Archive for February, 2015

Our visit to the Resource efficient TERI retreat for environment awareness and training, New Delhi, India

Written by Marianne on . Posted in General Information, India, News & Updates, Publications

In the framework of the Education for Sustainability project, Nektarina Non Profit and its Indian partner Zest Youth Movement attended the 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit that took place in New Delhi, India in February 2015.

In the margins of this major conference we learnt that The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI, also organizer of DSDS) had established a sustainable campus on the outskirts of Delhi, as a best example for people of how natural resources should efficiently be used.

Thus we took the opportunity of our presence in Delhi and the possibility offered by TERI to visit the RETREAT (Resource efficient TERI retreat for environment awareness and training).

“ Renewable energy is seen as an effective option for ensuring access to modern energy services in our vast country. Local and regional environmental problems associated with the generation of conventional energy have provided a strong argument for enhancing the role of renewable energy within the broad energy development plans of the country.

With this in mind TERI developed this complex at Gual Pahari, Gurgaon, as an example of sustainable habitat.

The Gual Pahari campus is situated 35 km south of Delhi, at Gurgaon, Haryana, covering an area of 36.5 hectares of beautifully landscaped surroundings. When TERI bought the land, it was totally rocky and devoid of any vegetation. Intense plantation activities were undertaken by scientists and researchers for improving the fertility of the land and today it is covered with lush green forests and gardens full of beautiful flowers. Amidst this greenery and beauty lies the RETREAT, a model of sustainable habitat.”

After driving almost an hour from the center of Delhi, we entered the campus at the gate and left our car there. Vehicles are indeed strictly forbidden to enter the campus. We continued our journey with a battery run vehicle. Only those vehicles are allowed, to avoid pollution, keep air clean and keep human beings healthier and provide more oxygen. Actually, at many places in India, the government has asked to use battery run vehicles like on the world famous Taj Mahal site. The acid rains induced because of air pollution have already affected the monument. Even in many universities and companies campus, battery run vehicles or other wise vehicles are used, like at the University of Pune for example. Actually this is very good option that should mandatorily be used in all industrial, educational, historical places.

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A representative of TERI welcomed us at the main office building and then brought us through the campus and show us the main departments and projects developed there.

The campus was inaugurated in 2000 by the former Prime Minister of India, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is mainly known as the Teri Green Campus.

First went to the Micro propagation technology park and saw how the team develops and produces microbe-free plants of various species. Millions of plants are thus supplied to the industries and farmers.

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Then we went to see the TEAM process installation witch permits generation of biogas and manure from biogas generation from various sources of organic waste.

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The rainwater purification basin is established as an integral part of the campus. Rainwater is stored in one tank where mud and other material settled at the bottom of the tank, coupled with oxygen, kills unwanted small microorganisms. The water is then used for the campus’ irrigation needs.

The main building complex is build in a way to benefit the most from natural resources and to operate in the most autonomous and sustainable way.

“This climate-responsive building is intended to serve as a model sustainable habitat, based on new and clean technologies.”

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No electricity from outside is used. The building was constructed in a way to naturally keep the temperature temperate in all seasons thanks to a smart use of sunrays orientations and tree planting which gives more shadow in summer and allows the sun to enter the rooms once their lost their leaves in winter.

Also, to maintain the temperature in the rooms an underground tunnel has been build. The tunnel out let is open at one end. The air then goes through a motor that ventilates it and push it towards the different levels and rooms of the building among a chimney mechanism. There are two out lets in each room. The other one exhausts out the hot/cold air to that the temperature is maintained.

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“The temperature in the living area is maintained at a comfortable 20° C to 30° C throughout the year, without the use of an air conditioner. The concept is based on the observation that underground cellars are naturally cooler in summers and warmer in winters. In ancient and medieval India, a similar concept was applied in the construction of buildings such as that seen in the Red Fort at Delhi. To circulate the air in the living area, each room has been fitted with a ‘solar chimney’ and the warm air rises and escapes through this chimney creating an air current. Cool air from the underground tunnels, helped by two blowers fitted in the tunnels, rush in to replace the warm air. In winter, the cold air in the rooms is replaced by warm air from the tunnels.”

On the top of the buildings solar power plants are fixed and provide all necessary energy (light, hot water, etc.). The inner parts are constructed in such way that there is more air ventilation and circulation.

