Final Workshop for Energy Crop Project in Hanoi

12. October 2018

On October 11, the final workshop for the project “Cultivation of Energy Crops on former Mining sites in Vietnam (CPEP)” took place in Hanoi. Approximately 50 guests, including many Vietnamese experts from different scientific and political institutions, participated in the event. 15 experts, who all were involved in this complex project, presented the diverse results. A 80 pages report in English and Vietnamese language was published and handled over to the participants of the workshop. The project started in 2015 and is financed by the International Climate Initiative from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

The director of the Department for Administration of the Vietnam Environmental Agency (VEA), Mr. Ho Kiem Trung, highlighted in his opening speech the importance of the project for many specialist departments of the Vietnamese environmental administration. According to his speech, the project contributes effectively to the goals of the Vietnamese Green Growth Strategy and to the implementation of the Paris Agreement in Vietnam. Furthermore, Mr. Trung highlighted the importance of the project for the environmental rehabilitation of mining sites in Vietnam. The mining companies that have been involved in the project, Nui Phao Mining and VINACOMIN, assumed a role as pacemakers for all 4000 mining sites in Vietnam.

Andreas Bieber from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety (BMU) emphasized that the CPEP project was very successful. During the implementation process of the project, many valuable experiences for sustainable and climate-friendly energy crop cultivation in Vietnam were made. Mr. Bieber expressed hope that after the first phase of the project, also a second phase can be implemented in the future.

Already on October 9, a final site-specific workshop took place on one of the project’s pilot sites in the Nui Phao Mine, Thai Nguyen. Here, representatives of the mining company, the University for Agriculture and Forestry of Thai Nguyen, and the provincial environmental administration (DONRE) discussed the site-specific cultivation systems that were implemented within the project.

Further project information

Lawyers from China visited UfU to learn about environmental law in Germany

28. September 2018

In September, a delegation of 20 Chinese judges from the province Heilongjang visited UfU during a study trip to Germany. In UfU they learned and discussed on access to justice and the growing importance of environmental law in Germany. In a two hours event, UfU Director Dr. Michael Zschiesche and UfU employee Anna-Julia Saiger from  the department Environmental Law & Participation answered questions raised by the high court lawyers from China and highlighted that court decisions are an essential part of German constitutional instruments for handling environmentalproblems. This includes both the use of environmental criminal law and lawsuits in the administrative courts, such as the lawsuits of the 300 registered environmental organisations. The lawyers from China were impressed by the diversity of environmental lawsuits at German courts. Also the current case against the use of lignite and the clear-cut of Hambach Forest in Northrhine-Westphalia was part of the following discussion. The event was organised by the Carl Duisberg Centres, a non-profit organisation for international education and human resources development from Cologne. The head of the delegation was Vice President Huaju Li from the Heilongjiang High Peoples Court.

Second Summer School on Climate Change in Central Vietnam

21. August 2018

Which impacts does climate change have on the sea, the coasts, and on regional agriculture in Central Vietnam? How can renewable energy contribute to climate protection and which positive side effects can be reached through climate mitigation measures? These and other questions were the focus of attention during the Second Summer School on Climate Change in Central Vietnam, organised by UfU in cooperation with the Mientrung Institute from the Vietnamese Academy of Sciences. The event was supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation and took place last weekend in the city of Hue, Vietnam.

Approximately 40 participants – young academics and environmental activists with a variety of professional backgrounds – participated in workshops on four different topics: Clamte Change and Oceans, Climate Change and Agriculture, Renewable Energy, and Co-Benefits of Climate Mitigation Measures.

A special highlight were the field trips: The participants visited a coast stretch that is severely affected by impacts of climate change, a restored mangrove forest, an organic garden and an urban gardening project, several renewable energy projects throughout the city, and an eco-friendly tourist company that is active in climate protection.

E-Enhance: Successful realisation of the first series of workshops in Vietnam

06. June 2018

On the first of June 2018 the first series of five workshops with representatives of different societal organisations in Vietnam like women unions, youth organisations, farmers union, local unions, environmental organisations, local authorities, schools and universities ended successfully in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta.

In these training workshops participants received constitutive information regarding the status of the realisation of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in Germany and Vietnam. In addition they experimented with “hands on models“ and preserved further knowledge about practical examples of the implementation in rural and urban areas.

Subsecuently the participants developed own implementation strategies for their regions by using the future workshop methodology. A field trip to the province of An Giang supplemented the workshop in Can Tho in order to visit photovoltaic applications, biogas plants and improved cook stoves. This field trip offered the participants the opportunity to exchange experiences with different users of these technologies.

Further training workshops took place in September 2017 in Hanoi, in January 2017 in Da Nang and in May 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City. The feedback of the participants of all training workshops was very positive.

Out of the five training workshops twenty persons will be identified to participate in a „train the trainer“ workshop in order to implement own seminars in field of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the future.

Further project information

Germany discusses Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

31. May 2018

On 29 May 2018 the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU) e.V. held a workshop on „Sufficient Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Germany?“ („Ausreichender Zugang zu Gericht in Umweltangelegenheiten?“). 22 participants discussed the challenges experienced with regard to access to justice in environmental matters. Amongst them ranked representatives from various environmental associations, representatives of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, laywers, judges and representatives from research and academia.

