“CIPSEM Day” in Nairobi

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Without having any appointment, Louisa Mwenda (Kenya, left) and Isabela Mkude (Tanzania, right) met in the vicinity of the 3rd Meeting of the United Nations Enevironment Asembly (UNEA-3) in Nairobi, both are alumni of the “68th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Integrated Waster Resource Management and Health” – sustainability thinking connects!

photo by Louisa Mwenda

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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!

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.

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!

Farewell to energy experts

On Wednesday November 2nd the 69th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SC69) concluded in festive manner and 21 experts from 18 countries were looking back at four weeks with CIPSEM, but also ahead towards their challenges back home. Good luck SC69 – and all the best!

photos by Tamara Karp

Impact of climate change on water resources in Kaloleni, Kilifi county, Kenya

a field report of Ms. Louisa Chinyavu Mwenda (CIPSEM alumna, SC68)

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In most of the rural parts of Kenya including the coastal interior, few know of the term climate change. However, impacts have been felt far and wide, with many left with lingering questions on their minds. Drought is the most worrying issue that the communities in Kilifi county face. In recent years, the weather patterns have been predictable, but in 2016 it was different. It is evident that the harsh impacts of climate change have affected water resources and in turn affecting food security, and other sectors including health and education. In mid October 2016, just a few weeks after completing the SC 68 Integrated Water Resources Management and Health short course, I set out to find out more on the impacts of climate change on water resources in Kaloleni, Kilifi County with the aim of gathering sufficient information on the situation which can aid in future interventions. I interviewed some of the residents in Kaloleni, Kilifi county, and this is what some of them had to say:

Dama Kahindhi

I find Dama an elderly woman with five other ladies surrounding a well known as Mwabanda, in Zizimo village, Kilifi County, catching up while fetching water. Mwabanda is a well, which has been the source of water for the villagers for almost three years. In Swahili, she informs me that the water is undrinkable and is dirty because sediments flow in especially from harsh winds. I spot a number of frogs in the water. She also admits that sometimes the quality of the water affects health especially in young children who are vulnerable to disease. She tells me that she in normally at the pond thrice in a day and sometimes even five times. As Dama speaks, a woman balancing on her head a jerrican full of water, commonly known as a ‘kia’ interjects informing me that there is no rain and the maize crop has failed due to the severe drought. As a parting shot, Dama tells me “the drought is so severe that even men now days have to join us to fetch water”.

Glory

She is a young girl probably not a teenager.  She trembles on spotting the camera and is afraid to answer any questions; however she does answer a few in low tones. She goes to school but today she is not in class because she has to fetch water. She barely makes any eye contact but informs me the pond is called Kwa Kagogo. She then continues to fill in her jerrican with water, under the scorching sun.

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Clemence Mjeni

Clemence is a middle aged woman who informs me that the river Bemkambe, in Bemkambe village Kilifi County, has been dry for about five years now. She points towards the path where the river meandered previously which is now a bed of rocks and sand. ‘In previous years, the rains would start in March and continue till May. However this year, there was no rain at all. Our maize and rice crop failed due to drought’. She also mentions that she heard that the country would experience El Niño, but was also worried that when the rains are in excess, the coconut trees in her farm would fall because the roots become saturated with water. However she says that she is still waiting for the El Niño, because it will bring hope.

 

Samson Chome

‘Tangu El Nino ya 1997, hakuna mvua ya maana…’ which means that there has been no significant rain since the 1997 ElNino, claims Mr. Chome, who is a resident of Chanagande, Kilifi county. He is appalled by the weather pattern changes, and claims that people and livestock have died due to drought. The 60 year old man informs me that this village, Kagombani, which means ‘banana plant’, was characterized by banana plantations when he was in his youth. He counts and points three frail banana plants on his farm, which is the current situation in most parts of the village. Mr. Chome is chatty, and goes ahead to say that he is from searching for pasture for his one lactating cow but he insists that he needs a borehole to sustain his cow and calf and also his family; because the ponds that he was relying on are also drying up and the soils are no longer fertile.

Naomi Kenga

She is commonly referred to as Hawe Dena in Kaloleni area, Kilifi County. Hawe Dena is 87 years old but is strong and very knowledgeable, clearly from the many years of experience. She informs me of how the weather patterns have drastically changed affecting the water supply in the area. She has a subsistence farm, which she plants various crops, but complains that it is very tiring to carry water to the farm. ‘Mwaka huu mahindi hayakukuwa kwa sababu ya ukosefu wa mvua,” she says, meaning that this year the maize did not thrive because of lack of water. She tells us that her farm is rain-fed and so when it does not rain she is severely affected. The soil beneath my feet is very hot. She also tells me that she has a well constructed in her ‘shamba’ and she takes me on a tour around the farm and to the well, however the well depends on rain water and is currently dry. She also takes the opportunity to request for any intervention that could make the situation better.

Other than the impacts on the land and on water and agricultural resources, other effects can be seen such as the receding coastline. Boats are spotted stuck in sand in need of evacuation. Therefore it is necessary to find both short and long term solutions towards adaptation and mitigation strategies towards climate change. How is climate change affecting you? What can you do about the impacts?  What can you do about climate change?

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Looking back at SC68 …

Just when I thought my year was exciting already, I was accepted into the 68th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Integrated Water Resource Management and Health. Dresden is a beautiful city full of details to admire. It’s a very clean and quite place, rich in history and culture. It´s very comforting to walk the Altstadt, from the Semper Opera House crossing to the Procession of Princes and arriving into the Frauenkirche. And sometimes you get surprised by a white shiny piano in the middle of the square accompanying a lady singing opera. Dresden being full of green areas has a great transportation system that invites you to any of its museums. The Hygiene Museum is a very curious place, don´t be skeptical about it, try it! Although Germans are very autonomous people they are very friendly and helpers with a good sense of humor. Many times they rescue me in the supermarket trying to get regular sugar or milk. Punctuality is one of their best qualities, so don’t be late in here!

This course was a tight schedule well handled by the CIPSEM staff to deliver water knowledge from all possible angles.  Through lectures and excursions we learned about global water issues, types of treatments, bio-indicators and much more. We visit dams, reservoirs, treatment plants, a pilot project of greywater recycling (impressive!), research centers and institutes for drinking water, wastewater and underground water. Personally I learned new topics: antibiotics residual and sustainable sanitation.  One of the best lectures were Andre’s classes, in which he gave us bridges to cross and doors to open for never stopping to learn. CIPSEM was also the passage to meet foreign friends. I know we all miss the companionship and the amity will be for a lifetime. The different personalities, cultures and traditions made it fun. We never stop learning from each other, even now that we are separate.

I was very happy to accomplish my targets in this course, especially in expanding my world view. And as Dr. Paul said at the Saidenbach Dam: “We are so different but united in this course, why don’t our countries behave the same?”

by Ms. Laize Maite Barranco Pacheco – Panama