“The RETREAT takes full advantage of the abundant solar energy and has used innovative ways to tap this energy by installing 24 solar water heaters to provide 2000 liters of hot water to the living quarters. Photovoltaic panels help capture solar energy and store it in a bank of batteries, which is the main source of power at night. Individual panels, power lights outside the building. Even the water pump is powered by solar panels.”

The building is used as a research and learning center, has accommodation and catering capacities and is used as a venue for hosting groups and conferences.

Afterwards we visited the biomass gasifier based power generation site. All food waste and other waste material are used to produce energy through a process of decomposition with help of water. Gas comes out of it and is used for cooking and other purposes. The gas is supplied through pipes to different parts where needed.

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“During the day, the building is powered by a biomass gasifier, which is fed by firewood, twigs, branches, and crop stubble from the campus itself. In conventional devices that burn firewood directly, a large part of the energy is lost. In a biomass gasifier this wood is burnt twice as efficiently. Any surplus energy that is generated is used to recharge the battery bank. This battery bank is thus served by two sources of power, namely the photovoltaic panels and the gasifier.” 

We saw then the wasted water management system where all the wasted water from the campus is collected and organically treated. Around lakhs of liters the water is then used to tree plantation watering all over the campus.

“At this complex, a novel method to recycle waste water for irrigation has been introduced. Sewage is collected in a settling tank and the sludge settles at the bottom and a part of the waste is decomposed at this stage by microbes. Next, the water passes through a bed of soil that also has some reeds, that adapt well to water logged conditions. The roots of these plants act as a filter, removing and absorbing many of the toxic substances from the waste water. The water that comes out at this stage is of irrigation quality or even for bathing purposes.”

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What a great breathe of fresh air visiting this campus after several days spent in the highly polluted city of Delhi!

Such initiatives offer a great overview on the different options that organizations could use to contribute in a more sustainable way of life in India. Practically, it is still very challenging to spread those approaches towards the whole society, but we deeply believe that thanks to those projects and best practices, and through a quality education on sustainable development from the youngest age, future generations would progressively adopt and generalize those methods. Such training institutes should be set up all across India so to allow the sharing of knowledge all across the country.

 

Source of the quotations

TERI’s website

Deliberating on Sustainability

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Books & Magazine, E-Magazine, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, News & Updates, Publications, Take Action

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A poster at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit

The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit is held every year around a theme that is identified as the most pressing issue of the current times. The themes at DSDS have ranged from protecting the global commons to global challenge of resource efficient growth and development.

Currently energy crisis, water and food crisis are emerging problems. To create a robust green economy these three interlinked and interdependent resources should be secured.  “Sustainable Development Goals and dealing with climate change” was identified as the theme for the 15th edition of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, held from 5-7 February, 2015 in New Delhi, India.

From Lima to Paris while stopping by in India these gatherings that bring together important personalities and decision makers provide a platform for people to come together and talk about issues that have become a huge concern of this century. It is just a matter of time whether these talks will be materialized into actions, productive actions that will put a full stop on the abuse of earth’s resources.

This year’s Summit at Delhi discussed these specific issues, striving to find ways forward towards a sustainable future.  Mr. Kofi Annan (Nobel Laureate and Former Secretary-General, United Nations) gave an inaugural keynote address in 2014 stating that just like the developed world the developing countries cannot continue to exploit the resources of the world as lack of access to energy, water and food withholds the growth of the developing world.

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Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger with other prominent speakers at DSDS

Several eminent world leaders participated in the event including speakers from diverse sectors like the famous action hero and former Governor of California Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In terms of Gujarat’s clean energy actions he termed Gujarat as “the California of India”. He said:

“Climate change is not science fiction and it is impacting us right now. This is bigger than a movie and this is the biggest challenge of our times.”

“Mr. Modi has shown that small actions and sub-national governments have tremendous power. They don’t have to wait for national governments to create action,” he said adding that Mr. Modi would prove the naysayers in the world wrong. Mr. Schwarzenegger said, “We must think differently if we are going to win the battle [against climate change] and change the world.” He added.

Despite managing to gather eminent personalities in the global south, the DSDS did not get enough media attention like the other big conferences on similar issues. This does raise a question here. Is the developing world considered less important when it comes to tackling grave problems knowing it is being affected the most?

