Excursion to the Botanical Garden of TU Dresden

As a part of the programme of the 71st UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services, our diverse group from 21 countries (mainly from the tropics and subtropical areas) had the experience to visit an important place for tourists, scientists and environmentalists alike: The Botanical Garden of TU Dresden. With an extension of three hectares, the garden is home of around 10,000 species of native and exotic plants, that had been well preserved and managed by specialized gardeners, volunteers and dedicated scientists since 1822. Today the scientific head of the Botanical Garden is Dr. Barbara Ditsch, a woman with great knowledge and passion regarding plant conservation and management and to whom we are deeply grateful for sharing her knowledge and warm hospitality.

During this pleasant excursion, we could find a variety of native and endangered plants included in the red list of Saxony as Arnica montana; medicinal and toxic herbs as Colchium autumnale, tropical and subtropical aquatic, carnivorous or ornamental plants as Victoria cruziana, Nepenthes sp. and orchids respectively, as well as perennial plants and deciduous trees from Europe, temperate Asia, North America and the Mediterranean region. Also our excursion was warmed up with the visit into three wonderful and well managed greenhouses showing the tropical and subtropical regions, and even the humid weather of the Amazon or the warm and dry weather of Madagascar desert.

New concepts of conservation and plant management have been provided to our pool of knowledge, where we could learn that The Botanical Garden of TU Dresden is working with the aim to integrate several innovative proposals towards an important topic in this decade: “Ecosystem services”. In which it is relevant for the ex-situ plant conservation and for the local animal diversity (e.g. providing habitat for 120 bees that have been recorded here and in its surroundings), but also providing a harmonic space for tourism, education and research (estimated 100,000 guests/year), highlighting the multiple roles of botanical gardens within urban areas. This experience had contributed both in our cultural enrichment and also in our professional knowledge, in which the majority of us will be very glad to bring this innovative and multidisciplinary idea of conservation for our countries.

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by Vanessa Wätzold Ospina (Colombia)

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The international birthday

It’s ordinarady to be born in a place rather in a country unless your mother delivered precisely on an international boundary. That would be incredible indeed. However, no lesser is to celebrate your born day in different country with the people born in different country which is something equally special. Ms. Eunice from Ghana enthusiastically invited all the representatives from different country in her party. Food was delicious of course. Spicy: just like the participants. Cakes, balloons and beers were more part of the celebration. Music was really the catalyst. Dancing on beats of music which you don’t understand but can feel it was even more seductive. Songs from East European, Asian, Latin American and more so African. Grooves were dominated mainly by african, obviously. Azerbaijan and Brazil really tried though. It was fun. The international birthday. Perhaps, more birthdays and celebration to come. So, no less we shall enjoy as one family in this diverse world.

by Mr. Sonam Tashi (Bhutan)

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

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!