Monday, December 23, 2013

Celebrating a sustainable holiday…….tips for the season

The Holiday season is ideally a time to celebrate with family and friends characterized with excitement and a lot of activities ranging from shopping, partying, hosting friends and family, increase in travel, waste generation and energy consumption. Unfortunately, the holidays can also be a time when accidents occur due to increase in criminal activities during this period.
The objective of this write up is to increase our situational awareness during the festive season and to provide tips to ensure zero harm to people, assets and the environment. It also reminds us of the precautions we can all take to have a safe and happy season.                         
Tips for the holiday season
The following are precaution that should be applied during the holidays to ensure our safety and health are not compromised during the season.
Ø  Do not use your cellphone while walking in isolated areas and while riding a public transportation to prevent being a victim of snatching.
Ø  Make ATM withdrawals only from secure point and utilize Point Of Sale terminals and Internet banking for large cash transactions as much as possible.
Ø  Send e-Cards to friends and loved ones via the Internet, in place of traditional Christmas greeting cards.
Ø  Reduce energy consumption; use energy efficient bulbs or appliance as required.
Ø  Combine trips to reduce the frequency of travel; this reduces your fuel consumption and limits your exposure to hazards associated with commuting or travelling.
Ø  Eliminate food wastage:  Buy only required quantities of food items, especially perishable items and make necessary arrangements for storage and preservation. Excess food should be promptly packed and placed in the freezer. Apply the Eat, Think and Save principle.
Ø  Dispose of waste appropriately; gather waste in refuse bags and drop off at designated dumpsters or employ the services of approved Private Sector Partnership waste collectors.
Ø  Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house/office. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Ø  Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry properly, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.
Ø  Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you may need for emergencies.
Ø  Ensure designated drivers are available after a party. Do not drink and drive.
Ø  For long flights/travel, ensure you move around to promote blood circulation and prevent DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).
Ø  Listen to your pre-flight safety briefing and read the safety data card in the seat pocket to your front while travelling by air.
Ø  If attacked, do not argue or fight with armed criminals, be calm in speaking with them, avoid sudden movements or eye contact and remain subservient.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited. 2013.
Twitter: @O Reese2


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Climate Reality Leadership Corps………………. a social revolution for climatic action.

Our planet is fast heating up by the burning of fossil fuels with several tons of carbon pollutants entering the atmosphere everyday through landfills, transportation (traffic), power plants, forest burning, oil exploration & production, fertilizer application, industrialized agriculture, coal/mining plants to mention a few. Carbon pollution is disrupting our lives daily and destroying the earth. How long will we continue to live in an unsustainable way? Now is the time to put a price on carbon and implement the ‘Polluters Pay Principle’ in order to combat the growing devastating impacts of climate change.

Nine of ten hottest years on record in the US were in the past twelve (12) years showing the rapid changes in climatic conditions. There is a thin distinction between the rainy and the dry (Harmattan) season in Nigeria making it difficult for farmers to predict the production season. Recently, extreme weather conditions have been experienced globally ranging from flooding in India, Pakistan, Argentina, Taiwan, Philippines, Brazil and South of Nigeria (Lagos, Delta and Ondo); droughts in Arizona, China, India, Spain, South Korea, Senegal, Switzerland and Northern part of Nigeria (Adamawa and Bauchi) and the raging fires in Colorado, Russia, Portugal, Turkey, Macedonia, Texas, also the hurricanes such as Sandy, Katrina, the recent Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines (one of the strongest tropical cyclones recorded in history) and other tornados round the world.

Climate change is happening already and influencing our lifestyles; this is a call for action. How can you contribute? Promote clean and renewable energy, which is affordable, reliable and available.

The Climate Reality Project, founded and chaired by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, is dedicated to providing a global cultural movement that demands action on the current climate crisis. The Climate Reality Project exists to forge a network of global support to create awareness on climate change and promote action. With that foundation, they kindle the moral courage in our leaders to solve the climate crisis.

The Climate Reality Project employs cutting-edge communications and community engagement tools to reach out and stir up proactive action to raise the profile of the climate crisis to its proper state of urgency. With a global movement more than 5 million strong and a mass network of Climate Leaders trained by Chairman Al Gore, they promote the climate change conversations in their local community.

The Climate Reality Project operates in eight international offices: Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps has hosted 23 trainings since 2007 in locations across the globe. In 2013, the trainings were held in Chicago and Istanbul. The 2014 trainings will take place in Brazil and South Africa.


