INDONESIAN VILLAGES AND CLIMATE CHANGE

23/10/2012

Earlier on this blog I wrote about some of the adventures during my internship in the city Semarang in Indonesia. But I mentioned only slightly what I had been doing in this country. So, here I want to shed some more light on my tasks and activities in the country of many islands, vast forests and rich biodiversity.

My internship took place in the environmental organization BINTARI, which is involved in the climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in the upstream watershed of the Garang river. It helps the local rural communities reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by introducing and supporting agroforestry, compost and biogas production and education on the climate change issue.

My task during the internship had been to estimate the past, present and future GHG emissions from animal husbandry sector in the Indrokilo village, which is situated on the slope of the Ungaran mountain near the city Semarang in Central Java, and suggest the optimal strategies and initiatives for the village community to reduce these emissions. My results, strategies and recommendations were meant to be used by the community, BINTARI and the Indonesian government to design and implement more efficient climate change mitigation actions in Indrokilo and other villages, which were part of the recently initiated national program “1000 Kampung Iklim” (“1000 Climate Villages”).

As this was the first research on GHG emissions in Indrokilo and there was no necessary data about it available, I had to travel to the village and interview some of its residents. So, together with Mas Nuro we did two visits to the Ungaran region and Indrokilo, talked with some community leaders and observed the GHG emissions reduction initiatives in action. These were short, but quite interesting expeditions.

Firstly, we went deep into the forest on the Ungaran mountain to see how farmers there plant trees as part of the agroforestry program. This yields double benefits: the farmers can harvest coffee and fruits from these trees, and the trees capture carbon from the atmosphere.

As a result, the amount of trees increases and the forest carbon sink grows larger, allowing more carbon to be removed from the atmosphere:

After that we went to interview some leaders of the village community. All people we talked with were quite friendly and open, though they did not have the detailed information needed for precise estimation of GHG emissions (which had been expected, of course). Nevertheless, we spent a very nice time with them drinking locally produced tea and sharing with each other stories about life in Indonesia and Moldova. I have reasons to believe that I was the first one from Moldova they had seen in their whole life.

And at one family I even tried preparing special food for the local wedding ceremony. Mas Nuro explained me that men do such activity for several hours during the day. I was quite sweaty already after several minutes:

Some villagers took us to the local biogas and compost production facilities and showed and explained us how they make biogas for cooking and compost to apply as organic fertilizer on the fields from animal manure. As I am a member of the founding team of DreamUPS – an opensource platform for sustainable do-it-yourself solutions – I used this opportunity to make a video about compost production for our free virtual library of sustainable ideas and write an article about Indrokilo on our blog. You can check the compost production solution HERE and the “climate village” story HERE.

Finally, Mas Nuro and his friend from Indrokilo took me to the local waterfall deep in the forest. The road here was rather long, steep and tiring in the hot climate of Indonesia (the daily temperature stays around +30 oC during the whole year):

However, the trip was worth it – the waterfall was small, but still impressive.

Of course, I did not want to miss the opportunity and took a quick shower under the chilly and fresh waters falling from the edge of the rock above. In the hot and dry atmosphere this was extremely refreshing and revitalizing… especially when I found out that for some local people having shower in this waterfall is part of some sacred ceremony (although in this case they do it totally naked).

So, these were the adventures during my visits to the Indrokilo village. Upon returning to the BINTARI office, I used the information obtained from the villagers to calculate methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from livestock at the study site, suggested strategies and further actions to be implemented there and elaborated the final research report, which was then submitted to BINTARI.

All in all, I consider the official side of my internship in Indonesia to be a success.

And for this I am very grateful to Mas Nuro and the BINTARI Foundation for giving me the opportunity to explore some of the Indonesian villages and climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives there.

