For four years, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) has been supporting the scholarship programme of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with the aim of enabling young professionals from developing countries and emerging economies to carry out research in Germany on the topics of climate change mitigation and resource protection. After this year's certificates of completion were presented, we talked with three of the sixteen participants. Daniela Caldeira from Brazil studied sub-national policy rules on the use of rainwater; Elyor Alimardonov from Uzbekistan applied global climate change simulations to hydraulic processes; and Jiang Shan from China researched corporate sustainability strategy of Chinese and German multinational companies.
Jiang Shan: Building on my former experience as corporate sustainability officer in a Chinese state owned enterprise I intended to gain more expertise with regard to corporate sustainability management. Sustainability management schemes in German companies, which often result due to advanced environmental policies, serve as blue prints for other countries. In certain ways my home country China may learn as an emerging economy from this model. Besides my professional view, I feel personally very attached to Germany due to my former studies in Hamburg. Many professors there and other contacts I have made at GIZ gave me confidence and encouraged me to submit an application.
Alimardonov: Surprisingly my motivation stems from results of an IPCC report. Since I am Uzbek and studied water resource engineering, I came across a graph that illustrates the water situation in the Central Asian region in 2100 for a business-as-usual scenario compared to 1980. According to the results, some mountain regions there are going to face a 4-degree temperature rise and higher precipitation rates, which in turn leads to tremendous problems for agriculture. These scientific findings really got me thinking. I came to the conclusion that decision makers, particularly in Uzbekistan, still lack detailed information regarding technical solutions for climate change adaptation. There is furthermore a need for better coordination between upstream and downstream water utilization among countries in the Central Asian region. Therefore, I decided to deepen my knowledge in Germany with the hope of being able to solve such problems afterwards.
Caldeira: Since 2004 I have been working for the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in the water management agency. As a project manager I have been involved in the implementation of new sustainable water management technologies to address climate variability. After eight years we observed improvements up to a certain extent, but still faced many challenges. I was thus curious how German public authorities are dealing with new scientific findings when it comes to water treatment schemes.
Jiang Shan: Starting with empirical research seminars and moving to climate policy lectures, the whole Programme has been very useful. Two elements I would like to highlight: interactivity and flexibility. At all collaborating German institutions the participants were involved in intense discussions with practitioners. In terms of flexibility, I highly appreciated the European research scheme offered by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which enabled me to conduct a part of my research at the University of Zurich in parallel to the official programme schedule in Germany. This cooperation was very fruitful for my research.
Alimardonov: I really appreciated the technical training programmes organized by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), the Center for International Postgraduate Studies in Environmental Management (CIPSEM) and the Renewables Academy AG (RENAC). We learned a lot from German environmental legislation with regard to renewable energy applications, waste management schemes and nature conservation areas, which provided very interesting options for the development of policies in my own country. Many technical excursions, but also cross-cultural activities deeply enriched my staying in Germany.
Caldeira: I totally agree with my fellows and would like to emphasize the importance of the CIPSEM training course for my future career. The lecturers there introduced us to a certain type of eco-system based adaptation that is especially feasible for the prevalent conditions in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. This training has clarified some points which were crucial to redefine my research concept. Now I am more strongly focusing on ecosystem-based approaches with regard to flash flood and river flood management. I have also been stimulated by the flood policy from Baden-Württemberg, where I have accomplished the field study.
Jiang Shan: I am really committed to the slogan 'once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian', which means that I will remain in close contact with all the fellows and professors involved in the Programme. I have managed to significantly extend my German network related to the topic of sustainable development. Thanks to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Federation of German Industry (BDI). I met German experts from a range of companies and institutions, such as the German Council for Sustainable Development and the Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business (econsense). Another huge asset represents the Humboldt Foundation Network, and particularly the social media platform for alumni. Such a network will serve as a backbone for my future career, where I intend to strengthen the linkages between Chinese and German multinational companies in the field of corporate sustainability. This includes services related to capacity building for Chinese companies, but also to facilitating the integration of corporate sustainability in strategies and business operations for multinational investors.
Alimardonov: With regard to networking, the fellows are currently discussing the establishment of a non-profit organisation, which will be registered in Germany, to provide consultancy services for local organisations in our home countries. Looking at the history of the International Climate Protection Fellowship our initiative is unique. In addition I will set up my own consultancy company once I return to Uzbekistan to make use of all the expertise and contacts I gained during the Programme.
Caldeira: In Brazil I will continue working with water management, especially supporting the process of developing a new agenda for water management and urban planning that concentrates in the future even more strongly on climate variability and change. Since the state government plans to enhance data collection and increase knowledge with regard to climate change in collaboration with other public agencies and universities, the ties I have established with organisations in Germany will be particularly helpful, especially the University of Freiburg and Dresden.