From the START Secretariat

See our research in action! 

Six research projects on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in South Asia have been completed and are on display through a series of microsites. Within the sites, you can explore different facets of the projects by clicking on modules to access videos, reports, policy briefs, academic papers, case studies, workshops and trainings, blog pieces, films, and posters. This research was supported by START and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN


New resources for you: Assessments on Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture

START and UNEP partnered with several organizations to undertake a nine-city assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in Africa and Asia. The assessments examined key environmental and governance dimensions of UPA to advance understanding of how increasing urban pressures on land and water resources, and intensifying climate risks, are undermining the resilience of UPA in the face of rapid urban development.  Assessment reports are now available!  Read more about the UPA assessments or download the reports here.




Upcoming 2015 GOFC-GOLD Data Initiative Training

Building on the success of previous years' fellowships, the Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) Program will host the fourth Data Initiative, an advanced training on access, management, use and application of earth observation data, tools and methods during July 20 and August 7 2015 in the United States. The training program is designed for scientists who are associated with the GOFC-GOLD regional networks. Applications are due on Friday 10 May 2015.  Read more about the GOFC-GOLD training and application process here.




GEOSS workshops bring together science goals and earth observation tools

START recently participated in the 3rd and 4th Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Science and Technology workshops, held in Norfolk, Virginia in March 2015. Senay Habtezion from START presented a synthesis of 6 case studies on current use and future potential of earth observations in advancing environmental policy, which START facilitated (under the GOFC-GOLD Program) last year.  Capacity and knowledge needs-related insights gleaned from the case studies can inform ongoing discussions on post-2015 GEO/GEOSS agenda.

START is an observer member of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), which is implemented through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) with the goal to improve access to, and the use of, Earth observations for a broad range of stakeholders.  You can read more here about the third and fourth GEOSS workshops.



Pan-Asian Risk Reduction Fellowships Culminate in Thailand

The Pan Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Culmination Conference for the inaugural round of the program was held in March 2015, hosted by Thammasat University and SEA-START in Bangkok, Thailand. The PARR program involved 13 Science or Policy-Practice Fellows from throughout Asia who addressed issues on urban disaster risk and vulnerability under global environmental change. The 2014/2015 PARR Fellows participated in a residence of two to four weeks at one of four institutions (Kyoto University, Japan; Manila Observatory, Philippines; University of Los Baños, Philippines; and National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Risk Reduction). The Culmination Conference brought together PARR Fellows and PARR Alliance members to share experiences from the inaugural round and provide recommendations for future rounds. Read more about the PARR Fellows and Program here.




New Members Join START's Board of Directors

Since January, we've been delighted to welcome four new members to our Board of Directors and thank our outgoing board member, Roland Fuchs (former Executive Director of START), for his many years of service to START.  New board members include: 


Reneé van Kessel-Hagesteijn


Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research


Joachim von Braun


Center for Development Research (ZEF)
Bonn University



Mohamed El-Ashry

Senior Fellow

United Nations Foundation


Rémi Quirion

Chief Scientist Officer

Research Funds of Quebec




From START Regions


SEA-START's Bright Future

Hassan Virji, Clark Seipt and Sarah Schweizer, all based at the START Secretariat in Washington, DC, recently had the chance to spend the day with colleagues at the Southeast Asia START Regional Center ((SEA-START), located at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. The group spent much of their time together brainstorming strategy for solidly positioning SEA-START as an effective platform for advancing science, policy and practice priorities, both within the university and region-wide. Ideas for future actions include seminars for Chula graduate students interested in but unfamiliar with climate change adaptation, forums on moving from disciplinary to transdisciplinary approaches to research and education and summer schools that offer intensive, cross-disciplinary engagement on themes of societal importance. DC and Bangkok-based STARTers also joined with the Vice President of Research for Chulalongkorn University in welcoming a delegation from the National Research Council of Thailand to explore opportunities for future collaboration and exchange.



TEA-START Outreach

The START regional center for Temperate East Asia, (TEA-START; Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences) has sponsored an April 2015 special issue on regional climate modeling at the Journal of Climatic Change, available online now.  

CAS and NASA recently organized a joint workshop on earth observation of South Asia climate change in Kathmandu, Nepal to promote the use of EO technology in the region.  The session on downstream effects was especially relevant to science-policy interface in the region.