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DENMARK: WHERE ENERGY GOES GREEN

15/04/2012

If you are interested about renewable energy technology, one of the best places to see and learn about it is Denmark. This country has committed itself to an ambitious target of 35% share of renewable energy in the total energy production by 2020 and also promised to increase this share to 100% by 2050. This implies significant investments and innovations in wind turbines, solar panels, which are also called photovoltaics (PV), biomass, smart grids, and so on. However, there are also benefits that motivate the Danish energy sector to go “green and clean”, in particular new profitable business opportunities, leadership on the renewable energy market, more jobs, and independence from fossil fuels and their prices.

In exploring the potential of renewable energy Denmark relies mostly on wind power. Indeed, strong winds, access to seas, and lack of sufficient solar radiation for PV make wind turbines a good choice to pursue. No wonder that the most efficient 3-bladed wind turbine design was “born” in Denmark (the so-called “Danish design”), as well as the most productive wind farm is situated here. Currently there are 12 offshore wind farms in the country.

But what is even more exciting in my opinion is that in Denmark renewable energy technology is open for all… literally. During the year you can find plenty of places and events related to informing public about the “green” energy. The most recent one called “Mind Blowing Copenhagen” and organized on 14th – 15th of April in Copenhagen displayed a good variety of electric vehicles, different applications of wind turbines and PV, as well as the real wind turbine transport and installation ship. Each visitor could find something matching his/her interests. For example, as I am doing an international research project on waste management called “Non-state Cooperation in Environment Protection Area in Developed and Developing Countries: The Case of Waste Management in Moldova”, I got interested in waste bins/compactors equipped with PV and thus working on solar power. Of course, children had most of the fun, as they had plenty of opportunities to play with solar and wind power.

So, if you are excited about the “green” energy, do come and visit Denmark. And if you are in Denmark, do look for such opportunities to learn about how we can implement renewable energy technology in our energy production and consumption. And when you learn this, do implement your knowledge in practice. Because it is high time for our energy to go “green and clean”!

 

Sources:

Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building, 2012. DK Energy Agreement, March 22 2012 [Online]. Available at: http://www.kemin.dk/Documents/Presse/2012/Energiaftale/FAKTA%20UK%201.pdf [Accessed: 15 April 2012]

Iscenco, A. 2012. EU Climate Change Policy in an International Context. University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen

Mind Blowing Copenhagen, 2012. Home [Online]. Available at: http://mindblowingcopenhagen.dk [Accessed: 15 April 2012]


INTEGRITY

15/10/2011

Let me continue the thread about sustainable business started in the posts “GLOBALLY RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP” and “3 IN 1”. This time I offer you to look at integrity – the concept widely discussed in the corporate and non-corporate world nowadays. For instance, it was one of the core topics at the Daimler World Dialogue 2011 organized in October 2011 by the well-known manufacturer of the Mercedes-Benz cars Daimler AG.

So, what is integrity? And why does it receive so much attention? Here is my opinion.

Integrity is one of the essential components of globally responsible leadership. Being consistent in own vision, mission, expectations, goals, values, principles, methods, actions, etc. allows your organization to progress steadily in the desired direction and earns trust from the side of share- and stakeholders and other economic agents. This trust is the foundation of the long-term successful cooperation, which, as has been mentioned, is necessary to address all international and global issues.

Integrity is also related to the holistic, or systemic approach, when, for instance, international business is viewed not only as “sell – buy” relationships between the organization and its clients in different countries, but as a complex system of economic agents, processes, methods, principles, the environment, etc. and interrelations between them. Operating as part of such system requires the previously-mentioned consistency.

Another aspect of integrity in international business is represented in incorporating the socially accepted norms, values, morality, and other elements of ethics into the decision-making and operations of the organization. But, considering the international character of affaires here, the organization should be consistent with ethical principles and norms not of a single country or region, but of a global society. Truly, a huge challenge, but very awarding indeed!

And last, but not least, integrity means not only acting consistently with vision, values, methods, etc., but also providing trustworthy information in a timely and transparent manner. An organization incorporating integrity in its information delivery actions has a consistent and unambiguous image among clients, partners, competitors, policy-makers, and other agents.

 

Image is taken from here.


GLOBALLY RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP

26/08/2011

Recently I have been asked to state my opinion on what is globally responsible leadership. Below is a brief summary of my understanding of this modern and important concept.

