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.

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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.

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Cycling and Picnic along the Elbe River

a “Schönes Wochenende” recommendation …

Did you know that the first bicycle was conceptualized in Germany?

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A German baron named Karl von Drais, a civil servant to the Grand Duke of Baden in Germany, made the first major development when he created a steerable, two-wheeled contraption in 1817 and patented this design in 1818. Known by many names, including the “velocipede,” “hobby-horse,” “draisine” and “running machine (German: Laufmaschine)”, it is this early edition that has made Drais widely acknowledged as the father of the bicycle.

And did you know that cycling about 12 mph (19 kph) means a 150-pound (68 kg) rider may burn more than 540 calories in an hour? Cycling is one of the best ways to burn hundred of calories during a workout.

Inspired already? FYI, CIPSEM has nine (9) bicycles available for the participants. Roman is the man to approach for the bicycle units.

Ready to take advantage of the bikes? Bicycling is enjoyable when you share the experience, the view, (and the snacks) with like-minded fellows. So look for those cool and willing-to-be-fit people, grab the bikes and head to the Elbe river as first destination. There are many reasons why Elbe river is an excellent biking place. The best view while having picnic is in Loschwitz because it is far from the usual picnic places and it feels like you own the universe there. Prof. Schanze also recommended the place, so it is worth checking out.

There are also various routes, both short ways and far-reaching, in going to that other side of the river. But the best one is to cross the Palais Grosser Garten from CIPSEM heading down to Kaethe-Kollwitz-Ufer, pass the Flea Market at the Albert Bridge, and cross the Elbe via Carola Bridge.

Good luck and Schönes Wochenende!

PS: don’t miss the Sunset at Carola Bridge and the dusky view of the Terrassenufer.

by Mr. Jun Piong (Philippines)

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the author

Back in history with Dresden time machine …

“This fire will return. It will make a large circle and return to devour us”

a citizen, Germany, 1938

Light, red, grey, black.

Again red, grey, black.

Grey and black.

Black and death.

World War II, Dresden, Germany, February 13-15, 1945

3900 tons of high-explosive and fire bombs destroyed over 90% of historic medieval city of Dresden. Thousands of victims disappeared in smoke under the influence of a temperature higher than 1000 °C. During the war, Dresden was a civilian city with no military significance. In the last weeks of the war, the city gave shelter to the thousands of refugees.

Before the war, the former capital of the Kingdom of Saxony was called the “Florence of the Elbe” because of its artistic and architectural wealth. Wars firstly destroy the culture and beauty inside the human beings, and then the next step is the destruction of the external beauty, culture, music, arts, souls. This is what happened in the world during the Second World War.

74 years after the war, the fellows of CIPSEM EM-42 had the opportunity to do a unique journey in the history, experience Dresden of February 1945. The 360° Panorama, created by the artist Yadegar Asisi, takes the visitors of Dresden Panometer back to the past, like a time machine. The day was full of emotions, full of voices, images from the war and we hardly could speak after the visit.

Which military objective justified the hell unleashed on Dresden? Why did they burn its people? If there was no good strategic reason for it, then not even the passage of time can make it right! It was moral bombing that left the humans in a moral dilemma. The questions it poses are as difficult as ever in a world in which civilians continue to suffer in the wars of their autocratic leaders. During the Second World war, some 55 million people dead, some six million Europeans of Jewish faith or background were murdered, a great number of cities in Europe and Germany not more than a desert of rubble. Many survivors remained traumatized, alone and full of fear.

“In its 360° circumference, Yadegar Asisi’s Dresden 1945 Panorama shows a comprehensive circular representation taking account of the many aspects, fates and stories of the bombing raids and extending well beyond the ruined horizon. Yadegar Asisi has created a parabolic work, exemplary for mankind’s history of violence.” (Dr. Gorch Pieken, Scientific Director and Scientific Head of the German Armed Forces’ Museum of Military History in Dresden).

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The visit to the Panometer and the participation in Dresden Human Chain were important for all of us, to learn the other side of the history. We would like to express our gratitude to the organizers and to our Professor of German, Dr. Hendrik Breuls, for this opportunity.

