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.

Visiting the wastewater treatment plant Dresden-Kaditz

By Liu Haibo, China

Today we visited the wastewater treatment plant Dresden-Kaditz. Although the weather conditions were not beautiful with wind and rain, the EM40 course participants still happily visited the unit. This unit, as the only municipal sewage treatment plant in the area, has a long history but is maintained well and orderly. Although conventional sewage treatment technology is used, the plant is unique in its design / operation and management. Moreover the processing indicators can meet the management requirements.

Photos: T. Karp / Liu Haibo

Mr. Lucke, the head of the environmental analysis laboratory at the wastewater treatment plant, guided us along the treatment process, and explained the different treatment steps from inflow to coarse and fine screens to the different clarification tanks and sludge treatment. Seeing the huge groundwater pipes, we could feel our gap with Germany not only on the ground, more perhaps we can not see the place. During the visit, the participants were able to ask questions about the treatment process, the rainwater impact,and so on.

Terratec – 2017 and the Circular Economy: The Journey of many Colours

By Kabiito Bendicto

Life is a journey, right? But you cannot make it alone! On the 6th, March 2017 was yet another day for a journey to Leipzig and indeed, ‘I was’ because ‘we were’. Team CIPSEM -2017 hit the road to Leipzig, ably led by Dr. Andre Lindner with Mr. Bernd Kaute behind the steering wheel to the exhibition grounds (Leipziger Messe) for Terratec-2017. There, in the huge glass-domed exhibition hall was innovators and pioneers displaying and educating the public about their efforts towards making ‘closed-loop economy’ a reality. And thank God, we were welcome!
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Our journey to Terratec 2017 on 6th March, 2017 was directly related to the classes and excursions we had had with Dr. Dietmar Lohmann in January and February, 2017, in which we had interesting discussions about the anthropological footprint on nature and the need to do something about it–may be  the ‘cradle to cradle approach’!!?? By extension though, this journey can be situated in the larger context of the emerging conceptual discourse of the ‘circular economy’, which ought to provide a foundation for fast-pacing state-of-the art environmental management approaches in Germany. This is currently at the heart of the Dresden University of Technology and many other Germany academic and professional institutions such as Interessengemeinschaft KURIS. This development is being championed by the Institute of Environmental Management and Circular Economy under the Material Fluxes and Circular Economy Initiative, and other governmental, individual and corporate establishments.

By both necessity and design we had Dr. Lohmann Dietmar for our classes about waste management. A passionate educationalist deeply enthusiastic about ‘wealth management’ (sorry, ‘waste management’); for he believes, after all, that ‘waste is wealth’.  He stands squarely opposed to the old ‘cradle to grave’ economic system, thus an ardent supporter of the ‘cradle to cradle’ economic vision, widely popularized in the publications of Micheal Braungart and William McDonough since 2002. This need for change is enhanced by the approaching resource scarcity and the human ingenuity and willingness to get on top of the faults of the old economy system that fast turns resources into waste. May be Erol Ozan was right in his assertion that “some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” Now that we got lost, we hope here we arrive at the ‘right’ path; ‘the closed-loop economy’.

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The exhibition brought together 129 exhibitors between 5-7 March, 2017, who  included; Green Ventures, Energy World, the Saxony Federal Ministry of Environment, BAUER Resources GmbH , MTM Plastics –the Upcyclers, Multipet- Multiport Kunststoffe, Reluma International GmbH, Purus Plastics, Baufeld, Gutezeichen Kompost, Interessengemeinschaft KURIS, Veolia, Dresden University of Technology, Hochschule Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences, International Solid waste Association, and the list goes on… The 129 exhibitors were displaying technologies and techniques applicable to solid waste management, biomass decomposition and biogas generation, waste water treatment, wood, plastic, electronic and oil recycling, among others. Resource efficiency and renewable energy-related innovations were at display too, alongside water treatment and purification technologies all under one roof. The audience was both local and international, with provisions (in the upper chamber of the facility) for international networking and information sourcing. With the guidance of Dr. Lohmann, we visited quite a member of stales for brief inputs; including one presided over by a CIPSEM alumnus Dr. Uwe Schlenker of BAUER Resources GmbH.

