sustainable future!


Photo: Harald Schluttig

Chemnitz – the city of modernity

“Stadt der Moderne” (City of Modernity) is the title that Saxony’s third largest city uses to describe itself. In terms of its energy concept, this rings true to us. In 2015, the municipality has received the European Energy Award in Gold. During our excursion today we got to meet some main actors contributing to this sucess: employees of the city administration as well as Dr. Schwenk of FASA AG. The company earns most of its money with noise cancelling infrastructure, but is also passionate about offering affordable buildings equipped with solarthermal heating.

Please see the image captions for details.

A story of science, policy and healthier trees – excursion to the Ore Mountains

During our excursion to the Altenberg Area of the Ore Mountains, the interlinkages of environmental issues becomes – once again – very clear. We have learned about the high concentrations of air pollutants such as Sulfur Dioxide in the area during the end of the 20th century to a large extend brought about by the burning of lignite rich in sulfur in the power plants of the German Democratic Republic as well as the CSSR and facilitated by the topographic conditions. Transboundary impacts of such unmitigated air pollution have been noticed to such an extend in many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems throughout Europe that led to the UN-ECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution in 1979. With that went the establishment of an international monitoring programme for the impacts of air pollution on forests. The long-term monitoring site close to Altenberg operated by the Saxon State Public Enterprise Sachsenforst is part of this network.

The high atmospheric inputs of sulfur still have an impact on soil chemistry and the chemical composition of the run-off from this area. Thanks to abatement of sulfur emissions during the 1990s, forests are recovering as we could see during a short hike to Mount Kahleberg. This shows that positive changes are possible. This confidence and determination is needed as issues such as NOx-emissions, Ozone concentrations, persistent organic pollutants, interdependencies with climate change mitigation and other challenges still require a lot of attention, as has been outlined in the latest air quality assessment report of the UN-ECE.

Thanks to Dr. Henning Andreae of Sachsenforst for sharing some of his insights with us.

Last resort – a visit to the soil cleaning facility in Hirschfeld

During an excursion to the soil treatment facility of the Bauer Resources GmbH we learned what can be done if prevention has failed and in-situ treatment of polluted soil is not an option – and at which cost.

See the image captions for details.

The treated soil can be used for construction, not for food production.

Excursion to the Ecological Station Neunzehnhain and Reservoir Management

by Yulia Mariska (EM40)

On 15th – 16th June 2017, the participants of the 40th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management had the opportunity to visit the Ecological Station Neunzehnhain and learn more about reservoir management.  Located about 80 km south-west of Dresden in the “Ore Mountains”. First day, the group transferred to dam Neunzehnhain II guided by the Dam Administration Saxony.  The area of the dam are not populated and surrounded by almost 80% of forests as drinking water protection. The main reason is to keep the good water quality because the dam’s primary purpose is for  drinking water supply of the nearby located city of Chemnitz with a storage capacity of about 3 million cubic meters.

The second day started with a lecture about freshwater organism and quality indicators by Ms. Beesk (TU Dresden); in this session, the participants were equipped with microscopes to see some of the micro-organisms in the water sample and then continued to have get some explanation about water quality indicators in the reservoir Neunzehnhain II. The next session was guided by Dr. Paul (TU Dresden), he explained about the water quality and quantity management in reservoirs and how it can be used as a bio-manipulation tool to manage fish stocks.

After having lunch the excursion proceeded to dam Saidebach guided again by Dr. Paul for another session about land use in the catchment area, water and sediment treatment, catchment protection and climate change issues. The dam Saidebach like the dam Neunzehnhain II also functions as a drinking water reservoir with a capacity of 22 million cubic meters.

Dresden Nexus Conference – at the science-policy interface

by Andrea Vera (Peru) & Fernanda Martinelli (Brazil)

During three days we had the opportunity to participate and be involved in the Dresden Nexus Conference (DNC). The conference was held at the Deutsches Hygiene Museum (a must see museum if you are in Dresden) from 17th to 19th May.

This biannual conference was focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Nexus Approach: Monitoring and Implementation. Major topics covered were ‘Wastewater Reuse in Nexus Perspective: Environmental, Economic and Societal Opportunities’, ‘Smart Green Cities: Adaptation and Urban Resilience’, ‘SDG Agenda: Achieving SDGs’, and ‘Resource Recovery and Reuse in Multifunctional Land-Use Systems’.

It was a great space for networking, discussion, lectures and sees the results from case studies around the world. DNC is a platform that brings all stakeholders and actors (researchers, implementers, decision makers) together implementing the Nexus Approach. But what does it mean to implement the ‘Nexus Approach’? This was the first question that some of us were wondering during the conference. First, this approach is focused on Water-Soil-Waste and that all natural resources are interconnected to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).  Amazing goal! But, it is a serious challenge as we look forward to reduce poverty and provide enough food and water for all. Second, this approach also aims to join scientist, implementers, decision-makers and donors to exchange experiences, discussions and close the gaps between actors. This was well addressed, but more involvement from the private sector is needed.  Finally, it seeks to improve governance and participation to implement the Nexus Approach outside the academic circle and intersect all efforts from individuals to governments.

One of the newest sections in the conference was the World Café. During 60 minutes, in a round-table, we dialogued about multifunctional land-use systems and resource management. Every person could choose on which table to participate according to their field of expertise or interest. An expert moderated the discussion and noted the main points of interest to be taken into account for the next conference. Questions like ‘What data is missing?’, ‘How can we monitor and what potentials indicators could we use?’, ‘Which stakeholders should be involved?’, ‘What are the next steps? Where are the information and knowledge gaps?’: among other were discussed and summarized into key points.

Some final remarks that we need to bear in mind: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Management and monitoring is important in every work, so we can see where we are and how are we achieving the goals; we must work together, build bridges between all actors and stakeholders, make connections between governments and financial sector. Let’s move from laboratories and start field implementation. As the Agenda 2030 says: ‘let’s ensure that no one is left behind’.

Photos by Anna Görner