You too can become a climate leader by joining the Climate Reality Corps so we can all work together and save our home.... the earth. With collective efforts, we can combat the impacts of climate change and make a difference in our world. Let us Inform, Influence and inspire others and be dedicated to demanding action on climate change, soliciting for solutions, spreading the truth about climate change to empower our leaders to solve the climate crisis. 

Further information on the Climate Reality Project:

Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited. 2013.
Twitter: @O Reese2

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

World Oral Hygiene Day………healthy smiles

Alright, we are back from a long August break, I hope we all had a wonderful summer holiday. We restart the blog this September with an article on one of the important part of our body- the mouth. Globally, we celebrate the oral health day annually to remind us that healthy teeth, gums and mouth play a crucial role in our ability to carry out routine activities without bad breathe; tooth decay or painful toothache. The theme of World Oral Health Day 2013 is ‘Healthy Teeth for Healthy Life’. It reflects the major contribution oral health makes to our lives by boosting our morale, self-confidence and the health of our whole body.
Good oral hygiene keeps teeth free from dental plaque buildup, wands off cavities and fights bad breath. Routine oral hygiene should consist of regular brushing and flossing.  A healthy diet that's low in sugary foods is also an essential part of good oral hygiene. Regular dental visits every six months allow your dentist or dental hygienist to provide oral hygiene instructions and recommend oral hygiene products. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly.
Bad oral habits can affect your speech, chewing, self-esteem and overall health. Daily preventive oral hygiene care can help prevent dental problems from developing in the first place or from becoming too serious. Good oral hygiene practices are less painful and cheaper than treating dental problems once they develop.
The following tips can be applied to ensure you maintain a healthy smile for a long time.
·       Go on a white-teeth diet: Limit the use of red wine, kola nut, black tea, or smoking cigarettes or cigar, colas, gravies, and dark juices for these are teeth staining foods. Brush immediately after eating or drinking foods that stain teeth but for convenient teeth-cleaning action, eat an apple, raw carrots, celery, and popcorn. For best results, eat these after your meal.
·       Clean your tongue: Use a tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath. One major cause of bad breath is the buildup of bacteria on the tongue, which a daily tongue scraping is more efficient in eliminating plaque.
·       Gargle with apple cider vinegar or mouth wash: Do this in the morning and then brush as usual. The vinegar helps help remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums.
·       Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week: This will remove stains and whiten your teeth. Use it just as you would toothpaste. You can also use salt as an alternative toothpaste. Just be sure to spit it out so it doesn't count as sodium intake! Also, if your gums start to feel raw, switch to brushing with salt every other day.
·       Stay fresh: To check the freshness of your breath, lick your palm and smell it while it's still wet. If you smell something, it’s time for a sugar-free breath mint. When shopping for mouthwash, make sure it is alcohol-free because alcohol can dry out the tissues in your mouth, making them more susceptible to bacteria.
·       Practice flossing at all times: If you can floss without having to guide your work with a mirror, you can floss in your car, at your desk, while in bed, and before important meetings. In which case, buy several packages of floss and keep them in your car, your desk, your purse, handbag or nightstand. Flossing removes the cavity-causing bacteria left behind from food particles that get stuck between teeth.
·       Brush your teeth when you first get out of bed and before you get back in at night: These are the two most crucial times to brush your teeth because saliva (which keeps cavity-causing plaque off teeth) dries up at night, so it’s best to have all plaque cleaned off the teeth before sleep. Then it’s important to brush first thing in the morning to brush off plaque and bacteria (morning breath!) that may have built up while sleeping.
·       Conceal with color. Choose a medium coral or light red lipstick for these colors make your teeth look whiter, whereas lighter-colored lipsticks tend to bring out the yellow in teeth.
·       Frequent rinsing of the mouth: A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the cleanliness of your mouth. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce bacteria and plaque activity, which cause gingivitis and gum disease. Fluoride mouth rinses also help reduce and prevent tooth decay.
·       Bacteria can live in your mouth in the form of plaque, causing cavities and gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal (gum) disease. In order to keep your mouth clean, you must practice good oral hygiene every day.
·       Brushing too soon after eating: Consuming acidic foods and beverages, such as sports and energy drinks, citrus fruits, wine, and tomatoes, can erode tooth enamel—the glossy outer layer of the tooth. Brushing your teeth too soon after eating and drinking these items can cause more damage because you are essentially brushing the acid into the teeth, not getting rid of it. Instead, you should rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and beverages and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing 
·       Not replacing your toothbrush often enough: Old toothbrushes are ineffective and harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections. Toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months.
·       Using a hard-bristled toothbrush: A hard-bristled toothbrush coupled with an aggressive brushing technique can cause irreversible damage to your gums. Use a soft toothbrush and gently brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle, in a circular motion. Using a back-and-forth motion causes the gums to recede, and can expose the root of the tooth, making teeth extremely sensitive.
Routine care for your mouth (teeth, gum, tongue)
The following gives instruction on how to provide routine care for mouth.

• Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
• Move the brush back and forth gently in short strokes.
• Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
• Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
• Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
• Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
• Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
• When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
• Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side.
• Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
• Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
How can I get rid of plaque?
Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth, including where toothbrushes can't reach. Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. They produce substances that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. This can lead to gum disease, in which gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that fill with bacteria and pus.  
The best way to remove plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day.  Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Brush your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled brush. Use an antimicrobial toothpaste containing fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. Clean between the teeth once a day with floss to remove plaque from between the teeth especially where the toothbrush can't reach.
Your teeth need a lot of care and attention to achieve LIFELONG good Oral health

Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2         

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Tips: Avoiding Slips Trips and Falls…watch your step

Missing a step can become very fatal depending on the impact on the body part especially during the rains where there are lots of wet surfaces. Over 60% of falls that results in accidents occur on the same level popularly termed slips and trips which result when an unintended or unexpected change occurs between the feet and the walking surface. These hazards are easy to correct if we to identify them around our homes and work site and strive to prevent them. Take care not to cause any slip, trip, or fall hazards as you go about your daily activities. Although a fewer number of accidents occur from a height or an elevation; they are usually fatal resulting in very serious injuries to body parts.
There are three basic hazards as follows:
  • Slips: Slips occur when there is too little friction between a person's feet and the walking surface. Substances such as: oil, water, cleaning fluids, un-anchored rugs or mats, debris and other slippery substances cause slips.Weather hazards, walking surfaces without traction in all areas and occasional spills can also cause slips.
  • Trips: Trips occur when a person's foot collides an object and they are thrown off balance and eventually fall. Objects left on the walkway, tools; object that projecting into the walkway, poor lighting and uneven walking surfaces are all capable of causing trips.
  •  Falls: Falls occur because of various factors; a slip, stumble, trip over an object or a sudden quick movement throwing the body off balance. Slips and trips frequently result in a fall if loss of balance occurs. Falls also occur for other reasons including improper use of ladders and scaffolding. Falls also happen when people climb elevated structures without using fall protection equipment. Do not risk serious injury by taking shortcuts. If you are working on a ladder, scaffold, or other elevated platform, make sure you know the requirements for using them safely. Always use fall protection equipment when it is required.

Causes of Slips, trips and falls
The following are some of the potential causes of slips,trips and falls:
Walking and Working Surfaces
Almost all construction sites have unprotected sides and edges, wall openings or floor holes at some point in time. These openings and sides must be secured, or falls may occur. These potential hazards may be avoided by:
          Covering or guarding floor holes as soon as they are created.
          Using a fall prevention (e.g. guard rails) or protection (fall arrest device) system if the employees are exposed to a fall of six feet or more.
          Surveying the work site prior to start of work, and continually throughout the day to identify and guard any openings or holes.
Many sites utilize scaffolding for the employees to gain access to the elevated parts of the building or structure. If the scaffolding is improperly constructed or has unsafe access, it becomes hazardous. Scaffolding hazards can be avoided by:
          Erecting all scaffolding according to manufacturer’s directions and inspection by a competent person prior to use.
          Providing safe access to the scaffolding platforms.
          Installing guardrails along all open sides and ends according to established OSHA criteria.

