Coherence despite all odds

In contrast to the physical distance we all need to keep these days, here is another example of the persistence of team spirit and the power of relationships. Recently there was a spontaneous online get-together of alumni of the 71st UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services, which took place in September 2017:


Also the ongoing 43rd UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries had to adapt its character and after most of the participants returned home, it’s now continued as an “online only” effort. Nevertheless there was, despite the significant differences among time zones, a first complete reunion of all fellows last Wednesday (April 15th):


Once me and a friend and former colleague tried to come up with a fancy catchphrase for CIPSEM to be used for public relation purposes – we inoffically ended up with “CIPSEM – we open worlds” … and we still do, despite a global shut-down.

Take care and stay safe!

Group dynamics

Always adapting and improving our course programme, we had the first session on group dynamics today. Sustainable development cannot be achieved by only a few individuals, after all. Issues we have addressed include

  • How to work in teams effectively while benefitting from everybody active participation,
  • how to build sustainable (working) relationships,
  • how to deal with a multitude of goals and
  • pitfalls in communication.



Here are a few useful models for some background knowledge:

Excursion to Saxon Switzerland National Park

Out of the classroom, CIPSEM participants visited the National Park “Saxon Switzerland”, a good example for successful environmental education.

The tour was not only enriched by the landscape, but also enriching the mindscape: at the National Park Centre we learned about the efforts being made to educate people and communities about the environment and its associated problems, raise awareness and motivate them to solve these problems.

We finished the day with a short walk in the wild.

Report by Hiba Mohammad (Syria), photographs by Hiba Mohammad (Syria) and Dulip Somirathna (Sri Lanka)


Learning to communicate

Everybody can express him- or herself. However, being familiar with a few communication methods makes it much more likely that visions about good environmental management will become reality.

During a one-day workshop, Ursula Caser, an experienced mediator, has introduced participants to a range of concepts that will improve the exchange with decision makers and the public. In hands-on group work participants could practice what they have learned by facilitating a meeting.

Photos by Harald Schluttig

Stories from the lecture room: Communication

A lot of variety and action was offered today in Ms. Casers class. The EM38 course learned in a very lively way (see pictures) which factors have to be considered when communicating with the public and with decision makers.

(Photos: Ms. Caser)