Evolution. The World and each of its elements is constantly in the process of evolution. This goes also for new knowledge, experience, and opportunities, as well as for problems and challenges. The more we know about the World, the more we find out about its complexity and interdependence and the more we realize how fragile these interdependences are. Take greenhouse gases (GHGs) for instance: only relatively recently we have discovered how their emissions from factories, automobiles, etc. are harmful to the environment and human health and how they can alter the global climatic balance. And we do not know even the half of the story!

In order to keep up with this “evolution” and consider the above-mentioned interrelations in our decision-making, strategies, and actions, we have no choice, but to push forward the evolution of such important “change-making tools”, as leadership. Nowadays it is no longer enough to lead your organization to success on the market, for example. Now the leader should consider and take the responsibility for what consequences on economy, society, and the environment his/her decisions and actions will have. This responsibility will make the leader strive for finding and implementing solutions to such global issues and externalities as climate change and integrate them into his/her business and way of living.

However, the majority, if not all global issues, or “bads” are public by their nature (that is, non-excludable and non-rival). This indicates the efforts of a single organization, even very large and international, are not enough to solve these issues in an effective and efficient way. Cooperation is necessary. But such unpleasant things as free-riding by other economic agents pose obstacles to this cooperation and motivation to strive for positive change. Thus, globally responsible leadership means not only acting as an agent of positive change, but also assuming the role of a drive force of bringing together other players on the global arena and leading them to common goals, in spite of all the challenges and obstacles.

So, to make it brief, in my understanding, globally responsible leadership is the way of making decisions and acting on their basis with taking responsibility for their consequences on economy, society, and the environment and contributing to reducing / eliminating negative and increasing positive impacts on the global level through driving forward the cooperation of all necessary agents.

But did you know that the best time to learn about and practice globally responsible leadership is when you are young and full of energy and desire to change the World?

Did you know that there exists a global student organization that is focused on “creating” globally responsible leaders?

Did you know…

Note 1: If you want to learn more about the concept of the globally responsible leadership, a recommendation is to see Quinn L., D’Amato A. (2008): Globally Responsible Leadership: A Leading Edge Conversation, Center for Creative Leadership.

Note 2: Discussion about the globally responsible leadership was inspired by the application to the Daimler World Dialogue 2011.


LEVEL 5 TRAINER?

31/05/2010

During my time in the global organization AIESEC, where I had managed to be in the role of trainer and facilitator within various events in different countries, I have observed quite interesting phenomenon connected with people’s character, reasons to become trainers, and their further performance. Now I would like to share it with you.

The NGO AIESEC is very active in the training/ facilitation area: rarely can you find a project / event here without some sessions / workshops entangled there (it has both advantages and disadvantages, but this is a discussion apart). Therefore, one has many opportunities to interact with young people on the start line of their training career, more experienced trainers, and senior specialists in this field from alumni and partner companies / NGOs. And from my discussions and collaboration with them, the following conclusion comes to evidence.

Basically, there are 2 categories of successful trainers grouped by specifics of their character and reasons of engaging into the training / facilitation area:

1) The “Stars”:

These people are mostly extrovert with strong need to be if not in the centre, then at least within large social groups. They enjoy communicating with people; social skill is one of their strongest points. The “Stars” are aware of this fact and seek any opportunity to actively interact with others. Training / facilitation area is very attractive for such people and that is why the majority of trainers are of this kind.

Truly, they are the “Stars”. Such trainers are able to work with public in a very effective way without any significant effort – well, it is their natural behaviour. They feel themselves like fish in clear water full of nutritious plankton. Thus, these trainers really shine on the sky.

However, the “Stars” perceive their training performance as natural and personal success (“How else could it be?”), therefore, they are not so attentive to details, innovations, and, in general, further development. Why change anything, when things are going more than very good? Especially if I am the reason of these “more than very good things”! Certainly, in most cases such approach creates stagnation in training development with the trainer himself stuck in his own “spotlight”.