TEA-START Director, Gensuo Jia, was invited by the UN conference "Our common future under climate change" (Paris, July 2015) to chair a session of "Coordinated adaptation to climate change", with 3 co-chairs from UNEP, UK, and Germany.  He looks forward to this opportunity and will provide further updates after the event.



Pan-Asian Risk Reduction featured at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Last month climate leaders in disaster risk reduction and global environmental change met in Sendai, Japan at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). One of START's program partners, Antonia Yulo Loyzaga ("Toni") from the Manila Observatory in the Philippines, gave a presentation on "Building a Dynamic Rubric for Regional Disaster Science, Policy and Practice." Toni's talk introduced the Pan-Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Fellowship program to the wider DRR community at the world conference, highlighting the program's unique transdisciplinary approach, leadership opportunities, and focus on science communication.

The first round of PARR wrapped up in March, and START is looking to extend this opportunity with new funders for additional rounds of PARR fellowships.


Program Highlight: Advanced Institutes for Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR)

Advanced Institutes improve scientific capabilities in developing countries to understand and manage environmental and natural hazards and disasters. 

START has partnered with Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) to organize a series of intensive training institutes hosted by the IRDR International Centre of Excellence (ICoE) in Taipei.  These Advanced Institutes promote advancement of IRDR’s priority themes and projects. Each Advanced Institute for IRDR brings together 15-20 young to middle-career researchers and practitioners from a specific region, country or thematic expertise and provides them with the enhanced understanding, skills and resources to design, organize and carry out IRDR related studies in their own countries. Advanced Institutes incorporate experiential learning through hands-on activities and field trips, group learning, and leadership experience (see photos).

START just held our latest Advanced Institute this month on the theme of Disaster Risk Reduction and Loss Mitigation.  This training event provided approximately 19 researchers and practitioners from Southeast Asia with the enhanced understanding; skills and practical knowledge to reduce disaster risk and mitigate disaster losses in their own countries. 

This Advanced Institute covered a number of important themes, including:

  • integrative risk management;

  • disaster typologies;

  •  approaches, tools and systems for risk and loss reduction;

  • socio-economic aspects of disaster loss;

  • recovery and reconstruction after disasters; and

  • policy and planning in disaster risk and loss reduction.

The sessions included lectures by eminent scholars and practitioners in disaster risk reduction and management, hands-on interactive exercises, trainee panels, and field visits. All participants conceptualized an individual or collaborative project, that was presented in plenary session at the conclusion of the Advanced Institute, which may later be submitted for competitive funding to support follow-on research activities.

Alumni Spotlight: Ms. Ukla Kelkar

Ms. Ulka Kelkar is a Fellow with the Earth Science and Climate Change Division at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Bangalore, India.

Ulka first encountered START when she applied for an Advanced Institute on “Vulnerability to Global Environmental Change” and was accepted. In 2004, she spent several weeks at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.

Up to this point in her career, Ulka had some fieldwork and statistics experience, but was looking for guidance to take ideas forward to the next step. START’s Advanced Institute offered two unique benefits. First, Ulka received a small amount of funding for follow on research as well as a mentor, Barbara Huddleston. Barbara helped Ulka turn her raw idea into a solid research plan with participatory methodology to assess adaptation options with farming communities in the Himalayas. A second benefit from the Advanced Institute was that one year later the participants met at a culmination event where they shared their research. They were encouraged to write journal articles, which were eventually published in a special issue of Global Environmental Change. Ulka’s Advanced Institute experience of receiving expert training at IIASA, working with a global cohort of researchers, and getting published in a scientific journal, was a pivotal point in her career.

Two years later, she was teaming up with START again when she served on the steering committee of the 2006 Young Scientists Conference. START’s unique spin on this event was that each researcher got 2 minutes to present at a plenary session. This went far beyond the usual ‘poster in a hallway’ recognition and gave participants real-world experience in public speaking.

Since connecting with START early in her early career, Ulka has stayed in touch and collaborated on other activities. Most recently, she spent a week in Paris in June 2014 to help design a transdisciplinary training program on global change research. Although the proposal was not funded, Ulka hopes to do similar work on a smaller scale in India. The START model of hands-on learning and training that incorporates research grants and follow-on networking events is something that Ulka strives to incorporate in her research program design. “That has a tremendous impact,” she says.

In the future, Ulka looks forward to implementing adaptive governance—finding innovative ways to change the silo structures of government and policy in cities and agricultural regions.

We wish Ulka much success as she continues her important work to equip India to adapt to climate change one community at a time!



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