Portable ladders are another common method of accessing elevated parts of the building or structure. If ladders are not positioned safely and securely fastened, they may shift and cause one to fall. To avoid potential ladder hazards:
          Inspect the ladder before each use for cracked or broken parts. A broken ladder should be taken out of service and tagged.
          Do not place more weight on the ladder than what it was designed to hold.                                         
          Secure the top of the ladder to a rigid support.
          The ladder should extend 3 feet above the landing you are accessing.
          Ensure the feet of the ladder are securely placed and will not slip out from under you.
          Ladders made on site must be able to safely hold the weight of the worker and his tools.
          While using a ladder, it is recommended you are accompanied by a fellow worker.
Preventing Slips, Trips and falls
Good housekeeping is the first and most important way of preventing falls due to slips and trips. Other ways to avoid creating slip and trip hazards are to:
  • Wear work boots or shoes with slip resistant soles.
  • Clean up any liquid spills right away.
  • Watch your step and pay attention to where you are going.
  • Ensure things you are carrying do not prevent you from seeing obstructions or spills
  • Avoid walking in areas that pose slipping hazards
  • Use abrasive or anti-slip strips on stairway, aisles or walkways
  •  Tape down or cover loose cables and electrical cords.
  • Look out for elevation change while walking
  • Keep objects that could cause someone to trip out of the way. Repair uneven flooring and install proper lighting if required.
  • Keep aisle /walkways clear from clutter or obstructions
  • Keep all floor surfaces in good condition
  • Always use installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks
  • Use a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light
 We must continue to focus on preventing these types of incident because injury and death from falls at work is second only to traffic accidents, taking some 21,000 lives each year.
Watch your step; do not let a slip, trip, or fall keep you from enjoying all that life has to offer.

Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2         

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Piper Alpha: 25years Later…………

All accidents are preventable if safe work practices are promoted, human error is eliminated and safe work conditions are provided. The worst and highly publicized disaster in history is the offshore incident of the Piper Alpha that occurred on 6th July, 1988 in the North Sea killing 167men including crew men of rescue vessel with a total loss of about GBP 1.7 billion (USD$3.4 billion). At the time of the incident, this platform was accountable for ten percent of the North Sea oil and gas production.

The platform began production in 1976 first as an oil production then as a gas production operated by Occidental Petroleum. A large capacity North Sea Drilling and Production Platform standing in 475 feet of water with topsides and jackets with peak production up to 250,000 BBLS/d and up to 250men working on it. It was interconnected to 3 other platforms: Tartan 12 miles west of Piper and 18miles from Claymore which was 22miles southwest from Piper and MCP01 stationed 34 miles northwest from Piper Alpha.
The incident happened at 2200 hrs with an explosion and large oil fire, three significant explosions followed and at 2350 hrs the accommodation module toppled into the sea. At about 0020 hrs the entire platform collapsed. The direct and indirect costs of this incident are enormous and include 167 lives lost (165 crew men and 2 rescuers); Piper ‘B’ replacement cost 1,000 million pounds; Government revenue loss and insurance costs estimated at 2,000 million pounds; Cost to rest of UK offshore industry put at 5,000 million pounds to develop Safety Cases and implement Safety Improvements.
A video highlighting the sad event titled “Remembering the Piper - a night that changed our lives” was launched in July 2013 during the 25th anniversary of the incident by Step Change in Safety, this has been circulated all over the industry to re-emphasize the importance of ensuring safety measures are implemented during operations, eliminating complacency, promoting strong leadership commitment to safety and engaging the workforce.

The following are lessons learned from the piper incident that could be applied on current operations to prevent recurrence of similar disaster:

  • The permit to work system did not ensure proper communications for the night crew operating the platform were not informed that the critical pump had been switched off for repair/maintenance.
  • The control room was located above the production platform therefore the offshore installation Manager who would have communicated effectively died in the first explosion.
  • Previous risk analysis of offshore structures did not focus on actual structural capacity.
  • The design of the facility did not provide adequate protection of structures against intense fires such as blast walls.
  • There were inadequate safety systems in place for shut down because Claymore and Tartan platforms continued pumping into Piper resulting in multiple explosions.
  • Human or Management errors for inability to communicate effectively or/and implement safe work practices.
  • There were insufficient redundancies in safety systems unrecognized coupling in the design.
  • There was compromise of safety because production was ranked a higher priority than safety.
  • There was no “shut down” plan during maintenance operations.
  • The Person In Charge did not order emergency evacuation of all persons on board.
  • The emergency routes were blocked and not clear for proper evacuation.
  • The lifeboats were inaccessible; firefighting equipments on board could not be operated because diesel pumps were on manual mode.
  • There was no emergency lighting to aid evacuation of team on board.