Interestingly, this exhibition was regarded not just as small,but as ‘very small’ by ‘Germany measures’; especially in Leipzig, historically known as a city for trade fairs. By 1610, Leipzig was being referred to as “the famous trade fair city” by Friedrich Taumann.  Christian August Clodius in 1779 wrote about it as “the city where so many capable strangers arrived with a walking staff in their hand, and through talent, hard work and God’s blessings, acquired a ton of gold”. For big spenders, there awaits the mighty IFAT in Munich in May 2018.Iit is expected to be a mega ‘closed-loop economy’ exhibition.  Our reporter expects it to be really big, given his 2016 experience. The same kind attracted 3096 exhibitors in 2016, exhibiting in fields of water supply, waste water management and waste management, with a total of 137,000 visitors (only!). Bye for now, see you in Munich.

PAGE Ministerial Conference 2017

– Relative Anxiety –

by Sean Townsend (Jamaica)

On March 27, 2017, the CIPSEM EM40 cohort travelled to Berlin, Germany to attend the second staging of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Ministerial Conference. Before exploring the activities of this 2-day conference, it is first important to reflect on the genesis of PAGE.

In 2012, Rio+20 (the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) was held in Brazil. The conference’s outcome document entitled “The Future we Want was a call to action for governments, businesses and the UN alike to support countries interested in the transition to a green economy in an inclusive manner (for people, the planet and prosperity). This call to action resulted in the creation of an action plan, which would use the window of opportunity identified for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as laying a foundation for addressing climate change from 2015-2030. This plan would involve Ministers, heads of UN Agencies, business and thought leaders, representatives from civil society and development partners and so the PAGE was launched in 2013.

The focus of the 2017 conference was to explore how our investments, lifestyles and growth patterns can be “enablers” for the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. It also sought to answer questions such as:

  • What are the necessary ingredients for the transformational change required to deliver prosperity for all on a healthy planet?
  • How can the shift to the Green Economy be accelerated by widening existing partnerships and initiatives to build inclusive green economies?

It should be no surprise that the conference was well organised. It consisted of several main plenary sessions addressed by influential keynote speakers who took the opportunity to make jabs at the current USA administration, especially because of the denial of the existence of climate change which is quite clear to the rest of the world, but that is not the focus of this reflection. Parallel sessions ranged from fascinating case studies presented by state ministers, leaders of global companies as well as young entrepreneurs all working towards the smooth transition into the Green Economy. I should also mention the food provided was superb and dining with the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum was neo-historic.

At first, it was fascinating to observe the level of thinking which has been put in at the higher level by the PAGE partners and the myriad of factors under consideration. But I could not help but wonder how does this transition into reality? How does it accommodate John Public and those of us residing in the developing world?

With these questions, I decided to dialogue with my fellow participants to get feedback to these questions. Like myself, many were impressed with the organisation of the conference and the level of thinking put into the process by scholars and sector leaders. However, we could not help but feel left out of this people-centric process as there was no definitive plan of action and those that were illustrated seem to address stakeholders “who must be aliens from another planet,” as expressed by one of the participants. Many felt the transition to the green economy was imperative but the developing world is not ready, and there is no proper plan of action to address this. It seemed it was business as usual; providing aid to developing countries, instead of building capacity in the true sense to enable us and to put a stop to this dependency on developed countries. During one of the discussion forums, one participant expressed that PAGE 2017 was like “a ‘family wedding’ where one could be caught up with the global family;” I then wonder if the developing world was a distant cousin.

Nonetheless, it was a great opportunity to network, meet leaders of industry and state as well as meet fellow compatriots and especially the women working in this area. The EM40 cohort also took the opportunity to share with conference participants, information on the CIPSEM programme. Who knows, maybe in the near future the CIPSEM programme may include some high profile participants with deep governmental nepotic connections.

Perhaps transition into the Green Economy requires an action plan developed by the developing nations for implementation, influenced by the ideas of the youth and adapting those of the developed nations.

