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Implementing agreements during negotiation

by Yongbei Li, Singapore, ELP 2014
Written on July 20, 2014.

The most impressive workshop for me during Week 2 was the Collaborative Leadership for Sustainable Change, presented by Susan Carpenter. According to Susan, a successful collaborative leader should be one with good communication and negotiation skills. More importantly, he/she needs to be clear about the personality of his/her counterpart so that he/she is able to know how to work with his/her counterpart and achieve their goals at the end of the day.

We learned how to better understand our personality temperaments and deal with conflicts and contradictions during the three-day workshop. At the end of the workshop, we held a mock negotiation session about reaching an agreement on protecting the environment as well as ensuring profits for local citizens. This was my favorite session so far. I played the role of a poacher and managed to negotiate with NGOs, park managers and environmental companies to secure my own right, making a living by receiving a subsidy and agreeing to stop poaching in return. Of course, all of us reached consensus after experiencing a long, tough negotiation. However, it is always much more difficult for both parties and governments to reach agreements in practice.

Governments and organizations have endeavored to cope with the global challenge of climate change for many years. We have the United Nations Climate Change Conferences (UNCCC), which are held yearly to assess the process in dealing with climate change since mid-1990s. The main focus of the conference lately has been to engage countries in reducing greenhouse gases to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above current levels1. The conferences highlighted the urgent need to raise the ‘Clean Energy Fund’ up to $100 billion USD by 2020 to help developing countries with technology support and clean energy, whereas developing countries have to cut emissions correspondingly. Although some consensus was reached and all countries agreed to accelerate the process of raising funds and emitting greenhouse gases, it cannot be denied that there is still a long way to go for all the countries to keep their promises and take the agreement seriously. Developing green economy means that countries have to resist the temptation of boosting economies by using cheap energy that increases pollution, which is obviously not what governors hope to see. In China, for instance, the implementation of the ‘Green GDP Accounting System’2 was hard to put into practice. Firstly, it is hard to measure the value of environmental factors. It is not easy for the authorities to subtract the value of environmental damage from the total national income3. Moreover, monitoring the process of calculation is a challenging task, with figures and statistics that may not be reliable. Nevertheless, there are still efforts in fighting pollution in some parts of China, such as limiting car purchases and replacing petrol, diesel oil with bio-ethanol. We are heading towards a more sustainable future, though the process is slow and full of obstacles.

Hence, the most difficult part of negotiation is to implement agreement. To address this issue, we can develop a detailed implementation plan and do a progress report to ensure that everyone has kept their word and taken their own responsibility. The implementation can be more effective if everyone has realized the devastating effect of global warming and the importance of slowing down the pursuit of economic benefits, while putting environmental issues into the first place.

2Green gross domestic product

Agriculture practices and Environmental impacts: lessons from surveys and public health preservation in Senegal

by Mountaga Dia, Senegal, ELP 2014
Written on July 22, 2014.

Among major public health challenges, facing environmental issues will be a serious concern in Senegal. Late perception of risks due to weak partnership between health practitioners and environmental sector stakeholders has led to the absence of primary conversations. Findings of a multiregional survey focused on the use of pesticides in agriculture in six West African countries confirmed the necessity of preventive interventions.

Farmers and occasional agriculture practitioners have very low understanding or misunderstanding of the use of pesticides; this generates dangerous practices in terms of respect of delay between last application and harvest and spread of pesticides in water sources and environment.

The high burden of potential generated disease has become a big concern in terms of public health, with a lack of follow up of final destination of potential environmental contaminants.

Improving the common public and authorities’ perception of the dangers and necessity of prevention interventions are ways of urgent and efficient response.

Skilled counselors are also useful for accompanying farmers to resort to pesticides less. Public societies in charge of farmer supervision are waiting to develop a holistic approach of prevention instead of looking for solutions after damages.

Prospective vision and better learning and use of previous experiences would allow more efficient programs of prevention of dangerous practices exposing farmers and their families to long-term poisoning.

Training political leaders and decision makers should help for implementation of collaborative process to tackle dispersal of complementary actors. In fact several institutions dealing with environmental issues would make a difference when they work closely and share knowledge.

Lessons from results of investigation on quality of international waters (Senegal and Niger Rivers) should be the beginning of cooperation at the regional level.

Involvement of communities in the process of data collection and analysis helped for better sharing of results. These communities are waiting for preventive programs for reduction of water born diseases and pollution.

Environmental education is a way to improve citizen commitment for environment preservation. People in scholar settings (primary schools teachers and pupils) and other community components. i.e. women and farmers’ associations, seem to be first level partners and so an approach to reach them needs to be developed.

