Transdisciplinary Network on Indigenous Knowledge and Disaster Risk
Two years ago (December 2013) in New Zealand, 25 early career researchers from around the world met for an intensive two-week START seminar on Risk Interpretation and Action (RIA).
Participants reviewed the RIA framework under the theme of ‘decision-making under conditions of uncertainty’, and developed novel theoretical approaches to respond to and improve this framework which were published in a 2014 edition of the Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies. Integrating indigenous knowledge into disaster risk reduction emerged as one of six key issues affecting risk interpretation and action, and a working group from the seminar was awarded a follow-on grant to continue their work.
The Indigenous Peoples and Disaster Risk Reduction Project is an outgrowth of this follow-on grant. The project aims to advance the formation of an international network and community of practice of indigenous and non-indigenous scholars. In addition to the website to connect global researchers, they have also produced a video about indigenous peoples affected by hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.
Click here to read more about the RIA Seminar outcomes and the Indigenous Peoples and Disaster Risk Reduction Project in a blog written by Dr. Simone Athayde, who is one of the working group leaders.
Zoomed in on Earth Observation and Governance
In Africa, complex relationships between modern and traditional governance systems and global change dynamics do not adequately address
the gamut of human-natural system interactions. In the past couple of years, START has coordinated two workshops that have resulted in recent publications on the issues of earth system governance and earth observation for sustainable development.
The first paper argues that examination of the governance-GEC nexus through the aid of the Earth System Governance (ESG) Framework would provide a much broader and more helpful insight. It's based on a scoping workshop organized by START and representing a diversity of disciplines, including political science, law, geography, natural resources management and environmental sciences. The 17 attendees of the 2013 Earth System Governance workshop (all serving as authors of this article) developed a comprehensive strategy paper on key research needs in ESG research in Africa. This article presents the key insights in an abridged version.
Senay is presenting this paper now at the Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-V) conference in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. CCDA-V’s theme for this year is “Africa, climate change and sustainable development: what is at stake at Paris and beyond?”
The second paper stems from a 2014 workshop on the role of earth systems observations in environmental policy. This paper addresses the issue of how geospatial technologies could play a significant role in the development and strengthening of national policy and decision-making. In developing countries, the uptake and usage of geospatial science and technology is constrained by capacity and institutional handicaps.
The impetus for this special issue publication were six case studies led by thought leaders from five countries in Africa on current use, and the potential for future use, of Earth observations in policy formulation and implementation in Africa. Case study authors came together with representatives from the NASA, USAID, the World Bank, US universities, GEOSS and AfriGEOSS to take part in a scoping workshop held by START last year. This
summary article presents a brief summary of insights on the
environmental policy support role of Earth observations based on the case
studies coordinated by START.
START Welcomes New Staff
In August, START welcomed two new Program Specialists, Dr. Mary Thompson-Hall (photo: left) and Ms. Niki West (right).
Mary has a master’s and PhD in geography from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor's in environmental studies from University of Tennessee. She has several years of experience conducting research related to vulnerability and adaptive capacity of social actors in Ghana and Malawi and managing a USAID project in Zambia. Mary was most recently a post-doctoral researcher at the Basque Center for Climate Change in Bilbao, Spain. Mary is the leader for START's Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) program.
Niki has a master's in environmental management from Duke University and a bachelor's in business from Alberta School of Business. Much of her international experience has been in Asia through program development and project management. Her last post was an Energy Policy Analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver, BC. Niki is managing START's Pan-Asia Risk Reduction Fellowships and other programmatic efforts.