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.

 

CIPSEM alumna gives maiden lecture

On Wednesday, July 17th 2019, Dr. Adejoke Olukemi Akinyele had the honor to deliver the maiden lecture for the newly created Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria – the lecture titled “Achieving sustainable development through silviculture: Focus on tree domestication”.

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.

She works as a senior lecturer in the Department of Forest Production and Products at the newly created Faculty. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

 

42nd UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management – Closing

On Friday, July 12th 2019 the 42nd UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries came to an end with 21 fellows representing 21 countries, receiving their postgraduate diplomas, but having so much more in their minds and hearts (and probably also their suitcases) to carry back home – certainly, a cohort of new experts in environmental management, but also CIPSEM ambassadors was formed during this past 6 months in Dresden and Germany.

 

The fresh CIPSEM alumni were accompanied in their celebrations by friends, family, course facilitators, the CIPSEM team, representatives of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the German Environment Agency (UBA) and not least by the rector of Technische Universität Dresden (TUD), Prof. Dr. Hans Müller-Steinhagen. In his opening address he not only emphasized the general urgency to tackle environmental challenges for a global sustainable development, but also how these CIPSEM courses on environmental management fit into the Research Priority Area “Energy, Mobility and Environment” at TUD and furthermore towards the Internationalization Strategy of the university.

 

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.

DSC_0356

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.

 

… and what better occasion there is than to close here with the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything.

DSC_0388

 

 

A little bit about the Research Centers in Germany…

Energy from biomass?

Yes, it is possible!

On the morning Monday of May 20th, EM42 fellows headed to the central station of Dresden, bound for the beautiful city of Leipzig. After a short trip and a small break, at 1 pm they arrived at the “German Centre for Biomass Research (DBFZ)”.

During the visit to DBFZ, they learned about the different processes to produce energy from biomass; and after a short explanation about the organization with international colleagues from China, Spain, Canada, Brazil, and Italy and the vision of sustainable resource basis, smart bioenergy – innovations for a sustainable future, they proceeded to visit its installations and laboratories that are divided into five departments: biogas, refinery, hydrothermal carbonization, heating technologies, and wood combustion.

Additionally, they had the opportunity to meet some of the researchers of the institution, as they explained to them; DBFZ with approximately 250 employees researches how to generate energy from biomass resources. In this regard, DBFZ works in joint collaboration with public and private institutions around the world.

Something that 30 years ago seemed impossible, now is a reality thanks to institutions like DBFZ that bet on studies based on the applied researches that develop practical solutions to current problems related to the integrated bioenergy provision.

The second day in Leipzig at 09:30am, EM42 fellows arrived at the “Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)”, they were welcomed by Mr. Andreas Staak who introduced the visitors the UFZ installations, along the day some researchers explained in more detail the projects that UFZ is developing; as is the case of the “Center for Advanced Water Research (CAWR)” presented by Prof. Olaf Kolditz and Mr. Lars Bilke from the Visualization Laboratory; whom explained some projects developed for Asia (China and Jordan) related to water sustainability, at that time, the 3D animation developed by UFZ for the spatial planning was one of the most incredible experience that the fellows tried that day.

IMG-20190521-WA0034

After the lunch at UFZ canteen, Prof. Martin Volk presented the topic “Assessing and governing synergies between food production, biodiversity, and ecosystem services”; Additionally the Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology and the Department of Ecological Modelling presented some of the projects that UFZ is developing related to food-waste-energy sustainable environment; and impacts of the new policy instruments, technologies and change processes on pastoral land use as a social-ecological modeling approach.

Finally, the fellows had the opportunity to enjoy the game “NomaSed” developed by the Department of Ecological Modelling in order to create awareness to the stakeholders about the land use in agriculture activities. Of course, there were winners in this game!

5

Time was relative short those days, however, the fellows tried to spend time together with a big Vietnamese dinner in the beautiful city of Leipzig during their free time.

IMG-20190520-WA0045

See you soon beautiful Leipzig!

by Ms. Magaly Beltran (Bolivia) and Ms. Tam Thanh (Vietnam)

Human and Nature in Harmony

The term “Biosphere Reserve” (BR) has always fascinated us. Particularly because to an optimist of conservation and sustainable development, it is a realizable model striking a balance between fulfilling the requirements for nature conservation while meeting the needs of human. BR are the model region of sustainable development where the conservation and human development goes hand in hand, benefiting both. This excursion to the Upper Lusatian Biosphere Reserve (BR) epitomizes this idea. The Upper Lusatian heath and pond region between the Upper Lusatian plains in the south and the Upper Lusatian mining region in the north is a part of the Saxon lowland region with an altitude 80–180 m above sea level. The region has evolved over many centuries as a result of human use, with the first documented evidence of the building of fish ponds dating as far back as 1248.The region, with an area of about 30,102 ha was recognized as a BR in 1996. Every BR represents a mosaic of landscapes – in this case, it was primarily forests (50%), agriculture (40%) and ponds (8%)