In the end of our visit to Dresden Panometer, I remember the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.” Are we cured from the war disease?

by Ms. Hasmik Barseghyan (Armenia)

(Less than) 50 Shades of Brown

Most likely, this morning some of us went to the bathroom, brushed our teeth, took a bath, and did our things in the toilet, maybe followed by washing the dishes that have been sitting on the sink since last night dinner. Little did we know, the water (or better we call it wastewater) that we used is flushed and drained to a collection pipe. In the case of EM-41 class, our wastewater is collected by sewer pipes in Dresden which has a total length of 1700 km with diameter of up to 2 meters.

These pipes are laying under the roads of Dresden and deliver our wastewater to a specific plant in Kaditz, an area northwest of Dresden. Occupying an area as large as 25 football fields, the plant was constructed in 1910 to treat the wastewater produced by Dresden’s population. Currently, everyday approximately 120.000 m3 of wastewater coming from 700.000 people is reaching the treatment plant. Since Dresden’s wastewater system applies a combined system, the incoming wastewater is collected together with rainwater and treated together in the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

To give you some illustration about the smell that we inhaled that afternoon, here is a picture of raw wastewater which just arrived in the WWTP; a dark-brown water.

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Dirty, hence the dark color. Full of organic materials, which could lead to oxygen depletion in the aquatic ecosystems.  Full of microorganisms, which some are harmful to humans, and of course smelly. And these are the shades of brownish colors of the same wastewater during the treatment processes:

More or less 24 hours later, we will receive this not-even-close-to brown water, which is the treated water from the WWTP.

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Almost like clear water, it is still not safe for drinking, but is now safe to be discharged into receiving water bodies, in this case the famous Elbe River. With only 5 mg/l of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5), and 41 mg/l of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), NH4-N of 0,7 mg/l, N total of ±13 mg/l, and P Total of 1 mg/l, this water won’t be a harm to humans and neither to the environment once it is discharged into the river.

How could the wastewater be turned into clear water? The answer is because of several physical, biological, and chemical processes that were taking place in the plant. At first, the wastewater was treated with physical and mechanical treatment with bar screens and grit chamber to remove the trash and to remove sand subsequently from the wastewater. The water then underwent a sedimentation process in which its floating and settle-able solids sink to the bottom of the tank. Afterwards, the water was transported to aeration tanks. In these tanks, air bubbles were introduced to the water to be used by the microorganisms which “eat” the organics. The water then again settled in secondary sedimentation tanks, from which it can then be safely discharged to receiving water bodies.

The sludge coming from the primary and secondary sedimentation tanks was also treated in a series of sludge treatment units. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to visit all the units, but we could see from afar the two giant egg-shaped anaerobic digestion tanks.

We had fun during the visit, especially since the weather was rather nice today. And since 81% of the energy used is produced by the plant (mainly from anaerobic sludge treatment units and small amount produced by solar systems), we proudly took a picture in between the solar panel systems.

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by Vika Ekalestari (Indonesia)

special credit to Tamara Karp (CIPSEM) for the title idea 😉

Excursion to Waste Management and Recycling Facilities

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In Saxony waste management involves many stakeholders (including private, public and PPP`s) and has a very interesting social aim. Led by Dr. Dietmar Lohmann, we had two days of excursions (January 31st and February 1st) to many waste management facilities.

It was very interesting to know more about the German management model, in which consumers and producers are economically responsible for waste management. The inclusion of handicapped people in waste business was nice and surprising, becoming definitely a role model to be analyzed and implemented in developing countries.

We had the opportunity to see new technologies for bio-waste treatment, like the quick fermentation chambers at the composting facility. Although it is important to mention that some other processes at this facility, like compost maturation and marketing, surely can be improved.

In developing countries may be difficult to find waste to energy projects, but here in Germany we had the chance to visit a landfill-gas utilization project, in which biogas was transformed into energy for the grid.

Also we were impressed by the willingness of Germans for buying recycled products, as we saw the success of PAKA, a cardboard recycling company with more than 100 years of history. We have to highlight the way they market their products and find specific and lucrative niches.

These excursions were a wonderful experience for us, but also a great chance to have nice moments with our fellows.

by Gabriela de Jesús Fernández Tay (Cuba) & Eduardo Esteves (Ecuador)

New year, new group

Today, we could welcome the participants of the 41st UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries. From the first impression, we can be glad to work with a group of dedicated individuals on the manifold aspects of environmentally sustainable development during the next six months. We will keep you updated!

 

Here are some impressions from the opening ceremony (pictures by Harald Schluttig).

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)