Experience, Participation & Action: UN Youth Summit 2019

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.

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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.

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Ms. Louisa Chinyavu Mwenda, Kenya, SC68 CIPSEM Alumna

Biodiversity experts released into the “wild”

After becoming a force to reckon with regarding the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of essential ecosystem services for sustainable development, 21 experts finished the “77th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services” and are returning to their respective workplaces to make a difference!

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Inside CIPSEM – a look behind the scenes …

… of the ongoing 77th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services

Well, the course already started August 29th and a lot happened inside and outside the classroom. Here are some insights …

by Ms. Moselantja Rahlao, Lesotho:

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Hello I am Moselantja Rahlao and I work for the Department of Range Resources Management, Ministry of Forestry and Soil Conservation, Lesotho. Welcome to the Kingdom in the Sky in Germany. Lesotho is a tiny country enclaved by another in Southern Africa.

It takes courage and passion to write application essays for the 77th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International short course on Ecosystem management- Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services. Biophysical assessments are energy demanding. I do that on horseback, yes I am a rider. During data collection, I find myself staying uncomfortably in poky shelters of Lesotho. However, streams of passion to learn and be exposed never run dry. Usually after a completion of a hectic day, one wants only a good bath, food and sleep or entertainment at least. When everyone else prioritized the aforementioned and took a well-deserved break, I chose to sacrifice and compromise to achieve. However, my inquisitive nature coupled with thirst for knowledge sets me apart and makes me competent. I thrived because I dreamed, planned and acted “If you want to live your dreams, deny yourself any type of excuse”. I always apply effort and energy in things that I believe in for my growth. Then I work to proof myself to myself not anyone.

It was a heap of applications received (off course I knew this on arrival at CIPSEM) with very slim chances of being selected. This is a challenge of survival of the fittest measured by how logical one is, relevant content matters and what CIPSEM decides. Once this phase is passed, one can celebrate yippee. It was a moment of excitement and boosted confidence.

Logistically ready and hip-hip hooray! I landed in Dresden. The first day was tiresome after about 20hours flight (including layovers). A brief orientation done blah-blah-blah… and my heart began to palpitate faster. Next day, as the sun rose, I smiled and patted myself as I whispered “well done you are finally here”. Now ready to meet my fellow participants and the CIPSEM team. I take pride in my achievement to represent the Mountain Kingdom in Germany and interact with international fellows on the short course. It is exactly twenty (20) countries represented, namely: Indonesia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Mexico, Vietnam, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Ghana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Haiti, Argentina, Brazil, Bhutan, El Salvador, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Armenia and of course Lesotho. Wow! What a diversity of culture, experience and knowledge.

Now anxiety and enthusiasm knocks daily to learn, network, exchange knowledge through participation throughout the course. We are here, stood out to be counted. Thinking individually but together towards conservation of biological diversity for enhancement of human wellbeing. The program runs from lecture hall with various experts to field excursion to get in depth knowledge. It is impossible to walk in nature and be in a bad mood. My best highlight was the stay on Isle of Vilm. The simulation on CBD-COP negotiation was eye opening to all participants. It went from just a practice to real emotional involvement, very defensive and argumentative. It takes the trophy. It was also a pleasure to celebrate my birthday at Baltic Sea Island. Surely, the course objectives will be accomplished by end of September, 2019. Yes, the course will end but never the memories with a good company. Never! We will go back to our countries and apply the knowledge, skills and experience gained. Lastly, “in a changing environment one either adapts, moves or die”. What an honor to be swimming in this pool of knowledge. A well-organized course and great gratitude to the sponsors. It would not be possible without them. Salute!

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Nature Talks – Experiencing the International “Nature” of Negotiations

by Ms. Fitria Rinawati, Indonesia et.al.:

“You cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable” – John F. Kennedy

One among many highlights of the CIPSEM 77th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services is how we can experience such negotiations related to biodiversity conservation in international events. This time we had the opportunity to do a negotiation simulation “CBD-COP decision on biofuels”. What a topic! It is so current that most countries are paying attention to it. Including small – fragile – island countries which are not necessarily able to produce it but might be impacted from it.
The simulation was set to get an agreement of the drafted decision text. Participants were grouped as delegations into 6 countries that have the right to vote: Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, European Union, Ethiopia and Tuvalu, and 2 observers consisting in the United States and Greenpeace. One can imagine the dynamic of such a simulation when biofuels talk is involving the main producer countries like Indonesia and Brazil, the opposer of biofuels production – Saudi Arabia (main fossil fuels producer) and free riders such as the United States and Tuvalu – a very-very small island country that might face sinking due to climate change as a result of biofuels production practices.
Negotiation skills, wording the talks, emotional statements, creative compromises, building up pressure…were among the things we practiced and learned. Another main thing we learned was that every country has its interests and the delegations try to defend them – as it is well said in JFK above quote.
Further, we watched the movie “Guardians of the Earth”, a movie on UNFCCC – COP21 (Paris Agreement) which pictured clearly the above described negotiation processes. An interesting point, raised from a Bahrain young woman negotiator in the movie, was that all the international nature talks and negotiations were not about nature but but on economic interests of each country. Above all, we understand the great responsibility of the delegates to defend their country’s interests as well as the chairman – the president – the secretariat to come to such consensus and agreements. Last but not least, the importance of NGOs and other parties that influence these talks is also something that we can’t diminish.
I believe that among us the participants of CIPSEM 77th International Short Course, – there are possible future leaders of our countries. Thus, with the skills we learned, the knowledge we gained and the senses we built up through this course, we would be empowered to negotiate more reasonable in an international event and manage the ecosystem and the earth in a better way.
“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate” – John F. Kennedy

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The “CBD-COP decisions on biofuels” negotiations – simulation chaired by Dr. Axel Paulsch (photo by Mr. Yew Aun Quek)

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!

 

From Dresden to Wisconsin – an alumni story

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.

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The SC71 course in the Botanical Garden of TU Dresden.

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: rizayeva@wisc.edu

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by Ms. Afag Rizayeva (SC71 alumna)

 

My Fulbright – Humphrey Fellowship Experience; building on the CIPSEM Success Story

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.

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Mr. Isaac Hokonya (right) with his fellows of the 39th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management, visiting the German Environment Agency

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.

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by Mr. Isaac Hokonya, Zimbabwe

CIPSEM alumnus appointed as Minister of Nature Protection

Upon the proposal of the Prime Minister, under Article 150 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Erik Grigoryan was appointed as the Minister of Nature Protection on May 12th, 2018. Congratulations!

Mr. Erik Grigoryan was participant of the 30th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management in 2007 and finished the course with a final paper on “Development of Economical Mechanisms for Environmental Management in Armenia and Experience and Practice of Germany”