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.

Course theory in a reality check

or

“How a role play by the International Academy for Nature Conservation (INA) helped coping with convention negotiations”

by Mr. Mamadou Welle – Senegal

Alumnus of the 39th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management

From 29 May 2017 to 2 June 2017 I had the opportunity to participate to the 53rd standing committee of the Ramsar Convention in Gland, Switzerland. More than 100 delegates hailing from 50 countries, representatives of Ramsar’s six International Organization Partners (IOPs) and several independent observers attended this event. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the convention was signed in 1971.

The work was organized around regional meetings, subgroup meetings and plenary sessions. A series of documents, compiled by the Secretary General of the Convention, served as the basis for exchanges between the delegations of the contacting parties, observers and representatives of the IOPs. Issues relating to the structuring of the convention, management procedures, action plans and strategies for sustainable management of wetlands were discussed in depth. Regional meetings gathered every morning delegates of each region of the world. This helped them harmonize their positions and discuss relevant issues specific to their region. Draft resolutions were proposed, discussed, validated or rejected during plenary. The principle of consensus has been the rule for making decisions.

As it was the first time I attended such international meeting, the acuity of the issues, the diversity of participants and their commitments in defending their views could have been daunting.  Luckily it was manageable for me to deal with all raised points and to be a fair but determined negotiator on behave of my home country, and other West African countries, which are represented by Senegal  in the Ramsar committee. Actually I did not have to start from scratch! I felt rather at ease because I could fall back to the tips that I had received during the role play about international convention negotiations in the International Academy for nature Conservation (INA) on Vilm Island during the 39th International Postgradudate Course on Environmental Management for Developing and Emerging Countries during my time at CIPSEM!

The 13th conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) will be held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates from 21 to 29 October 2018.  Let’s make an appointment there!

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

40 years of building bridges across nations

Authors: Adrian Lauer, Aliya Orozakunova, Natalia Jiménez

On 16 May, the UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB Centre for International Postgraduate Studies on Environmental Management (CIPSEM) celebrated its 40th anniversary at the Alte Mensa ballroom in Dresden. Together with partners UNEP, UNESCO, BMUB, UBA; CIPSEM Secretariat, current fellows, alumni, supporters, facilitators of the Program and other guests celebrated the success of environmental education. During these decades of steady work, this programme has trained specialists from 140 countries, coming from government, civil society, specialized consultancy, and academia, empowering them to become change makers.

The ceremony started with welcoming inspiring speeches made by Prof Dr. rer. nat. habil. Hans Georg Krauthäuser, Vice-Rector for Academic and International Affairs of TU Dresden, Ms Jame Webbe, Head of UNEP Environmental Education and Training, Dr Harry Lehmann, General Director of Division I “Environmental Planning and Sustainability Strategies” at the German Environment Agency (UBA) and Mr Uwe Gaul, State Secretary, Saxon State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts. Prof Krauthäuser emphasised the strong focus of TU Dresden on environmental research, as the work of ca. 25% of professors is related to environmental affairs. Ms Webbe mentioned the need for skilled professionals in the field, praising the practical and interdisciplinary approach of CIPSEM and the programme’s contribution to UNEP’s global training platform, while Dr Lehmann highlighted to role of CIPSEM in building professional capacities for specialists around the world in a context of evolving environmental institutions and frameworks and the urgency of preserving science as the prime source of knowledge for decision making in environment. Finally, Mr Gaul pointed out to the gender-balanced selection of fellows as an advantage for building a fair discipline and society.

After the first part, two CIPSEM alumni, who came to Dresden on the occasion of the anniversary, took the podium: Prof Dr Bert Kohlmann (Costa Rica/Mexico), participant of the 5th environmental management course (1981/1982) and Ms Rachel Boti-Douyoua (Côte d’Ivoire) participant of the 38th long course (2015). With exciting speeches, they shared their own experiences at CIPSEM, and the impact the programme continues to have on their professional life. They, like over 2200 participants who have been involved in CIPSEM’s trainings over 40 years, are nowadays agents of change in numerous disciplines around the world.

