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News from the International START Secretariat

START launches its Literature Resource Center

The START Literature Resource Center is now on-line! This webpage provides a searchable database of scientific literature on global environmental change topics of importance to the developing world. This resource is intended to enhance the ability of developing country researchers, resource managers, policy experts and others to remain up to date on scientific literature.

Click here to visit START's Literature Resource Center.



Global Change Governance

START participated in the annual research dialogue at the fortieth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advise (SBSTA 40) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 7 June. Click here to view START's submission to SBSTA


START also co-organized a roundtable on Earth System Governance in Africa at the annual Earth System Governance Conference held in Norwich, UK 1-3 July. The roundtable looked into ways and means of fostering research networks in ESG research in Africa, building on the scoping workshop we organized in Accra in September 2013.  Click here for more information about the ESG conference.

 



START Staff and Alumni Develop Transdisciplinary Training Initiative

Transdisciplinary (TD) research approaches for generating actionable knowledge are becoming increasingly critical for addressing the complex challenges of global environmental change; however, training opportunities are lacking in how to organize, conduct, manage and evaluate TD research. In June, ISSC, ICSU, NRF (South Africa) and START invited seven experts to design an innovative TD training initiative.

START Board Member Heide Hackmann, START alumni Shuaib Lwasa, Ulka Kelker, and Katharine Vincent, and START staff member Katie Dietrich participated in the two and a half-day workshop that will result in a proposal to implement a collection of training opportunities for international research programs on global environmental change.


News from START Regions

 

Meet START's Newest Regional Fellow: Rungkarn Rujiwarangkul

Rungkarn Rujiwarangkul began her START Regional Fellowship in December 2013 at the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for START (SEA-START) in Bangkok, Thailand.  She works alongside Suppakorn Chinvanno on international communication tasks and will be supporting the upcoming Greater Mekong Sub-region project funded by the Asian Development Bank. 

Prior to working at SEA-START, Rungkarn was a news correspondent for the National News Bureau of Thailand,  a project coordinator/business developer for an engineering and alternative energy company, and a freelance translator.  She holds a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Master's in Management. In her free time she is a sports addict. 





SEA-START: New Climate Change Adaptation Research Program in Thailand

SEA-START RC, in collaboration with Thailand Research Fund (TRF), is establishing a climate change adaptation research program in Huay Luang District of Udon Thani, a northeastern province of Thailand. The program mainly focuses on integrated assessment of multiple risks across multiple sectors at different scales in the studied area. This is the first time SEA-START is attempting to carry out a research program using a holistic approach with multi-disciplinary researchers, ranging from social science to physical science, from 10 universities partaking in the program.

It will include 6 areas of studies as follows: 

  1. Risk on water resources from climate change

  2. Change in flood patterns in the city and surrounding areas as a result of climate change

  3. Change in saline soil distribution and characteristics in the district

  4. Risks on agricultural systems

  5. Flood risk in urban and surrounding areas

  6. Adaptation to climate change capability assessment of risk-prone communities

SEA-START is in charge of designing and managing the program under funding from TRF. The studies outcomes are expected be synthesized into climate change adaptation strategies for the district and the province within 18 months.  Click here for more information on this Greater Mekong Region project.



 

TEA-START: Expanding and Hosting a Training on Ecosystem-Climate Interactions

Center Expansion

Six new members, including 1 senior professor, 2 visiting professors, and 3 assistant professors, joined the START Regional Center for Temperate East Asia (TEA-START) in 2014. TEA-START currently has 48 employees, including one academician and 14 senior professors in multiple disciplines such as atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, geosciences, and ecology, along with over 30 graduate students. Prof. Howard Epstein from USA and Prof. Jason Evans from Australia joined TEA-START as Chinese Academy of Sciences Senior International Visiting Professors.


Upcoming Event: International training on ecosystem-climate interactions (8-20 September; Beijing, China)

This training will provide young researchers and practitioners from Asia-Pacific countries with advanced knowledge and skills in this fast-moving field, and to enhance the environmental capacity building for the regional sustainable development. The training course is sponsored by APN, and organized by TEA-START. It will address various scientific aspects of interactions between ever changing ecosystem and climate. The training sessions will cover multi-platform observation, trends and impacts analysis, and ecosystem and climate modeling. The curriculum will comprise lectures, seminars, along with site visits and excursions in CAS research facilities and field stations.  Read more about this TEA-START training here.



 

Future Earth: Recent Africa and Asia Developments

The 2nd International Workshop on Future Earth in Asia took place in February 2014 in Kyoto, Japan. START's Executive Director, Hassan Virji, attended and shared his expertise on capacity building efforts for global change in Asia. Click here to read more about this Future Earth Asia event.

 

In May, a meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa was sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida). Experts from Africa and around the world, including Hassan Virji from START, gathered to discuss how to proceed in developing a structure/platform for Future Earth in Africa. A report from ICSU is forthcoming.





Alumni Spotlight: Malisa Goodluck

For the past two years, START has been partnering with the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania (UDSM) to develop climate change curricula throughout their programs of study. Malisa Goodluck is in the first cohort of students working towards a Masters of Science degree in climate change and sustainable development at the Centre for Climate Change Studies (CCCS), UDSM.