2) The “Quasars”:

The majority of these individuals are introvert and sometimes even shy. They accumulate and use energy within them: from their own inner thoughts, imagination, and activities. Such persons can be characterised as modest, quiet, calm, and never boastful. Naturally, their communication skills are not developed so well, in some cases are one of the weak points. It should be quite unusual for the “Quasars” to be interested in such social-oriented, effective-communication-demanding, and egocentric area as training and facilitation. But, this is exactly the word “unusual” that brings such trainers great success.

Yes, the “Quasars” are aware of their weakness in social skills, but at the same time they possess very strong will to change this. It brings them certain discomfort in personal life, and that is why they put themselves out of the “comfort zone” by trying various social activities, like training / facilitation. And where these individuals lack in effective communication and adaptability to different social environments, they gain in unwavering resolve, undeniable desire, drive, hard work, focus on details, creativity and innovation. Truly, they are like quasars in open space: far outnumbered by the multitude of shining stars, they suddenly emerge from the darkness of supermassive black holes of unusual ideas and approaches, spreading their light to unbelievable distances and attracting everything around them with mighty gravitational forces.

It is interesting that something similar can be found in the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. The common point is related to Leadership and is called “Level 5 Leader”. The author points out that in order to reach Level 4 Leader, who maintains moderate or good performance of an organization, an individual should possess such characteristics as intelligence, ambition, charisma, egocentrism, etc. But in order to become the Level 5 Leader, the one that is able to give an organization “impossible” boost for a very long time even after his / her leaving, such paradoxical combination of humbleness with incredible dedication and drive for the organization is essential.

Such approach can be applied to the above-mentioned categories of successful trainers. You really need highly developed communication skills, natural outgoingness with public, self-confidence, and strong ego to become Level 4 Trainer. However, it is the synergy of “personal humility + professional will” that is able to take you to Level 5 Trainer – the level of successful performance with an unusual, but truly quasar blast.

Images are taken from here, here, and here.


THE AMBITION OF 2015

07/05/2010

As an alumnus already I have little to say regarding the newly created organizational strategy called AIESEC 2015… Nevertheless this period brings significant push to my own ambition and goals. Needless to mention they are possible with the support of my experience in AIESEC, in particular the eXchange stage.

It is due to my internship within the environmental project “Learn to Change the Future 2009” in Craiova, Romania (details are revealed in the post “PRICELESS GEM IN MY COLLECTION”), that for the first time I have been able to present my idea and ambition to establish the BioSciences Research Centre (BSRC) – an international organization aimed to combine Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), scientific research and contribution to the environment protection in my home country and all over the World. The presentations took place last summer in two Romanian cities: Craiova and Timisoara. They allowed me to practice presenting the idea of BSRC, gain self-assurance, as well as obtain several valuable contacts to use in the nearby future. So, according to the well-known concept “The Right People on the Bus” (read about it in the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins), I have the “Bus”, and now I am in process of getting the “right people” on it.

Thus, the internship through AIESEC has significantly contributed to the establishment progress of another organization that by the year 2015 should be officially registered and actively developing to realize its vision, mission and goals.

This is how the cumulative growth is done: one success brings another… one victory leads to more on other battlefields… and so forth. And in the end, the Ambition of 2015 is turned into the Reality.

Additional information about the presentations of the BioSciences Research Centre (BSRC) is available in the post “NO MORE AMBITION… TIME FOR ACTION!“.


AIESEC: THE MONAD MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT

10/03/2010

It is not a great surprise that the non-government organization of young people AIESEC is considered to be one of the fastest growing and highly innovative NGOs in the World. To support the statement the following facts can be given:

– Successful history of more than 60 years (since 1948);

– Available good case practices (GCPs) of team / project / innovation management and organizational culture that serve as examples for other organizations and private companies;

– Long-term partnerships with large transnational corporations: Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Post DHL, Electrolux, Indersoll Rand, Microsoft, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), UBS, Unilever, Vale and many more;

– Numerical achievements (based on the data of 2009 – 2010): coverage of more than 107 countries and territories, presence in approximately 1700 universities, around 45000 members and 9000 leadership roles, more than 5500 internships provided and 470 conferences organized per year, over 800000 alumni.