1

The forests of the Upper Lusatian heath used to be mainly mixed forests of oak, pine, birch and hornbeam. In the Biosphere Reserve, we also still find them as pine and oak forests, which were once characteristic of the Upper Lusatian Heath, as berry bush and pine forests. The major pine forests are gradually being transformed into mixed forests suitable for the area. Management is now aiming at the development of wild forests. Along with the forests, the meadows and the ponds form important components of the mosaic. Meadows containing streams and rivers, fast-flowing and slow running water, fordable places and deep scour pools and steep and flat banks form ideal living conditions for many animals and plants in the BR. The flat ponds with their wild banks, silted areas and strips of reeds with their gradual transition to meadows and forests, provide a home for plants and animals which have long disappeared in other areas.

2

The governance and administration of the BR is guided by three objectives- a) use of natural resources in alignment with environmental protection, (b) target oriented research and development and (c) environmental education for tourists, visitors and the youth. Environmental education is at the heart of the BR philosophy and management. More than 700 events are organized each year for the public. Concepts of ecological, economic, social and cultural integration into planning sustainable development is the foundation of the message delivered. Each of these programs are customized to cater to different target groups.  We could see some kids attend a workshop near the pond landscape and being thrilled to be in this landscape. Seeing them rejoice being in the lap of nature is always a good reminder of how much man has to transform its practices to leave behind healthy ecosystems to secure their futures.

3

It was also interesting to note how the BR administration works closely with local farmers in promoting sustainable agriculture as well as promoting education on agriculture and farming. The local farmers in the region grow local varieties of crops which is supported by BR office (provision of seeds) and farmers in turn extend support on conserving birds and their habitat. Significant weightage is given to the re-introduction of crops that are local and representative to this area, for instance winter Rye, which is used both for the feed and food, has also the benefit of requiring less fertilizer and crop protection measures.

5

Around 80% of the local farmers are participating in the Saxony government are being supported with projects to eliminate non-environmental friendly agricultural practices. Farmers are incentivized with financial compensation to discourage the use of chemicals and pesticides. Similarly, partnerships of local tourism providers and farmhouse owners with the BR authorities was working successfully to reap benefits for the reserve. Witnessing these practices form important impressions that our group members hope to translate into action back home (with support of partners and authorities).

One of the most unforgettable moments of the excursion was undeniably the stop at the Eco-farm for lunch. The farm produced vegetables, meat, oils and seeds along with a range of other products were up for sale. Being in that farm and eating that locally grown food cooked with tones of love and compassion for nature, we felt a deeper sense of gratitude for just how much the earth has borne to cater to needs of humankind. It surely is time to give back.

4

by Urvana Menon (India) and Kamal Thapa (Nepal)

CIPSEM at the International Transport Forum

Having an exciting week in the beautiful Island of Vilm –BFN, CIPSEM (EM42) group was back to Dresden on 19th of May 2019. A bit tired after long travel and the expectation of the upcoming excursion to Leipzig was not too big at this point.However, then comes Sunday, a very good day to rest and get ready for travel to Leipzig arguably our second home in Germany. It was not so long when CIPSEM group arrived in Leipzig on Monday morning 20th of May 2019. The afternoon was a very intensive excursion to the German Biomass Research Center. Tuesday, the group convened for intensive classes at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research.

On the following three days from Wednesday 22nd to Friday 24th, the CIPSEM (EM42) group joined the International Transport Forum 2019 in Leipzig, Germany. The Annual Summit of the International Transport Forum is the premier global transport policy event started in 2008. More than 1000 participants from more than 70 countries including ministers from around the globe, heads of international organizations, civil society leaders, academia, business associations and the media come together to share policy perspectives and to discuss the future of transport. The summit addresses strategies, policies and challenges of all transport mods where participants can engage in intense discussion through variety of session formats. The 2019 ITF summit offered a rich of important programme from 22 to 24 of May. The policy discussions with ministers, networking opportunities, demonstrations, technical tours and an exciting exhibition were major parts of the program. Side events by ITF partners, evening receptions, cultural tours, cycling event and Gala dinner complemented the summit.

Each year, the international transport forum honors exceptional initiatives in the transport sector with its annual transport awards. The emphasis for the 2019 summit was transport connectivity for regional integration which explores how transport links work and how to improve connectivity. There were two awards-the transport achievement award and the young researcher of the year award.