University of Bambey, through the department of Sustainable Development should indicate a way of collaboration to authorities, several other stakeholders i.e. CSE, ISRA of Bambey, ISFAR, University of Saint Louis and SAED.

Kind of College of Natural Resources appears as pertinent response to that challenge and would combine the advantages of a better use of low financial resource availability.

Comparison Between Cross Cultural Differences in Waste Management

by Altangerel Bat-Erdene, Mongolia, ELP 2014

Where I come from, waste is the last thing that comes to people’s minds. Almost 70% of total waste is compostable but people don’t bother composting or using it for other purposes. Composting may probably be the last thing that comes to your mind if you are living in an extremely harsh climate. Even so, during the last 4 years, our compostable waste has tripled in the volume. Let me give you some brief information about the waste situation in Ulaanbaatar.

Waste management issues are mainly sorting and recycling in Ulaanbaatar. Apparently people don’t care about waste recycling and its volume problem in the future. Environmental concerns regarding waste issues are essential difficulties in the city council. Unfortunately, a real mechanism of waste management is still lacking behind the long-term solution. Good planning and strong enforcement is needed for both administration and social implementation to properly deal with waste management.

On the other hand, San Francisco has started its solid waste management program based on the ambitious “Goal of zero waste by 2020”. To make sure that no material goes to landfill, the city’s zero waste goal means that products are designed and used according to the principle of highest and best use. Zero Waste also means that discarded materials follow the waste reduction: reduce, reuse, and then recycle or compost.

To meet its zero waste goal, San Francisco has used a three-pronged approach that addresses the legal, administrative, and social challenges of waste management reform. The San Francisco City Administration performs strong waste reduction policies, such as the innovation of new programs and creation of a culture of recycling and composting. For example, UC Berkeley has reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills over the last two decades. The campus municipal solid waste (MSW) diversion rates have remained below 50%, even though the campus is trying to reach zero waste by 2020. The amount of solid waste sent to landfills by the campus went down by 4% last year, and has dropped by 28% since 1995. Facts show that UC Berkeley is successfully creating a culture aimed at reduction towards zero waste in the long term.

Therefore, I understand ambitious goals can be fulfilled with good management and appropriate planning for long-term success. Many factors should be taken into consideration such as waste minimization, waste removal, waste transportation, waste treatment, recycling and reuse, storage, collection, transportation, treatment, landfill disposal, financial and marketing aspects, policy and regulations, education and training.

However, some questions still remain:
How do I transfer this technology into my city?
What are the main principles of this success?
Was it just a highly educated society or was it good management?
What are the secrets of sudden success?

Maybe I need to study and learn more about the UC Berkeley behavior change.

The First Step of a Thousand Miles towards Environmental Governance

by Lwin Maung Maung Swe, Myanmar, ELP 2014
Written on July 20, 2014.

lwin 1In Myanmar, natural resources are degrading at a record pace as a result of extractive industries, which have been increasingly occurring in the country since the democratic transition in 2010. Even though much has been highlighted about socially responsible business for all investments, these business interests and government priorities in economic development have imposed threats to environmental sustainability. Furthermore, the existing regulatory framework and capacity are too weak to monitor and regulate all of these interests and developments. Therefore, to have a valid and realistic regulatory framework of environmental and social impact assessment has become “A Must” to steer civil society-led environmental monitoring for the environmental sustainability in Myanmar. Moreover, there is not a proper and adequate inventory of its environmental situation to this date in Myanmar. Therefore, EcoDev, a leading environmental organization, has introduced the Environmental Report Card System (ERC), to make a regular environmental assessment by empowering the citizens and enhancing the public participation at all levels of the civil society-led environmental monitoring.

Environmental Report Card
lwin 2ERC is a tool which is designed to determine and outlook the state of the country’s natural resources (Forest, Biodiversity, Land, Water, Air) based on people’s perceptions, and also to evaluate the performance of local authorities and government departments on how seriously they are undertaking the improvement of the State of Environment (SOE) in given jurisdictional areas. The idea of ERC is based on Environmental Performance Assessment Tools like DPSIR Framework (Driver, Pressure, State, Impact and Response), but by adapting it to the different localities of Myanmar (hereby adding a pillar like Public Participation) to conduct environmental monitoring across the country. Every single pillar is reinforced by the indicators, which were developed in a participatory manner in order to collect the perception index of the people on environmental status in their surroundings.