Malisa joined the CCCS program because of his interest in forestry and ecosystem conservation. He wants to improve current conservation policies, and realized that he needed an advanced degree and research experience to achieve that goal. “I’m here so that I’ll be in a position to speak towards the policy makers,” he says. During his time at CCCS, Malisa has been impressed with both the course’s popularity among students, as well as the friendly and flexible administration at the Centre, about which he says, “they listen to us and act.”

Now in his second year and working on his thesis, Malisa has been involved in a wide range of opportunities that use his skills and knowledge from the MSc program. Through the CCCS, he has supported the implementation of outreach programs including an international conference on climate science in October 2013 and a public dialogue with pastoralists and other stakeholders. Outside of academia, the coursework has increased his ability to advocate and raise awareness of climate change issues with the Climate Action Network-Tanzania and through his church diocese.

Malisa and his fellow students at CCCS face challenges amidst their studies. Gathering the financial resources to pay for school is often a struggle, as is finding the time to participate in fieldwork outside the classroom. In the end, Malisa feels his effort and sacrifice will be worth it, as he hopes to impact present day policies, as well as future generations. He says, “I’d like to go back to forestry-related work but also start my own consultancy to help school students know about climate change.”

 


 

Program Highlight: Global Observation of Forest Cover an Land Use (GOFC-GOLD)

Although remote-sensing earth observation data are readily available to scientists and other users in developed countries, access remains a primary challenge for developing country scientists, practitioners, and decision makers who need it to manage natural resources and develop coping strategies to reduce vulnerability to change.


Through its partnership with the Global Observations of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) project, START contributes to a coordinated effort to improve developing country access to existing data, increase scientists’ capacity to utilize and produce the data needed for research and resource management, and foster regional and international networks of scientists interested in forest cover and land dynamics.


START plays a major role in Fellowships to support periodic GOFC-GOLD Data Initiative and Advanced Training Institutes.  Recently we sponsored three participants from Africa and South America to attend the Zoological Society of London Symposium “Remote Sensing for Conservation: Uses, Prospects, and Challenges” and one-day GOFC-GOLD/GEOBON workshop on biodiversity monitoring in tropical forest areas. Read more about this GOFC-GOLD event here.


* This GOFC-GOLD theme diagram is from the Global Observing Systems Information Center.



 

Publications


START alumni publications


We love keeping in touch with our program alumni!  Recently, we've been pleased to hear of the following publications authored by START alumni.
  • Shiraz Wajih, a START grant recipient for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) research in South Asia, wrote a process document about "Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation and DRR in Development Planning."

  • Henry Tonnang and Richard Kangalawe, participants in START's African Climate Change Fellowship Program and 2010 Tanzania Science-Policy Dialogue have had their research published in the Malaria Journal. [Tonnang HE, Kangalawe RY, Yanda PZ: Predicting and mapping malaria under climate change scenarios: the potential redistribution of malaria vectors in Africa. Malar J; 2010;9:111 PMID: 20416059]

  • START alumnus from the Graduate Student Research Opportunity in Climate Risk Management, Joshua Zake and his research partner M. Hauser have recently published their research in "Environmental Hazards" [Hauser: J. Zake & M. Hauser (2014): Farmers' perceptions of implementation of climate variability disaster preparedness strategies in Central Uganda, Environmental Hazards, DOI: 10.1080/17477891.2014.910491]

  • While catching up with Juan Carlos Antuña Marrero, we learned of two publications that resulted from his Visiting Scientist Fellowship with START.    [Antuña, J.C., A. Fonte, R. Estevan, B. Barja, R. Acea, and J.C. Antuña, (2008) Solar Radiation Data Rescue at Camagüey, Cuba. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 89, 1507–1511.]      [Antuña, J. C., R. Estevan, B. Barja, 2012: Demonstrating the Potential for First-Class Research in Underdeveloped Countries: Research on Stratospheric Aerosols and Cirrus Clouds Optical Properties, and Radiative Effects in Cuba (1988–2010). Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 1017–1027.]

  • START alumnus and Director of the Temperate East Asia Regional Center for START, Gensuo Jia has co-authored an article recently published in Climatic Change. [Jia, G., R. Xu, Y. Hu, Y. He, 2014, Multi-scale remote sensing estimates of urban fractions and road widths for regional models, Climatic Change (in press), DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1114-3]

 

START features in other publications

Responding to the threats and challenges of global environmental change is a world-wide team effort.  We at START are pleased to work with so many talented individuals and partner organizations.  Here's what we've been doing together:

  • Senay Habtezion and Clark Seipt from the International START Secretariat wrote an article on urban governance related knowledge needs in Africa that was published in the May 2014 issue of UGEC Viewpoints, by Urbanization and Global Environmental Change (an IHDP core project).

  • Jon Padgham from the International START Secretariat has been featured as a guest blogger for the Climate Development Knowledge Network where he wrote about the challenges and opportunities for linking climate information on Africa with user needs. Check out Jon's piece about CORDEX-Africa here.

  • The Southeast Asia Regional Centre for START (SEA-START) was highlighted in a publication from the Asian Development Bank featuring their work on Climate Change and Rural Communities in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

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