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!

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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.

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!

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