Currently, the oil and gas industry is still faced with the same hazards and challenges experienced over 25years ago therefore there should be conscious efforts by all to be responsible for their safety, that of fellow workers and of the environment.
A Memorial Sculpture built by Sue Jane Taylor inscribed “Lest We Forget” at Queen Elizabeth 1 Rose Garden-Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen. On each of the granite faces of the plinth is inscribed the names and ages of the dead from the incident; the youngest was 18 years and the oldest was 60 years. Under the plinth the remains of the unidentified dead are interred. The last body recovered was found on the seabed on 2nd June, 1989.

 Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Tips: Electrical Safety….beware of the bite

 All electrical equipments are potentially hazardous and can cause serious shock and burn injuries if improperly used or maintained. Electricity normally travels through electrical conductors which may be in the form of cables, wires or parts of the human body. Electrocution is the second biggest killer of employees in general industry in the United States. Most electrical fires are from defective equipments, inadequate wiring of equipment, overloaded circuits, substandard repairs or alterations. If a part of the body comes in contact with the electrical circuit, a shock will occur. The electrical current will enter the body at one point and leave at another. The passage of electricity through the body can cause great pain, burns, destruction of tissue, nerves, and muscles and even death.
Some common electrical hazards include: ungrounded equipments (creating a low resistant path to earth through ground connection); overloaded extension cords or outlets; use of non-approved equipment; use of defective or frayed electrical cords, improperly installed cord for electrical equipment and exposed live cords to mention a few.
There are three basic levels of protection to ensure you work safely around electricity:
  • Ø  Engineering controls: Involve adjusting design of equipment to prevent shock hazards or injuries such as insulation using a material (rubber, glass, some plastics) with little or no conductive properties to put a barrier between you and the current flow. Most metals and moist skin offer very little resistance to the flow of electrical current and can easily conduct electricity. Other substances such as dry wood, ceramic, or pottery, rubber offer a high resistance and can be used to prevent the flow of electrical current.
  • Ø  Safe work practices: These practices can be developed through training and providing safe work procedures for workers.
  • Ø  Personal protective equipment (PPE): An extra line of defense by reducing the impact of the hazard. Use the appropriate PPE for the job together with the safe work practices and engineering controls.

   The following tips on identifying and preventing electric shock or injuries can be applied in the office or at home and can be shared with family and friends to ensure we prevent all accidents associated with electricity:
  • ·       Secure all cables and cords around your work area or home with a duct tape along the wall so they don’t pose trip hazard.
  • ·       Remember, a clean work area is a productive work area; keep tools clean and arranged
  • ·       Electrical appliances can pose fire hazard risks. Be sure to turn off all appliances at the end of the day or when going out or travelling
  • ·       If electrical equipment malfunctions or gives off a strange odor, switch off immediately then call the appropriate maintenance personnel.
  • ·       Promptly disconnect and replace cracked, frayed, or broken electrical cords.
  • ·       Keep extension cords clear of doorways and other areas where they can be stepped on or chafed and never plug one extension cord into another.
  • ·       Don’t fasten extension cords with staples, hang from nails, or suspend by wire.
  • ·       Use special insulated tools when working on fuses with energized terminals.
  • ·       Don’t use equipment with worn or frayed cords and cables.
  • ·       Plugs should fit securely into outlets, but never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
  • ·       Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire.
  • ·       Always inspect tools and equipment before you work.·       Do not work within ten (10) feet of overhead power lines carrying up to 50kilovolts of electricity.

 If some of these tips are applied while working with electrical equipment, electric shock and electrical injuries termed "the bite" can be prevented.

 Written by O’ Reese on behalf of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Climate leader’s encounter at Gezi Park

Indeed climate change is real and this was evident at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, a 3 day extensive and intriguing session. The aim was to train leaders globally to develop skills and provide information to create action on climate change.

It was 14th - 16th June 2013 and saw the congregation of about 600 passionate environmental delegates from 94 countries with the common goal of learning about the growing concern of climatic changes, its impact on the quality of life, our environment and the drive to promote this awareness globally. We had the honor of being invited to this great event organized by the Nobel Laureate Al Gore the former Vice President of the United States of America and Chairman of Climate Reality - an environmental movement for change.

Ironically, the training was scheduled to hold in Istanbul, Turkey close to Taksim Square where for over 10 days, prior to the scheduled training, there has been ongoing environmental protests by members of the public tagged “Occupy Gezi” aimed at halting the development of a section of Gezi park for the construction of a replica of the Topcu Barracks by the government as part of the Taksim rejuvenation project.