To begin the workshop, Karl Stracke, UfU, introduced the project and its main goals. Two keynote speeches followed: Prof. Dr. Alexander Schmidt, Hochschule Anhalt presented empirical results on the litigation practice of recognised environmental associations in Germany in the period of 2013-2016. RA Prof. Dr. Remo Klinger, Kanzlei Geulen und Klinger, Berlin, gave account on the current case law on standing in Germany.

During the subsequent discussion chaired by Dr. Michael Zschiesche, UfU, the participants especially identified the following aspects as the main difficulties and obstacles experienced with regard to access to justice in environmental matters in Germany:

After the 2017 amendment of the EAA (Environmental Appeals Act) many environmental issues  remain outside the scope of its application. Those are for example strategic plans that are enacted by the legislator by law, lignite plans and wind energy plans, determination of air routes, annulment or amendment of ordinances on protected areas and product authorisations. Since national jurisprudence on the interpretation of the EAA remained inconsistent, E-NGOs often have to decide not to initiate proceedings due to the unclear admissibility situation. Another problem identified – resulting directly from the 2017 amendment of the EAA – was the newly introduced provision on “abusive or dishonest behaviour in appeal proceedings” (§ 5 EAA). Its unclear wording and the lack of any explanation of the underlying motivation posed an obstacle in many proceedings.

Another major challenge was seen in the immense costs for expert reports for judicial proceedings. And it was highlighted that standing in environmental matters for individuals is too restrictive and very limited under German procedural law.

The event was the kick-off workshop to the project „Access to Justice for a Greener Europe“, facilitated by the EU-LIFE programme.

Change the grounds: Project meeting in Edinburgh

11. May 2018

The second exchange meeting of all partners for the project “Change the grounds – Transforming spaces for outdoor activities” took place in Edinburgh from 23th to 24th April. The participants discussed mainly about the first draft of the handbook that comprised teacher’s approach to schoolyards. For the ERASMUS + project, three European environmental organizations are working together: Strom zivota from Slovakia, learning through landscapes from the UK and the Independent Institute for the Environmental issues from Germany. The aim of the project is to support teachers in re-designing schoolyards and to further involve natural playgrounds in their curriculum. In the first week of June, the UfU organizes a teacher training course, in which around 20 teachers from the project partner countries will participate.

Energy crops on post-mining sites in Vietnam: First results discussed in Hanoi

20. April 2018

In April 2018, UfU and a delegation of the German Environmental Ministry (BMU) met for a workshop in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Hanoi with representatives of the CPEP project partners, including MSP, the Vietnam Environmental Administration, Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, the Vietnam Land Science Association, and the mining companies Nui Phao and Vinacomin, the operators of the mines where the project’s pilot plantations of energy crops were implemented.

In the workshop the project partners discussed preliminary results from the three project sites, where the cultivation  of energy crops was tested, exchanged lessons learned, and provided an outlook on the planned work during the remaining project duration.

Due to the project’s promising results and the potential for similar activities in Vietnam, the project partners expressed their support for an extension of the project in order to validate the collected data in long term investigations, and for the further implementation of the generated knowledge on the interrelations between climate protection and the cultivation of energy crops on post-mining sites in Vietnam.

Further project information

UfU publication about the registration of contaminated sites in Vietnam

16. February 2018

Contaminated soils and water are among the most critical environmental issues in Vietnam. With the projects AnaViet and CapaViet, UfU supports Vietnamese authorities in the registration of contaminated sites. Within the two projects, experts from Northern Vietnam have been trained in the use of mobile X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometers for the analysis and registration of heavy metals in soils. At the practically oriented workshops, first experiences in the on-spot-analysis of contaminated sites through mobile XRF have been gained.

The functionality and correct use of mobile XRF, as well as its potential uses and its limitations are now summarized in the English brochure „Utilization of Portable X-Ray Fluorescence-Spectrometers for the Registration of Contaminated Sites in Vietnam“. The free document can be downloaded here.

Workshop on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Da Nang, Vietnam

26. January 2018

The third workshop on the UfU-project E-Enhance took place from 01/24 – 01/26/2018 in Da Nang, Vietnam. In cooperation with GreenID, Florian Kliche from UfU led the workshop on the topics of renewable energy and energy efficiency, where 40 participants were able to work intensively and successfully on their own projects that they plan to implement later in their home provinces.

Kick off in Bratislava: New Project "Change the Grounds"

29. November 2017

The kick off meeting for the new project “Change the Grounds – Transforming spaces for learning activities” funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union took place in Bratislava. UfU  and its cooperating partners Strom zivota (Slovakia), INAK (Slovakia) and Learning through Landscapes (UK) shared ideas on the matter of outdoor learning and how teachers can implement these learning activities in the curriculum across countries in Europe. A manual and an online guide will be developed for the implementation of outdoor learning activities in schoolyards and surrounding green spaces. In order to give teachers new inspirations how they can creatively incorporate the natural conditions on-site into their lesson planning, a set of inspirations across school subjects will be developed. These inspirations will be the basis for using schoolyards or nearby public spaces more creatively in an educational context and encouraging children to explore and creatively acquire spaces.