At the end of the ceremony, Prof. Dr. Rattan Lal, distinguished Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management Sequestration Center at the Ohio State University, gave a lively keynote speech in emphasizing the importance of environmental education and “building bridges across nations”. Supporting the CIPSEM approach he also highlighted that environmental education is not only giving information and raising knowledge, but also training and creating awareness, inspiring responsible attitudes, fostering sensitivity and imagination, providing practical learning by bringing nature indoors and the class outdoors, and, by all means, linking these aspects with ecological, economic, social and political issues. ​

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Photo: by Harald Schluttig

The uplifting, innovative music by Roger Tietke (saxophon) and Moritz Töpfer (piano) invited the audience to reflect on the importance of a humanist approach to environmental education, involving culture and art. Everything is connected.

The celebration was also a candid space to share. “Friendship”, “connections”, “international exchange”, “inspiration for changing the world”, “experience from Germany” were some the impacts of CIPSEM trainings named during an informal exchange held by CIPSEM alumni and current participants before the ceremony. They all agreed that this programme was the starting point for taking action and making the difference.

The Magic of forms – National Park “Sächsische Schweiz”

by Natalia Jiménez (Colombia)

On 15th may 2017, the participants of the 40th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Training Programme immersed themselves in a natural landscape of forest, history and magical forms of sandstone and basalt. Between caves with secret passages, rocky ridges and centennial trees, the participants learned how over millions of years this amazing landscape was sculpted by wind and water.

Judging from this picture, being inside the forest makes EM40 participants happy. (Photo: André Lindner)

The participants also visited the National Park Information Center in Bad Schandau where they experienced how with creativity, images, sounds, colors and shapes, it is possible to make the visitors discover and explore this unique landscape in a fun and exciting way.

Dancing and singing was the amazing way to teach the participants how quartz grains are kept together shaping the sandstone with a fantastic art that only nature can do.

It was inspiring to experience how exploring nature with different options (climbing, guided walks, excursions, workshops, educational programs, etc) is ideal for creating awareness in people. This is by combining knowledge and emotions, the way that people feel themselves as a fundamental part of nature and responsible for taking care of it.

 

“…The experience was breathtaking, and being there made us one with nature…”

Joyce Kiruri (Kenya)

 

“…Great hike and dark caves! Learning about sandstones in a fun way is the best approach for environmental education.  Learning by playing! Five stars to our amazing guide!…”

Andrea Vera (Perú)

 

“…It was great experience; landscape, professor, what we learned and how we learned. All was inspiring…” Ramshid Rashidpour (Iran)

Another knowledge-search excursion to the German Environment Agency (UBA)

by Ms. Kebaabetswe Keoagile (Botswana)

It all started with the admiration of the main building. One would have thought it’s a business building; it is a piece of architectural beauty indeed!

 

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Picture by Bendicto Kabiito, Uganda

That was on the 11 th and 12 th of May, 2017 when CIPSEM EM40 participants had an excursion to the German Environment Agency (UBA) in Dessau. The Agency is Germany’s central federal authority on environmental matters. According to their website and other websites, there have three main functions.

Its key statutory mandates are:

  • To provide scientific support to the Federal Government (e.g.. the Federal Ministries for Environment; Health; Research; Transport, Building and Urban Affairs);
  • Implementation of environmental laws (e.g. emissions trading, authorisation of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and plant protection agents)
  • Information of the public about environmental protection.
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Introduction to UBA (Photo by Andre Lindner)

 

Different topics were presented, graced questions and discussions from the participants. The agenda for sustainable development 2030 was of great importance to generate insights into topics such as Sustainable development, green economy, sustainable resource use, and resource efficiency. Presenters were insightful about the need for action regarding transitioning to green economy. Population growth, high economic growth in developing countries, increasing fluctuating energy resources prices were cited as reasons for action.

And with these actions they are benefits that can be derived and the presenter covered: business opportunities, job creation, less environmental change hence higher welfare and quality of life, less dependency on energy imports and less use of resources, to name a few.

In the discussions, green economy was being viewed an aspect of sustainable development.

It also emerged through the discussions that sustainable development is an overarching vision while green economy gives shape to sustainable development, however, it does not fully address social issues.

It was important for us to learn that Germany has sustainability strategies which include resource efficiency policy and national strategy for sustainable development which were updated in 2016 for alignment the Sustainable Development Goals.

