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Economy and Education

3.2 International environmental education – safeguarding our future through knowledge and co-operation

International environmental education – safeguarding our future through knowledge and co-operation

Education is an important aspect of many of the water management projects supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The aim is to inform different target groups about new or established processes and technologies as well as important aspects of water management, thus raising awareness of the importance of our sustainable and environmentally sound use of the resource water. Another important aspect is the training and education of local project partners: if initiatives in countries outside Germany are to be successful in the long term, they must be continued independently upon project completion.

To simply regard international environmental education as an instrument of acute environmental protection would be short-sighted: it also represents an essential tool in the fight against poverty in developing and emerging countries. The programmes funded by the BMBF are thus in tune with the United Nations Decade of “Education for Sustainable Development” (2005 to 2014).

Projects with strong educational value also create a sustainable basis for international co-operation in regions with scarce water resources and help to strengthen the position of the German water industry by opening up new markets. Last but not least, such initiatives also build the international reputation of Germany as a centre of science and technology.

Programmes for global knowledge exchange

The disciplines of environmental protection and sustainable development are highly reliant on the continuous advancement of theoretical and practical knowledge. Germany can look back on many years of environmental and sustainability research and thus has both an opportunity and a duty to share its extensive technological and planning expertise with the rest of the world. Just one example of this is the project “Introduction of a German post-graduate course for environmental sciences in China”, which was successfully completed in 2008. In 1999, the longstanding water technology co-operation between the BMBF and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) also saw the creation of the “Young Scientists Exchange Program” (YSEP) with the aim of motivating young scientists to participate in this international cooperation. The YSEP is primarily geared towards graduates, PhD students and post-docs and offers research stays of up to six months at partner institutions in Germany or Israel. As part of the German-Israeli co-operation, over 100 research projects have been completed over the last few years. Developed in conjunction with numerous European universities, the study module “Integrated Flood Risk Management” (FLOODmaster) and its e-learning component are also suitable for specialists who wish to expand their knowledge in this area (project 3.2.01).

Knowledge transfer in Uzbekistan

The transfer of knowledge also plays a central role in a BMBF-funded project in the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan entitled “Economic and ecological restructuring of land and water use in the Khorezm region”. Khorezm is situated on the Aral Sea, which has all but disappeared over the last few decades as a result of the massive irrigation required for the region’s intensive cotton production. Working with their Uzbek partners and local farmers, the project participants are promoting environmentally sustainable agriculture in the region and supporting the inhabitants of Khorezm with the independent implementation of necessary measures. This is done by providing regular training to farmers and water technicians and by developing appropriate organisational and communication tools. The initiative also supports the education of Uzbek students (project 3.2.02).

International scholarship programme

In 2001, the BMBF launched a scholarship programme under the title of “International Postgraduate Studies in Water Technologies” (IPSWaT). The programme offers scholarships for Masters degrees (M.Sc.) and doctorates (Ph.D) as a means of supporting young, highly qualified scientists from home and abroad with their research into integrated, sustainable water management. By awarding these scholarships, the BMBF hopes to improve the international transfer of knowledge and technology in the field of water management and support future decision-makers in developing and emerging countries. The programme is also laying the foundation for future scientific and economic co-operation (project 3.2.03).

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