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‘Green Roads’ team from South America wins the Hands-on Project on Sustainability

From 11 September to 12 October 2013, a virtual hands-on project on sustainability was carried out on the Alumniportal Deutschland as part of our focus topic ‘Sustainable Development’, which confronted 16 teams from four continents with considerable challenges. Three alumni from South America won over the jury with their detailed research, creative future scenarios and a successful video production.

The hands-on project on sustainability involved four tasks in all: virtual team building, researching a specific topic and writing two future scenarios, producing a video and finally, finding supporters on the Alumniportal. The topics addressed included climate change and flood protection, sustainability of urban transport, urban agriculture, sustainable tourism in protected areas, and biodiversity in rural areas.

Successful participants in the hands-on project on sustainability

The winning team ‘Green Roads’ came up with a convincing solution for sustainable urban transport in South America, which was well founded and creative. The team focused on the crisis of gridlocked roads in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. For their scenarios, the three alumni devised two fictional radio interviews about the city’s traffic situation. The jury found these convincing, both for their form and for their content. They also produced their video to a very high technical and visual standard. As a voluntary additional product, the group also drew up a document containing ideas for how the positive future scenario might be achieved. The Alumniportal congratulates Irma Yadira Gámez from Honduras, Andrés Felipe Caballero from Colombia, and Robert Baumgartner from Peru on their first prize.

In second place came the ‘Nagri-Agri’ team, consisting of Anjali Sinha and Dilip Kumbham in India, with their contribution to urban self-sufficiency. The winners of third prize were a group calling themselves ‘e-merging ideas’, based in India and Argentina. They were Federico Biesing, Regina Ruete and Pradeep Singh and their work was in the field of green tourism.

The winning team ‘Green Roads’ from South America

Difficult team building, creative future scenarios

When it came to team building, nearly all the groups had problems to overcome. These included differences in time zones, communications problems and technical hurdles. The core activity was to develop the trend and future scenarios required for the project. These extrapolated the existing problem situations, or projected possible positive developments, up to 2033. The jury was very impressed by the variety of these scenarios.

There were personal testimonies, such as that of the fictional Mr López who, walking through his village after climate change and water shortages, hardly recognises the place. As well as the fictitious interviews, letters and radio features, there were also more factually based scenarios that assessed the future with scientific precision. The future of an African village, for instance, which suffers from drought as a consequence of failures at the political level; or which, in its alternative scenario, looks to a better future after adapting successfully to climate change and solving many of its environmental and developmental problems.

The winners visit Berlin for a climate study tour

Early in 2014, the South American winning team will travel to Berlin, where they will take part in a study trip for international climate protection grant-holders of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The team members will have an opportunity to exchange ideas with prominent people working in the field of sustainability. The group will participate in some elements of the programme and will also present the results of their hands-on project. The study trip is being organised by the Humboldt Foundation, in cooperation with the ‘Centre for International Postgraduate Studies of environmental management’ (CIPSEM) of the Technical University (TU) Dresden.

The second and third-placed teams can choose between either an e-learning course on a sustainability topic, or an online voucher for a computer program, such as Photoshop or MS Office.

Hands-on project on sustainability: an expert jury of scientists and journalists

An expert jury of scientists and journalists assessed the contributions according to criteria previously agreed with the Alumniportal team. The jury consisted of Prof. Martina Schäfer, Deputy Director of the Centre for Technology and Society at the TU Berlin, Prof. Einhard Schmidt-Kallert, social geographer and professor with the Faculty of Spatial Planning at the TU Dortmund, and Prof. Torsten Schäfer, environmental journalist and professor of writing at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt.

The project enjoyed the patronage of the German Council for Sustainable Development, which was represented by its Secretary General, Dr Günther Bachmann. The Council was set up by the German Government in April 2001. Its membership consists of 15 figures from German public life.

The Alumniportal team wishes to congratulate all the teams that took part for the great effort they put in – and above all, of course, the winning teams!

November 2013

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