Open minds for open source tools

On January 24th the course participated in a joint lecture/exercise with the students of the International Master Course on “Tropical Forestry” and got hands on information about free open-source solutions for environmental monitoring, developed by the Forest Monitoring and Assessment Team of the FAO. After a general overview about the topic by Mr. Marcelo Rezende, an alumno of the aforementioned Master programme and now land use forestry specialist at the FAO, the exercise focused on the use of “Collect Earth”, a tool that enables data collection through Google Earth. In conjunction with Google Earth, Bing Maps and Google Earth Engine, users can analyze high and very high resolution satellite imagery for a wide variety of purposes.

photos by André Lindner

Berlin – between the future and the past

The CIPSEM trip to Berlin from the 20th to the 22nd October was a truly marvelous experience. The excursion to the German Energy Agency and the German Energy Association of Energy Cooperatives was overly interesting and useful. Both resource persons had an excellent sense of humor which greatly contributed to a sense of camaraderie among the group.
However, for me, the true highlight of the excursion was being able to finally practically envisage the remains of the Berlin Wall after having been provided with an excellent historical overview in our first week at CIPSEM (complete with a quirky, hilarious video!!). Looking at the wall was a truly humbling experience as I was mentally transported back in time to the 9th of November 1989. I imagined the scores of people who had come to witness this historical occasion, the breaking down of a barrier that had separated brothers, sisters,sons, daughters cousins, friends…..finally being brought down. The tears of joy commingled with tears of anguish brought on by the effusion of emotion on this day must have flowed both fervently and freely. I stood there transfixed next to Checkpoint Charlie and imagined individuals getting their passports stamped in order to cross into West Berlin and back into East Berlin.
The enormity of it all cannot be put into words. Staying on an extra day after part of the group left Berlin allowed myself and one of my colleagues to take a city tour on the ubiquitous red “double decker” bus. We were taken on a trip down memory lane to Karl Max Street, complete with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) styled houses whose design was mandated by the government at the time, complete with certain symbols above the eaves of each window. We also got to see the captivating Berlin Bridge in seemingly suspended animation with the modern day yellow train traversing its lower reaches, a perfect juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern.
My Berlin experience was a personal indictment of the fact that a Wall could not and cannot solve political or ideological differences in the past or in the present.The willingness to respect other people’s opinions and genuinely listen to their viewpoints is what ultimately will see a semblance of peace returning to our tumultuous world.
by Mr. James Paul Mwangi – Kenya

Berlin Adventure

By Gulnara Anapiiaeva (Kyrgyzstan)

It’s mostly known that capital city of each country has more options on each sector, as it concentrates governmental and non-governmental institutions. CIPSEM organized a study trip to Berlin between October 20 and 21, 2016 and we, the participants of SC69, could have this opportunity to visit several federal and non-governmental organizations. In addition to this, we could explore Berlin’s historical and cultural sites between courses.
Our first meeting was with Mrs. Königsberg, who took us to discover the nearby surroundings of the BMUB (Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety), since it is located in an area having historical traces of the border zones of Eastern and Western Berlin. Mrs. Königsberg was very enthusiastic to speak about the situation in Berlin during the 1962-1989 years. Participants were eager to listen and asked questions even though it was cold and cloudy outside in Berlin.

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The next meeting was followed after the lunch break, which helped everybody to warm up and restore energy! We were well surprised to discover a small, but important community grey-water recycling center in the down town of Berlin managed by Mr. Nolde. This meeting was concerned to energy and recycling. Mr. Nolde explained all aspects of grey-water recycling in it’s three steps. Personally, I was surprised that there is another view to recycling of water in Germany, as it’s also an energy source!!! Overall, Mr. Nolde explained also water recycling challenges and new water concepts and regulations in Germany. The other discover was that this facility was managed only by one person and it was well automated and organized.
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Afterwards we could go back to our hotel by sightseeing Potsdam Square, the Holocaust memorial, Brandenburg Gate, the German Parliament Building – “Bundestag” and the Chancellor’s office.

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The second day started with a visit to the German Energy Agency (DENA), where Mr. Schmidt presented this very institution. The expertise, consultancy as well as developing strategy and monitoring of renewable energy sector in Germany.
The final visit was at the German Association of Energy Cooperatives, which is located next to the Brandenburg Gate. The participants could learn projects, tasks and functions of more than 800 cooperatives in the renewable energy sector of Germany. Having finished our visit, we said each other ‘see you again at CIPSEM’, since the majority of participants rested in Berlin or went to other cities such as Amsterdam and Paris for the weekend.

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At last, I can say that we were warmly welcomed it was a very helpful visit at each organization during the two-day gateway in Berlin.