Recently the environment minister of India said that clean energy will form a main part of India’s national climate strategy yet Prakash Javedekar added that India would resist any outside scrutiny with reference to the European calls for transparency.

“There is no question of an ex-ante review in an independent country and democratic country like India,” Javedekar said.

On speaking about the road to a UN summit in Paris this December, where world leaders hope to come up with a global climate deal, Mr.Prakash Javedekar said that since the last half century the carbon emissions have increased with each passing day and now the developing world is asking the developed world will it vacate the carbon space?

By the end of March the developed countries are expected to reveal their draft contributions towards the international effort to limit carbon emissions. India is among a number of developing countries that promises to publish its climate plan.Susheel Kumar, a top official and climate negotiator, said that the government is striving for a transparent and comprehensive national climate strategy that will be based on consultation with civil society in India . He added “There is no room for international intervention.”

The grave problem of climate justice that affects the entire world population should be about coming up with a strategy that is inclusive and is not discriminatory. Here we have to put aside the hierarchy of the developed and developing world as we all are together in this.  Green growth talks about the earthlings. It has been recognized to have the potential to develop a resilient, sustainable and inclusive pattern of growth across countries.

This is the message we need to take back with us from these high profile conferences and not a rift that highlights the polar extremes as a hindrance to achieve the stated goal.

How we implemented the Children and Youth Drawing Competition and Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development in Cameroon

Written by Marianne on . Posted in Cameroon, General Information, News, News & Updates

Remember the E4S project implemented with support from the Cameroon-based youth-led NGO Vital Actions for Sustainable Development (AVD) a Children and Youth Drawing Competition and Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development. These activities took place in the city of Yaoundé during two months, from 25 August to 25 October 2014.

The Drawing Competition

The drawing competition was organized under the theme « Make a ‘Green’ Wish for the Planet » with the aim to promote education for sustainability in its social, economic and environmental pillars while also encouraging an open reflection on this theme which shall be placed at the centre of education of children, youth and citizens both inside and outside educational systems.

The competition was opened to children and youth of Cameroon, aged 10 to 20 years, students or not. They were invited to produce an artwork in the form of a drawing which represented their dream or wish for a greener and sustainable planet without pollution, where waste is recycled, sustainable energy is used and all citizens work together to protect earth from harm. Entries were also required to raise awareness about education for sustainability and inspire citizens on the topic.

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Launching of the competition
The competition was implemented throughout three main phases. The first step was the official launching which took place on Monday 25 August in Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School with the participation of students from Bastos Educative Centre. The launch event started at 10 a.m with as its first item a welcoming word by the head of the host school, followed by the presentation of the E4S project by the local representative who also presented the drawing competition theme and the expectations from participants. The importance for children and youth to take part in the contest was highlighted by him and he mentioned the amazing prizes to win by 10 children and 10 youth. A representative from the working team who developed the WWF Youth Strategy for Education for Sustainable, delivered a short word and his intervention was followed by a group of students from the hosting school which performed a great traditional dance.IMAG1346 Ahead of and during the launching, the E4S project team has distributed flyers with information about the competition and students and other potential participants were invited to join the educative talks scheduled by the project team. The launch event ended with an open-microphone for the public which served as a free space for people to express themselves and share their opinions about their understanding of the competition and the value of education for sustainable. The launch has ended around 2 p.m with a lot of music being played and open floor.
Educative talks in the schools

After the launch event, the E4S project team in Cameroon has delivered a number of 4 educative talks in the two targeted schools in Yaoundé city, with 2 educative talks organized per school. The talks were held during two weeks, from Monday 1st to Friday 12th September. Their main objective was to enable children and youth interested to participate in the competition to get familiar with the topic, the participation rules and to receive useful knowledge and information that could enable them to have a successful participation with very good entries. The E4S project team has facilitated the talks and got support from teachers in the schools. The talks took place as follows:

Educative talks in Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School

The primary school hosted its talks on Wednesday 3 and on Friday 12 September. The project team went to the school on these days and had an open talk and discussion with the students on the competition topic in order to achieve the above objective. The students were really interested ad an active participation was noted. The teachers who supported the talks also encouraged their school children to give special attention the activity in order for them to learn and also win prizes.

