On Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd September the ESD Leadership Training group traveled north to the state of Mecklenburg (one of the ‘poorer’ German Federal States) to learn how ESD is being implemented in order to help the economic, ecological and social situation of the region. A number of talks and presentations provided a theoretical background to the issues within Mecklenburg and tours and demonstrations were used to show this in action.
The first stop on the field trip was the Solar Center in Wietow where the participants were given a background to the region of Mecklenburg including demographics and key issues. The group were also treated to a video on the topic of climate change and used this to show how sustainable energy forms need to be exploited in the form of renewable energy for the environmental situation as well as keeping money within the state whilst increasing social well-being. The group were then were taken around the new green house and the three regional climates within it. Prior to this a Scientific demonstration was given to show of the power of solar energy. This was then used for the rest of the term as he aimed to show how solar power would be key for the future of the state. The center was certainly a good example of how education can be used to communicate the need to implement more sustainable energy in to areas similar to Mecklenburg.
After the group were introduced to the use of renewables in the state, the next stop was to see how ESD was being used within the School system of Mecklenburg and this was done by visiting an Environmental school. The headmaster of Fritz-Greve Gymnasium was able to give a short talk on how the school takes the environmental into account and has been implementing this into the curriculum. Also how the social side of sustainable development could be communicated to the students. He then answered questions from the participants and discussed how the lack of prosperity in the state was making ESD difficult in Schools but most teachers in the school were enthusiastic about the issues.
The evening of Thursday certainly showed how the field trip was not only a great method of learning for the participants but also an effective for team building and cultural exchanges. A fantastic dinner was prepared and afterwards Birgit Brenner (a renowned expert in Environmental Education and ESD) gave a summary of her work in ESD and the group were told of how they would encounter Dr Brenner later in the leadership training. For the Remainder of the evening, the participants greatly enjoyed a night of music from each of the countries involved on the training. They were treated to a number of African, Indian, Mexican, German, Polish, Austrian and even an Irish song (sang beautifully) and helped to bring the group closer and was an effective method of showing the cultural diversity within the course.
After a good nights sleep the participants were on the road around 10am and the first stop on Friday morning was to a vocational training school to get a talk on the integration of ESD into vocational training. The main issue discussed here was the need to keep young professionals in the region of Mecklenburg and to bring back those who had already left to find work in the more urban areas of Germany. There has been a decline of young people applying for places in the school which means there are now many vacancies. The group were told of how Mecklenburg was strong in terms of health, tourism and agricultural sectors and that there was a plan in place for the state to become a leader in renewable energy. Therefore lots of work has been done to ensure ESD has and can be integrated into the system.
Lunch time was interesting for the group as the meal led to a short discussion on food sustainability with Jan Dieminger (Federal agency for Geology and Protection of the Environment) who explained the matter of energy needed for the production of meet compared to fish. This was then linked to ESD as he aimed to show how there are many barriers in the way of getting points across. The participants then got a presentation from Dr Peter Adolphi who discussed the work of the Academy for Sustainable Development in MV and gave a foundations opinion into ESD in the State. One main issue he discussed was that of locally grown food being used in Schools and the projects in place to encourage this. This was a topic which was extended in the last stop on the trip in Bollewick which is a bioenergy-village where people work together to create a more sustainable community in terms of food and energy especially. It is important to educated the farmers of the region on renewable energy possibilities and in Bollewick this has been done via biogas plant installations.
As already mentioned the field trip was beneficial to the participants in that much was learnt form the experience and to actually witness how an entire region is working hard to create a better, more sustainable and more effluent region through ESD. The entire 2 days was good in terms of capacity building and team building and along side the first half of the week in Berlin it has set up the participants well for the rest of their training course. The trip was very well organized by the consortium and carried out well so that the group could get so much out of it and has excited the participants about what is still to come.
A face book page has now been set up for the participants to share information and media etc and it can be accessed from http://www.facebook.com/groups/180003338742675/