Let’s Experience Nature

July 8 - 14, 2018 CEI Austria, BG/BRG Judenburg, Styria, Austria

Conference Chair Ilse Prenn and Bernd Fiechtl

After a preparatory time of one and a half years the 32nd CEI conference took place in Judenburg/Austria from the 8th – 14th July 2018. The conference was organised by the CEI Austria team represented by Mag. Bernd Fiechtl, Mag. Ilse Prenn, Mag. Silke Felfer and Mag. Eva Tatschl and the academic grammar school “Bundesgymnasium und Bundesrealgymnasium Judenburg”, represented by HR Mag. Johann Mischlinger. Additionally, the Austrian CEI board cooperated closely with the Austrian Armed Forces at the military training base “TÜPL Seetaleralpe”, represented by Commander Manfred Hofer.

Approximately 35 teachers, 50 students, 9 graduates from the BG/BRG Judenburg and 2 international CEI alumni were involved in the preparation and implementation of the conference.

The Austrian hosts welcomed 260 international delegates from 15 different countries such as Denmark, France, Hongkong, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Taiwan, Turkey, Hungary and the USA.

All participants were accommodated at the Military Base “TÜPL Seetaleralpe”. Without the excellent facilities at the base and the professional knowledge of the military crew in accommodating large groups of people, the organisation of the conference would not have been possible to carry out.

At the opening ceremony all delegates were welcomed by a number of Austrian guests of honour, local, regional and national politicians as well as representatives from cultural and economic institutions.

The rest of the week was filled with a wide range of social, scientific, cultural and sport activities. The first highlight of the week were the project presentations. All delegations presented their projects related to the conference’s theme "Let’s Experience Nature" with a 8 - 10-minute oral presentation. In total, delegates had prepared 58 project presentations about the most different topics concerning environment. These 58 presentations were divided into 8 groups, so that every delegate had the opportunity to participate in a minimum of 14 presentations. Furthermore, participants had the opportunity to join project exhibitions.

A principal focus of the conference was on the ongoing changes in ecosystems which have been caused, especially during the last 150 years, by industrialisation and climate change. The presentation of each delegation showed a wide range of sustainable opportunities and adaptation strategies to reduce the overconsumption of resources as well as environmental pollution and the effects of climate change. The main organisation of ecological activities was carried out by the headmaster of the BG/BRG Judenburg HR Mag. Johann Mischlinger and Mag. Dr. Eva Gergely.

International scientists of Austrian universities and economic representatives presented already observable and possible environmental changes which can be expected particularly in alpine ecosystems in the future. They also pointed out the costs for national economy and illustrated the advantages of sustainable production processes, describing a local paper mill and pulp factory.

Laboratory workshops in the field of limnology, botany, zoology and chemistry, where different analytical methods, microscopes, Q-scopes and a wide range of techniques for water analysis were applied, showed the high diversity and sensitivity of regional ecosystems.

These workshops were followed by excursions to a protected alpine creek and a geo-cache track, which had been created by Austrian students close to a paper mill.

Even at an altitude of approximately 1800 m the conference set an example for sustainability. Each international delegation was invited to plant an arolla pine tree marking it with a badge in the shape of their country. So, in the future mountain hikers can enjoy the new forest comprising approx. 600 new arolla pine trees at the “Seetaler Alpe”

Another major highlight at the conference were two cultural activities. Firstly, all delegates could get a taste of different specialities from all over the world at the “Food and Fun Market” and secondly, all delegates sent special cultural greetings from their home. With cultural performances, dances and songs, delegates got an impression of different cultures and traditions from all over the world.

Another important event was the visit of the regional capital Graz. The delegates had been invited by Dr. Bettina Vollath, the president of the regional government.
The 32nd CEI conference was round off with a closing ceremony and a buffet with Austrian specialities.

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 Photos a courtesy of Ali Chou Li Lin and  Selfie Kevin