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Global Ideas Reporter | Ideas

The tricky job of hammering out a climate wishlist

The first World Youth Sustainability concluded in Berlin recently. It brought together over 150 young people from 31 countries who met policymakers and experts to talk about how their dream of a more sustainable, equitable world could be realized. Two young participants, Anne-Sophie Risse and Teresa Thalmaier, describe their experiences at the tightly-packed summit.

Anne-Sophie Risse, youthinkgreen-Team Osnabrück:

Friday, May 17 – Day seven of our first World Youth Sustainability Summit. Off to an early start – my alarm rings at 6 a.m. It’s not so unusual really since I get up at that hour anyway during a normal school week. But yesterday was a long day. We spent the whole day at the Pariser Platz in central Berlin for our Tree of Hope project. It’s made of trash and has pages bearing the wishes, demands, hopes and requests from us and from other people addressed to lawmakers, governments and people around the world.

Now, early Friday morning, it’s our job to hand over the Tree of Hope to German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier. We – that is 160 young people from 31 countries – arrive at the ministry at 8 a.m. We’d come together in Berlin to draft a document expressing what we want to policymakers, business and society. Our meeting with Altmaier lasts just 15 minutes.

In order to get a solid understanding of some of the issues that made it into the document, we’ve been listening to daily talks by various experts on climate change and other topics. Today, it’s the turn of renowned climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. We head to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to hear him speak. He’s very competent and understanding and begins his talk by saying “I’ll wake you up when something important comes up!” In addition to several interesting facts on climate change, I take away this impression from the talk – if there’s an acute, common problem then even nations that are sworn enemies can manage to work together.

I wonder if things have to go that far. With that thought, we head to the next workshop “Climate change – an intergenerational problem.” Carl-Friedrich Schleußner is the expert in this case and says that people need to live in such a way so that life for successive generations is at least just as good. It’s a topic you can discuss forever. So that the day doesn’t end on too  theoretical a note, we’re shown videos by the “ClimateMediaFactory.org” – the world as a user of a network dubbed “Earthbook.” The videos were really well done.

Teresa Thalmaier, youthinkgreen-Team Windhoek:

After absorbing so many new impressions, faces, fascinating lectures and different cultures, we headed to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

“If you thought the last few days were grueling, then you’d better get prepared for something really tough today. But that’s what you’ll take home with you, something you can be proud of.” That’s how Helmut Spiering, the project founder of youthinkgreen, welcomed us.

Another two long hours to go before lunch. Initially, we sat in groups of maximum ten young people and racked our brains – what do we actually want? What needs to change? How can we shape our world in a more sustainable manner? How can you achieve that aim?

It sounds easier than it is. How do you formulate things that are politically correct and still compelling? But we weren’t the only ones struggling with the problem. After another discussion in a smaller circle, further groups were created. Now four larger with 40 members each worked on their wish lists. Exhausted, we dragged ourselves off to lunch to recharge our batteries. We all really needed it!

But the tough part was still to come. We were asked to discuss the four wish lists from all the groups and to combine then. We – 160 young people from 31 countries – sat excitedly in a large conference room. There were so many different cultures and languages represented. But all that wasn’t meant to hinder us.

The most difficult part often was formulating the document. Often, our statements weren’t concrete enough, at times superfluous – though there were really good ideas behind them. We gained a deep insight into how a parliament works, how politics is done on an international stage. At the end, we had our final document. It’s unbelievable what we achieved in the last weeks and I’m happy to be a part of the youthinkgreen family!

Date

May 21, 2013

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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

Urban paradise under threat

Germany’s most famous urban garden is attracting hundreds of visitors each week. The farmers from the “Prinzessinnengarten” fear that the city of Berlin might be selling their plot soon. This would be the end of an exceptional ecological urban project.

In our GLOBAL IDEAS audio-slideshow founder Marco Clausen shows us around the Prinzessinnengarten:

Gardening goes guerilla in Berlin from DW_Global Ideas on Vimeo.

Money versus Vegetables
At the moment it is highly unsure, if the success story of the Prinzessinnengarten is going to be still around in 2014. The garden’s rental contract ends at the end of 2013. A spokesperson of the Berlin city council (“Senatsverwaltung für Finanzen”) told GLOBAL IDEAS that negotiations for a new contract are currently “ongoing”.

But the urban farmers are fearing that the city of Berlin will be selling off their plot to the most bidding party rather than setting up a new contract with them. Since new stores, an office space for freelancers and artists and a hotel chain have settled close to the Prinzessinnengarten, the area around Kreuzberg’s Moritzplatz got more and more popular with property prices rising. According to a spokesperson of the city’s own Property Fund, negotiations with investors looking at buying the formerly vacant plot have already been made.

Whilst the council of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the communal political body, promised to be supportive of the project trying to help conserve it, the final decision lies in the hands of the city of Berlin. At the end of the day it will be mayor Klaus Wowereit and his government who will have to decide about the  Prinzessinnengarten’s future.

Let it grow!
To stop the sell-out of the Prinzessinnengarten, Marco and his co-founders started the campaign “Let it grow”. In an open letter to the city of Berlin they are demanding to prolong the rental contract for another five years. If the city does not agree, Marco and his team will have to leave the plot at the end of next year.

You can sign the open letter to the Berlin senate on the homepage of the Prinzessinnengarten.

Date

October 12, 2012

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sumisom | Ideas

How did you celebrate Earth Day?

Earth Day was on Sunday, April 22nd, – a day to raise awareness about our planet and the growing threat of climate change. Organizers say more than 1 billion people across the planet took part! Celebrations across the globe marked the day, and the Earth Day Network says it collected more than 1 billion “Acts of Green,” or pledges to help the environment. From exhibitions to concerts to tree planting and cleaning up rivers and roads around the world, the young and old alike pitched in.

What was your act of green?

Date

April 23, 2012

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Klaus Esterluß | Reporter's Log

Chopper Madness

Juan Zacarias always carries a camera with him. He keeps his eyes open for the next great shot and is continuously taking pictures. I was glad to have him on board for shooting my report at a sewage plant in Nicaragua. Out of the blue we got a chance to take a helicopter flight over the area with the plant and the amazing lakes surrounding it. Juan was thrilled. The weather was great when we took off. The chopper took us over Lake Managua which is bigger than we imagined. Heading south-west, we flew along Rio Tipitatpa, where Lake Managua connects with Lake Nicaragua in what is the largest contiguous reservoir for drinking water in Central America. It could have been a perfect day, but as the flight progressed the wind got stronger. Too strong for some of us. Sick bags became very handy. Finally, with solid ground under our feet again, I thought to myself, that I liked the view very much – but next time I would definitely prefer a windless day.

Date

March 15, 2012

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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

Tiny gardens for your window

Volet végétal from Nicolas Barreau on Vimeo.

If you live in a big city or even a megacity, in high apartement buildings, you are certainly aware, that these cities never have enough public green spaces. But there is help. If you need a green view to lift up your mood, or you just want to grow some tomatoes, than you will find the idea in the video above interesting. The Paris based designers Barre & Charbonnet have build a small garden-like construction, that you could use either way, inside or outside the rooms. The idea is to create a “micro-habitat” and to “reinterprete the hanging gardens”, the designers say on their homepage.  Besides: You will have always a green horizon.

Date

March 2, 2012

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