However, an obvious question arises here:

How an organization of students and recent graduates with few or no working experience engaged in its activity on a volunteer basis is able to deliver such impressive results and maintain constant growth?

Well, the answer can be found in the Monad Model of Development.

Monad (from the Greek “monas” – the whole) can be described as a single, neutral, and balanced system containing all existing elements. A well-known example of monad is the Chinese Tao that represents the interconnection and interdependence of seemingly contrary forces within a united system (the yin and yang concept).

Now, let us place the Tao monad in a system of coordinates, where the X axis represents the time, and the Y axis – numerical achievements (Gross Domestic Product, investments, sales results, etc.). And here you have it: a single segment of the economic growth cycle with its active growth (boom), growth peak, recession, crisis point (trough), and recovery.

In long-term scale monads can also represent the Kondratiev waves, or Supercycles, used for describing the development of world economy and civilization on the basis of innovations.

As you see, the Monad Model is a universal one and can be applied to the development of economy, society, organization, etc. Therefore, it is also suitable for displaying the growth of an AIESEC entity (committee). I have chosen an example of AIESEC Moldova, as I was a part of its history and possess detailed information about it. The timeline shown in the following diagram reflects the period between the committee’s reestablishment in 2004 and till the end of our National Executive Board team’s mandate in 2009.

One can apply the presented diagram to any local or national AIESEC committee in every country where it is present. Only the numerical data and description of periods and achievements will change, the overall structure should remain the same.

Now, what KEY SUCCESS FACTORS of organizational growth are shown here:

1) Each new monad (segment of growth cycle) is based on certain significant (even revolutionary) achievement / innovation that transfers the following system onto a new level (transfer point). In simpler words, during a mandate every generation of leaders in AIESEC create a solid platform for their successors to capitalize on and achieve greater results.

2) In order to create the transfer point the organization requires significant amount of resources (people, time, finance, etc.). That is why the preceding period is characterized by downfall in organizational performance and effectiveness. Still, as you have noticed, the downfall is the lowest point not of the whole cycle, but only within the current monad. This means the organization always has the possibility to gather resources from the lower level, combine them with the ones on current level (obtained from the booming period within the current monad), and invest all of them in creating the necessary achievement / innovation.

3) The stability of the whole cycle depends on interconnection of the current growth level, the preceding one, and the succeeding one. Each monad is present in all three levels at once, indicating that the organization actively uses current trends and opportunities, involves people (partners, alumni) and resources already obtained in the previous term, and performs strategic planning for the period ahead (5-years strategy “AIESEC 2010”) – all within one balanced process.

Additionally, what IMPORTANT LESSONS can be learned from the Monad Model of Organizational Development:

1) In order to gain something significant, you need to invest much in it. Often it leads to a certain downfall in performance. The key to further growth here lies in not crossing the limit and performing the investment in the right time and place to stimulate the recovery process.

2) The overall victory of an army depends on all preceding battles, be they successful or not so. For in victories the soldiers gain motivation to move further, in defeats they obtain the knowledge and strength to win. This is also true for the organization: the current growth is impossible without the achievements and failures of all previous generations of its members and leaders. You need to be grateful and respectful to them, and capitalize on their advice and support as much as possible.

3) The so-called Power of NOW is an impressive and inspiring thing, but it is extremely limited and useless without the Powers of PAST and FUTURE. For only the preceding results, present actions, and planned initiatives and innovations entangled in single process will create the enormous synergy of growth.

Of course, the information on the Monad Model is not limited to this article – there are many peculiarities to be found in various scientific sources. And the Model is appropriate not only for AIESEC – it is able to explain the development of any organization, company or public institution. The reason I have used it particularly for this organization is that the Monad Model allows explaining the global growth by using a part of it as an example, determining key success factors and coming up with lessons to be learned and implemented in order to support organizational development.

Thus, you have the answer on the question at the beginning of this post. No brainwashing, just pure science of AIESEC.