Educative talks in Nkolbisson Government High School

The secondary school welcomed its educative talks on Friday 5 and Wednesday 10 September. The facilitators from E4S Cameroon team have accompanied students by providing them with support and assistance to produce good entries and understand well the competition theme and guidelines. During the second talk they had a chance to show results from personal reflections they made on their preparation for the competition. This has enabled the team to make suggestions to improve ideas students had as well as provide them with more practical knowledge on the topic.

Promotion of the competition in the schools and collection of entries

After the educative talks were completed, students from both schools were given three weeks, from Monday 15 September to Sunday 5 October, to start producing their drawings. This period of time was agreed in order to enable participants to submit many and good quality entries. The initial deadline for participation fixed on Friday 19 September was postponed to 5 October, International Teacher Day, because it was not very easy at that time to get students focused on an extra-school activity given that they just started the school year. It was therefore necessary to adjust the dates.

During the three weeks the project team went many times to the two schools in order to motivate and encourage the students to consider the competition as serious and thus participate. This task was supported by the teachers and also by some volunteers. The promotion of the competition was also made through the installation of posters announcing the competition in both schools as well as announcements during school gatherings which take place every Monday morning.

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Selection of the competition’s winners

From 6 to 8 October a total of 232 entries were collected in both schools and external participants (students and non students) by the project team with the teachers support. Out of this number, only 200 drawings met the competition guidelines and were submitted later to the appreciation of a national jury which has chosen the winners. 169 entries came from primary schools and 63 were collected from secondary schools. At the end a number of 150 drawings from primary schools were submitted to the jury with 50 retained from the secondary school. The jury therefore needed to evaluate a total of 200 entries in order to select twenty (20) winners of the competition, including 10 in the children category aged 6 to 11 years and 10 in the youth category aged 12 to 20 years.

The selection of the winners for the drawing competition took place on Tuesday 21 October at Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School which has offered to host the activity. The five members of the jury were chosen based on their support to the drawing competition, their understanding of the competition theme, their engagement with educational school activities, and their role as teachers or educators in both participating schools.

The jury had as main tasks to select twenty (20) best entries and rank them by merit order using a fair selection process and the following criteria: originality (5 pts), quality (5 pts), connection of the drawing with the contest theme (5 pts), contribution to the E4S project’s vision for Cameroon (5 pts) and the impact the entry could create on Cameroon ESD policy when shown to others (5 pts).

The jury meeting started at 3 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. It was not an easy task given the good quality of some of the entries. The jury has first shortlisted some entries before making its final decision on them – the aim here was to better structure the process. Members reviewed all 200 entries one after another and then ranked them by merit order. This process was anonymous given that members were mainly teachers from the participating schools, thus knew some participants. The jury work has ended with a key reflection workshop on the competition learning which was facilitated by E4S local representative in Cameroon with a dynamic contribution from all members.

Award ceremony

The award ceremony for the drawing competition was held on Thursday 23 October 2014 in Nkolbisson Government High School in Yaoundé. It was attended by over 50 people, including the 20 winners of the contest, teachers from both schools, other students from the host school as well as special guests and family members who all came to encourage and congratulate the winners.

The event started at 12 p.m. with the singing of Cameroon national anthem by everyone. The E4S local representative in Cameroon then took the floor in order to remind the context and background of the competition. He also gave a summary of all activities that were organized. After him the President of the jury talked about the process to select the winners and how dynamic and engaging this task was, according to him. His words were followed by the opening remarks from the Head of Nkolbisson Government High School – the host school of the ceremony. She firstly recognized the importance of such initiative in empowering a new generation of young people who shall commit themselves to a better future and world. She then thanked the E4S team for their efforts in organizing the contest and appreciated the choice of her school for hosting the award ceremony. After her remarks, she invited the first prize’s winners from each category of the contest and gave them with their awards. The other winners were then called one by one in order to also be rewarded by the Head, jury members or teachers.

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All winners received prizes which included certificates signed by E4S local representative in Cameroon and Nektarina CEO, T-shirts sponsored by Plant-for-the-Planet, books and magazines offered by Plant-for-the-Planet and Planete Jeunes, school supplies, bags, drawing materials, flyers about E4S, and the promotion of their drawings during the ceremony. The winning entries were therefore exhibited during the award ceremony. Winners along with their families, friends, classmates and teachers were present and had a great time. The ceremony ended with a group photo where all winners, teachers, jury members, organizers, guests and the Head of the host school came together. After that a cocktail was opened to participants.