1
Dr. Rafael Pereira wins the 2019 Young Researcher Award

Transport connectivity is a major contributor to economic development, social inclusion and increasing potential for growth by connecting people to opportunities and business markets. Improved connectivity also leads to better access to employment, education, health and public services. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development by United Nations (2015) “transforming our world” defines the goals to achieve sustainable development in three dimensions; economic, social and environmental-a better transport connectivity holds key for achieving these goals by acting as a catalyst for integration between communities, cities, regions and countries contributing to peace and stability. Connectivity is also vital for reducing trade costs and boosting economic growth. So far, the progress towards sustainable development is impressive however, there remain significant discrepancies in levels of progress between and within regions. Improved transport connectivity can help to reduce the gap and necessary actions need to be implemented to improve transport connectivity in all dimensions; physical, digital, modal, operational, individual, institutional. Therefore the ministers responsible for transport in the member countries of ITF assembled in Leipzig under presidency of Korea to pursue mutual understanding and frame response to challenges. Finally the minsters agreed on the following key issues:

  • Improving connectivity of transport infrastructure and operations
  • Enhancing development of sustainable transport
  • Improving governance to enhance connectivity

The 2020 ITF summit will be hosted by Ireland from 27 to 29 May in Leipzig with the theme of transport innovation for sustainable development. A final word from the CIPSEM participants: “Thank you Leipzig, and thank you Korea.”

2

3

by Nyein Nyein (Myanmar) and Fiseha Bekele Teshome (Ethiopia)

Self-sufficiency in Energy – the village of Feldheim

If a zombie apocalypse would happen and all the institutions eventually fail, there is only one place that I would go for a sanctuary. That is the village of Feldheim. Why? For obvious reason. The town is energy self-sufficient, running their own grid, and even supply energy to the national grid. Plus, they have a huge field to grow crops and a farm to raise livestock. Good enough to survive, right?

Now, back to reality.

The CIPSEM EM-42 participants recently had an excursion to the village of Feldheim, City of Treuenbrietzen, in the Brandenburg region. The village of 130 residents is about 60 kilometers southwest of Berlin. The villagers are proud to claim that they are the first energy-independent and the only energy self-sufficient community in Germany and a pioneer in the field of bio energy. This pride was reverberated by Feldheim’s official tour officer, Kathleen Thompson, who enthusiastically presented the facts and figures about the renewable energy undertaking of Feldheim in her powerpoint presentations at the Neue Energien Forum building.

IMG_5599

This pride and success was made possible by the visionary entrepreneur and now Managing Director of his own multi-million company Energiequelle GmbH, Dipl. -Ing. Michael Raschemann. When he was still an engineering student in 1993, Engr. Raschemann approached the Mayoress of Feldheim to erect some wind turbines. It gained the approval and support of the city council and in 1995, 4 initial wind turbines began to produce electricity. Today, 55 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 122.6 MW are sustaining more than enough the electricity need of Feldheim. It is for this reason that the local energy cooperative Feldheim Energie GmbH & Co. KG runned by the Feldheim village representatives, the municipality of Treuenbrietzen, local industry, and Energiequelle GmbH, supply its excess energy to the national grid, thereby helping Germany achieve energy sufficiency, too.

 

But self-sufficiency is clearly not enough for Feldheim as they have also built additional renewable energy sources from solar, biogas, and biomass in their portfolio. A total of 9,844 solar panels mounted on 284 trackers at the Solar Farm Selterhof produce a total power capacity of 2.25 MWp. A biogas plant with an installed electric power capacity of 526 kW and a biomass heating plant with installed capacities of 300 to 20,000 kW, on the other hand, are also installed within the village compound alongside the fancy painted battery storage building. This battery storage uses the lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 10 MW at an efficiency rate of >85% in storing the energy generated from the wind farm.

The success of Feldheim in achieving energy self-sufficiency is far from being perfect in the beginning, of course. Financial constraints proved to be an obstacle. But with the combined enabling policies of the Federal State of Brandenburg, the Federal Government of Germany, and the European Union, they have surpassed the trials and achieved what they have envisioned for their community… “a Feldheim that took a step into the future with courage, optimism, and readiness to engage in dialogue. A future not only for Feldheim, but for all. A future without nuclear power, coal, and oil. A future which is not at the cost of later generations”.

If you are curious about how much CO² reduction was made from all these renewable energies, Feldheim estimated a yearly reduction of around 208,000 tons of CO².

by Mr. Jun Piong (Philippines)