Following a successful cooperation in 2012 between Ecologic Institute and the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), a second edition of the Environment and Sustainability Summer School took place from 10 to 20 June 2013 in Berlin. A total of 60 students from northern Mexico participated in a series of lectures and activities designed to exhibit the direct applications of German environmental and sustainability policies.
The main objective of the program was to raise awareness among these young Mexican students of the concepts of sustainability and environmentalism by exposing them to activities which elucidate the multiple and dynamic relationships between nature and society.
The program incorporated lectures on a wide range of environmental and environmentally-relevant topics, including the concepts of ecosystems, biodiversity, climate change, sustainable development and urban mobility, among others. To provide further context to the purely academic parts of the program, a series of field trips were organized which gave participants the opportunity to learn more about electro-mobility projects, energy-independent communities, and environmentally-friendly urban centers.
For this year's edition of the summer school, Ecologic Institute established a partnership with the Nelson Mandela School, which gave the participants access to the school's facilities and allowed for cultural exchange and integration with their German and international counterparts.
Fields trips included:
- A visit to the electric-mobility platform in the Innovation Center for Mobility and Societal Change (InnoZ), including presentations and demonstrations on renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, Pedelec electro-mobility and Micro Smart Grids.
- A walking tour of key historical and environmentally relevant locations in Berlin, including visits to the old Anhalter Bahnhof train station, the Topography of Terror museum, the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial and the government district. During the tour, participants also learned about sustainable urban engineering and architecture from the Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) or International Architecture Exhibition.
- A one-day field trip to the energy self-sufficient village of Feldheim in Brandenburg, which showed the participants one of Germany's examples of local energy autonomy via private local heating and power grids.
- A 'backstage' tour of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz, where participants visited selected commercial buildings of this bustling square in the heart of Berlin. The tour had a particular emphasis on green roofs, rainwater catchment systems, insulation of walls and windows, waste separation and management, as well as other environmental elements of urban construction and resource management.
A highlight of this year's program was the simulation of a UN climate change negotiation session. Here, students played the role of delegates representing different countries within an international climate regime. The participants were confronted with the task of negotiating and agreeing upon a series of commitments to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. To close the session, the moderators placed the simulation exercise in context by outlining their personal experiences participating as delegates in the actual negotiations of the UNFCCC. This created a unique opportunity for participants to gather and internalize valuable insights on international climate change negotiations.
The program concluded with a final workshop where participants identified the main environmental challenges in their community and proposed potential solutions based on the knowledge gathered throughout the Summer School. Such solutions were designed and structured as project proposals that can easily be further developed, submitted to local sponsors and implemented to become tangible outcomes of the program.
The ITESM@Ecologic Summer School 2013 represented a new effort towards achieving a more sustainable, environmentally conscious Mexican society in the future. By increasing the acquaintance of future leaders with environmental and sustainability issues, the project has the potential to drive a greater interest in such topics and consequently result in more informed decision-making.