News - June 28, 2007

Students write report for Prague green belt

Environmental Sciences MSc students presented the final report on their European Workshop last Friday, 22 June. Thirty students had worked for eight weeks on a report for the ministry of environment in the Czech Republic, with recommendations for the Green Belt surrounding Prague.

Femke Batterink is glad the report is ready: ‘Before we went, we had three weeks of preparations, during which we really had no idea what to expect. That was very frustrating: we presented our research topic, got feedback, and had to present it again. The real work started during our fortnight in Prague. The first meeting with our contact person from the ministry was quite a shock. She was a fairly senior civil servant but her appearance was unexpected: a short miniskirt, pink top, high heels and a bead necklace with a big cross round her neck. She looked tired and didn’t know much about the project. Nevertheless things got going quickly, and we worked from early each morning until deep in the night.

‘Thirty of us worked together on the report – you can imagine how much coordination that required. We had a management team of five, and they did an awful lot of work. We presented our conclusions at the ministry in Prague, which sounds fantastic, but was actually a bit of an anticlimax. There weren’t many people there and we had to phrase everything very carefully rather than coming out with hard statements. ‘You’ve only been working on the subject for two weeks, so you might be wrong,’ was the message we got. I’m afraid the report will just disappear into a filing cabinet somewhere, although the Green Party is in the government and the Green Belt is one of their focal points.’

Karen Fortuin, one of the teachers in Wageningen: ‘The value of this project is that 15 nationalities worked together in a group. I noticed that they were all pretty much of the same level. We deliberately gave them a lot of freedom to find their own solutions to problems. They worked really hard and the level is very high.’