As the day progressed, the Dr. Uwe Leprich, Head of Department under Climate Protection and Energy unit, welcomed us to the Agency and introduced the two alumni of the CIPSEM Programme: Ms Rachel Boti-Douayoua (a 2015 CIPSEM participant) and Prof. Dr. Bert Kohlmann (a 1981 participant). The two gave interesting presentations about their experiences during the course. The latter noted that environmental issues by that time included ecological change, soil pollution, ozone layer depletion and air pollution, as opposed to climate change. His valuable experiences included making friends who were resourceful for his subsequent collaborations and project work. His projects were more into what he studied during the course (renewable energy and bio monitoring) and currently embarking on renewable energy projects as part of the transition to green economy.

Ms Boti-Douayoua also gave insights into her current work of which she managed to integrate what she learnt from the course on carbon credits. This was evident that indeed the course reaches its objectives of skilling and enriching participants.

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Professor Dr Bert Kohlmann (CIPSEM Alumnus -1981, photo by Dr. André Lindner)
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Ms Rachel Boti-Douayoua (CIPSEM Alumna -2015, Photo by Dr. André Lindner)

The participants had a relaxed evening and informally continued discussions about the day’s events at a joint dinner at the NH-Hotel (courtesy of CIPSEM secretariat). Some participants had a night-walk within the city centre to appreciate its beauty thereafter. Thanks to CIPSEM invite!

Day 2 was the day to get the practical part of the issues previously identified, with aid of cases from Germany. The topics of the day ranged from climate change priorities, adaptation and institutionalisation, to waste electrical and electronic equipment management and the strategic and environmental impact assessments. Thanks to the presenters for the knowledge share with or imparted onto the participants on the above areas. The participants engaged the presenters through discussions.

At the end one will say it was still clear that the challenge is putting theory into action remains critical in many spheres. One example of such challenges was the comment from a participant on the amount of work done on the environmental issues especially climate change, the results of which are not yet realized.

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Ms Judith Voss-Stemping (presentation on international Climate Protection-Priorities and institutionalization in Germany, photo by Dr. Anna Görner).

Implementation! Implementation! Implementation!

The Dilemma of land use: Bringing Reality to the Classroom

By: Ahmed Said Sulaiman

Making decisions that affect people’s use of land is among the most anxious actions that any progressive society has to deal with. Some of the mainstream arguments claim that the economic needs of the country should always take the priority in determining land use, while others say that indigenous or traditional claims to land use have to be respected. Emphasizing humankind’s stewardship obligations, still others argue that where nature is threatened, the best use of land is excluding human intervention. Even though, the intensions of conservation might be industrious in protecting fauna and flora, its final consequences could also be destructive. For example, if the actions of protected areas impose misery on people especially those who are fully dependent on it for their survival, it is unlikely to succeed in the long run. Well!  What is the best option of using natural resources then? This question seems easy to ask than answered!

As part of unpacking this complexity associated with land use, Environmental Management Class (EM40) led by Dr. Eckhard Auch, performed a simulation game on May 3rd 2017. The role play was based on a case of conservation area located in India (Kaziranga National Park) which was threatened by human encroachment. The intension of the scene was to bring all relevant stakeholders and involved actors to a meeting and eventually make an agreement on issue at stake (eviction of local users). The scene brought reality on the ground to the classroom and provided a lively discussion, arguments and counterarguments among the opposing parties.

Jürgen Habermas, a German Sociologist was right when he said “only by knowing the partner’s real interests (best), a negotiation can achieve best compromises”.   I learned that land use is beyond the affiliation of certain actors. There are other stakeholders (private, civil society and NGOs etc.) who have a say and influence the decisions of every aspect. Hence, making compromises was one of the determinants of reaching success.

However, even with in this role play, the process of making compromise was not smooth either. It was quite challenging to reach a common ground even with in a small group of the same interest let alone confronting opposing parties.

On the other hand, moderation of such kind of meetings needed skillful tactics and attention to the details. For example, the facilitators’ understanding about the culture of the involved community or behavior of individuals is crucial while on the other hand systematically balancing the power of the actors in the discussion process is important factor for reaching a fair consensus.

Overall, being part of this exercise was a valuable brainstorming. It stirred my sense and brought my attention that land use management does not happen in a vacuum – it combines science and society. Though the process is complex per say, if well designed and managed, it can make a tangible progress and lead to a cumulative positive outcome or, in other words a win-win solution.

 

Ahmed Said Sulaiman is EM40 participant from Ethiopia