Where we are
To date, EcoDev can facilitate to have the environmental statuses assessed using the ERC in 60 out of 330 townships in Myanmar. By doing so, community-led environmental monitoring systems could be initiated in those townships. Accordingly, the ERC, the platform for any citizens to explore their experiences and to claim their rights, has given a chance to all citizens to exercise democratic practices by participating in the group discussion.

As a very first year of the ERC implementation, there have been many weaknesses. Some of the major challenges are:

  1. Methodological weakness – The ERC relies particularly on the Complex Procedures (Group Discussion, Participatory Scoring, Calculating the Average Scores and Providing the Anecdotal Explanation).
  2. Comprehensiveness vs. reliability -There are 6 pillars altogether, which are in turn comprised of different indicators. To have a proper balance between the comprehensiveness and the reliability is a challenge.
  3. Too much dependency on peoples’ perception – Currently, the ERC has a serious weakness in scientific validity. On the other hand, ERC relies too much on the perceptions of the people in the survey areas.

The Way forward
lwin 3The First Myanmar’s Environmental Outlook for 2012-2013 could be published based on the data resulted from the assessment; all the more so because there were many weaknesses in the ERC implementation. This Environmental Outlook will be updated every year by highlighting the major environmental problems and threats in the report, while the ERC is being gradually rolled out over the country to promote the democratic practices in the ground by giving all citizens a chance to participate and explore their opinions at all levels of ERC implementation. This is the first step of a thousand miles. However, we do believe that keeping on moving with the current momentum will help us achieve not only the objectives of the ERC but also ensure the resource rights of the peoples for the sustainable development of Myanmar by giving them a playing field for democratic practices.
lwin 4

An Interview with Annibeth Melo Jacob

by Akiko Segawa, Japan, ELP 2014
Written on July 14, 2014.

Hi, I’m Akiko Segawa from the University of Tokyo. I’m really enjoying classes at Berkeley with 37 professionals and seven colleagues of IARU-GSP. Today, I’d like to introduce Annibeth Melo Jacob’s work.

About the work
Anni is working for Panasonic Corporation, a Japanese multinational electronics corporation, as an environmental engineer. Panasonic has three factories in Brazil to manufacture batteries, audios, TCs, cordless phones, cameras, refrigerators, washing machines and so on. Each factory has one person who is responsible for the environmental management. She is working with them to improve the efficiency of energy consumption and to gain ISO certifications. Since 2010, she has been involved with a project to create a “take-back system” for end-of-life electronic products, because the Brazilian government requests the implementation of a take-back system in a logistic: National Policy of Solid Waste for Brazil. She and Panasonic started the project with batteries. The difficulty was in creating a way to collect the treat end-of-use batteries from all over the country, since there is only one waste treatment facility for batteries in Brazil’s extensive territory. An association to collect and treat batteries was founded together by Panasonic and three other battery manufacturers to solve this problem. Now 17 companies are affiliated with it. It started to work successfully, although there is still a problem in the treatment of batteries that are imported or manufactured by companies that don’t belong to the association.

Now she is focusing on how to apply this system for batteries to other end-of-life electronic products, and how to engage companies to invest in environmental, social and economical sustainability issues. This is a very challenging job, not only because of the variety of products (size, materials, etc.) and insufficient infrastructure, but because of the low environmental awareness of retailers and consumers.

Three pilot campaigns were done to implement the system to the whole country, and she learned how different the responses were in each case. In one city, she got seven tons of recyclable waste in a week, but in another city, she only got 500 kg, despite advertisements and TV commercials. The understanding of the importance of recycling is very different from city to city. She also found that education is important in making a satiable system. She is tackling these problems to achieve the goal: to recycle 17% of their production.

Her passion is making a difference in her country. Since her family is originally form an island in Portugal, where water and other resources were limited, it is quite natural for her to save energy and limit resource consumption. However, people in Brazil are generally unconscious of the importance of recycling because of abundant resources. I believe her work can change their minds.

For University Students
The following is three pieces of advice from Anni:

  1. Internships are good opportunities to see the difference between real industry and academia. It might be more challenging and you can get a practical experience.
  2. Management classes are also very useful because learning how to plan or organize things will help you some way in your life.
  3. In field works, listen from not only managers, but also all the people who you are involved with. Don’t judge people based on their education level. Everyone has some history or experience that you can learn from. Learn from everyone and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Currently, I am studying chemical engineering and belong to a laboratory where we are designing both industrial process systems and social systems, such as plastic recycling systems. So her experience was very interesting and motivated me. I’ll keep in mind her advice: Learn from everyone. Actually, I learned a lot from you Anni, thank you for the great story!

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