The Teachers’ Workshop

One very important activity to organize as part of the E4S project in Cameroon was a Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development. This workshop was held on Tuesday 21 October at Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School following the selection jury. The resource persons who took part in the jury work were the same given their support to the drawing competition, their understanding of the competition theme, their engagement with educational school activities, and their role as teachers or educators in both participating schools.

The aim of the workshop was to reflect the results of the drawing competition in order to discuss how it has provided participants with a learning journey to better understand the topic of sustainability and their possible role as agents of change. Secondly the workshop engaged the participants in a discussion on how a reform in the education sector in Cameroon could lead to the insertion of education for sustainability in the school curricula at the basic and secondary levels as a separate topic that will help the government to educate and empower citizens. Based on the drawings they have evaluated as member of the selection jury, the participants were able to see a link between this overall goal and what the children and youth have shared through their entries. The workshop has used a roundtable and open discussion as the methodology to enable contribution and dynamic participation.

From this reflection, it came out that many participants from both categories mainly understand the term ‘‘sustainability’’ in its environmental dimension (protection of the nature, fight against climate change or deforestation, waste management, planting trees, ensuring a greener world, etc). It was missing the other dimensions of sustainability and this has led the workshop participants to understand that it is very important that children and youth are knowledgeable about sustainability in all its aspects so that they are able to support this and get actively involved at the end of the day. Without a higher awareness raising action, there are huge risks that young people don’t see the point or importance of getting active in sustainability. Thus the importance of educating citizens – young people included – on sustainable development and sustainability is highly needed in Cameroon if the country want to achieve a cohort of citizens empowered on this notion and topic.

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The workshop also discovered that the expected benefits of the competition on the participants are still far to be achieved and there will be a need for more focused action in a regular basis. If some participants have really shared their personal views (through their drawings) on what they wish for the future of the earth, many didn’t get the right approach or answer to the contest theme. This shows the lack of knowledge or interest on the topic, but also the lack of the educational system in Cameroon to make citizens aware of this topic and knowledgeable about.

In addition to these reflection points, the workshop participants also had an opportunity to evaluate each of the 20 winning entries in order to explore the possible ways they could be used later when the E4S project team in Cameroon would like to enter into a dialogue with the government of Cameroon and other stakeholders. This dialogue which could lead to established discussion about how a reform in the education sector in Cameroon could enable the insertion of education for sustainability topic in the school curricula of the basic and secondary education in order to educate and empower citizens with related skills. It would have been a great opportunity for the participants to also discuss directly with representatives from the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders such as UNESCO National Commission in Cameroon in case they would have attended the talks.

Finally, we are glad to invite you to see all the pictures of this activity and a selection of drawings on our Flickr page. 

15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) first feedbacks

Written by Marianne on . Posted in General Information, India, News, News & Updates

Nektarina Non Profit and its Indian partner Zest Youth Movement attended the 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) from 4th to 7th of February 2015 in New Delhi.

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The first day was dedicated to the High Level Corporate Dialogue under the theme “Delhi to Paris: Corporate Vision on Climate Change”. The main summit “Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change” took place during the three next days, with various plenary sessions, thematic tracks, keynote addresses and other contents.

An extremely rich programme thus! We kept our followers updated on the conference’s progress on our Facebook and Twitter pages during this special week and are in progress of preparing a complete feedback of the experience. In the meantime, here are some comments, outcomes and pictures we are willing to share.

DSDS 15 took place in the framework of the negotiations for the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) that will be held in Paris in December 2015 and of the current process of defining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a set of targets relating to future international development.

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High-level governments’ representatives from all over the world expressed their commitment and willing to reach a serious international agreement on climate change coupled with a strong and fair financial mechanism. The role of businesses and the question of green economy were also widely discussed with major corporates representatives and CEOs. Finally, the tiered role of developed and developing countries and positioning towards the future strategies was debated.

The DSDS was also an important moment to remind India’s role on the regional and international scene on major issues like climate change and sustainable development.

We will come back with more detailed information soon and keep an eye on further progress on these crucial issues.

Please visit our Flickr page to see our entire DSDS photo album.

And our India E4S BROCHURE here.

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