The first day of the training, which happened to be a Friday started with the introductory session and developing of presentation skills in order to promote conversations. At the end of the day, a group of us (delegates) went towards Taksim Square to have dinner and were trilled by the activities around Gezi Park where there was singing and dancing by protesters. After dinner, we joined in and hung around to enjoy the scenery and it was a nice experience. 

On Saturday, 15th of June which was the main day, we had an opportunity of having a whole day (10 hours) with Al Gore where he went through a presentation to prepare us for  leadership roles as Climate Change Volunteers. He gave the presentation with so much passion, enthusiasm and drive, it was really inspiring for most of us especially me.

As we trained to promote action on climate change, the Turkish protesters at Gezi Park made the place habitable by building tents to enhance resistance to government officials with the resilience to protect the park. These two activities by different groups of individuals had the common goal of environmental protection and location close to Taksim Square but the approach towards achieving the goals were different. The training by climate reality involved a group of individuals passionate about the environment whilst the protests at Gezi Park were becoming political and more or less violent.

Encounter at Gezi Park: After spending a day with Al Gore, we were energized, learnt a lot about the science behind climate change and the devastating effects in some areas. We all made individual commitments to go forth and win the climate change conversations. As I went through the training, I started having ideas on how to positively impact my community. An evening of cocktails and canapés was organized afterwards to promote networking opportunities and picture taking. It was an opportunity for delegates to interact with those from other countries or continents sharing ideas and experiences since they were previously grouped by continent/country during the training. 

There were discussions on ideas for the ten activities the Climate leaders had committed to in the next one year and how they were going to tell the stories in order to influence individuals, organizations and government to carry out action to combat the climate change. Spending time with fellow climate leaders was inspiring, after a while I joined a group of 15 climate leaders who decided to go on a boat cruise to Bosphorous strait to sail between the shores of Europe and Asia.  We were all excited as we walked from the reception venue to get a bus to take us to the ferry for the boat cruise chatting away. As we approached Gezi Park, we noticed that protesters were wearing nose mask and a couple of people were wearing hardhats. I brought this to the attention of my fellow delegates for the atmosphere was different from what we observed the previous day where we were singing and dancing. As we walked past the park we realized that policemen were surrounding the park and there was so much activity. Immediately I realized that, I told my colleagues I was leaving and advised them to do same. We retreated and took the emergency route we had earlier identified the day before. Suddenly the policemen started firing tear gas and pepper spray on protesters and people around the part.

At that point, people scampered we had lost some of our colleagues in the crowd, as there was so much chaos with people running, children crying and protesters chanting their songs in the Turkish language. We finally made it to a luxurious hotel called Marti Istanbul hotel and walked into the lobby away from the “teargas” and confusion. We spent over 3hours at the hotel reception networking, wining and dining. 

At about midnight the situation got worse and we were advised not to return to our hotel. We had to pay for rooms at the hotel and guess what, it was a lot nicer and fancier that our initial hotel, and as relief for a successful escape, I pampered myself with a Turkish Bath .

Afterwards, my colleagues and I hung out at the lounge, chatting until the early hours of the morning so we only slept for a few hours but the great part of our stay at Marti was the full breakfast buffet we had in the morning before setting out to our rooms to get our stuff. When we saw the devastations on the street close to our hotel we were glad we stayed back.

The last day of the training was a bit distracting as a lot of people were busy trying to reschedule their tickets to leave earlier than scheduled or trying to relocate to safer areas of Istanbul.

Lessons Learned: The following lessons were identified in the course of this experience.

Ø  The organizers did not communicate updates on the security issues surrounding the location of the training.
Ø  As tourist, we should be observant and apply situational awareness at all times especially when you are in an area you are not familiar with.
Ø  Always avoid crowded area and if possible areas of proposed security risks.
Ø  Ensure you always have an emergency evacuation plan by identifying routes of exit; after assessing the risk of an area, always make contingency plans.
Ø  Always follow your instincts, if it looks suspicious, it probably is suspicious so thread carefully.
Ø  There is safety in numbers, do not move alone but when the team is too large, it becomes difficult to manage.

The great part of this experience was that there were no casualties among the Climate Leaders although there were a lot of near misses and the sad news is that most of us did not have the opportunity of enjoy the beautiful city of Istanbul. A survey taken from the group showed that a majority of delegates intend to visit Istanbul again to have a tour of this wonderful city.

We are all ambassadors of the climate change reality happening in our world, make a difference; spread the word.

Written by O’ Reese of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2