Building capacity for providing science advice requires simultaneously building capacity for doing science. Local context and understanding matter. In parallel to giving science advice, we need to continue to build capacity to do science.
The credibility and weight of the organizations in which individual scientists work and engage with a broader community is important. Organizations need to come together into research networks that accelerate the production of knowledge.
The ability of researchers to communicate science is critical.
The ability to provide effective science advice to governments needs to operate within an effective science and innovation system. Building individual and organizational scientific capacity is insufficient if the overall system, the key players, and the linkages between them are weak.
The result of an expert consultation, this publication examines ‘innovations systems’ – a concept suggested as underpinning industrial development – as a strategy for agricultural development. Innovation systems approaches conceptualise change as a long-term, socially-embedded process, and recognise the important role policy plays in shaping the parameters within which decisions are made. Providing a collection of papers and commentaries from the world’s top scholars and practitioners, this book looks at the strengths – but also the weaknesses and challenges – of the innovations systems approach and how it may be applied to benefit smallholder farmers.
Following a positive and large response to the two calls for proposals launched in 2016 the European Commission has selected 28 new projects – 24 small scale and 4 medium scale – to be funded under the BEST 2.0 Programme.
The small grant call targeted the Caribbean and Pacific regions and resulted in the submission of 35 eligible proposals, while 16 eligible proposals were received in response to the medium grant call targeting the Indian Ocean, Polar/Subpolar and South Atlantic regions. All 5 regions will benefit again from at least one project with a total of 19 territories targeted.
The projects aim to achieve tangible results on the ground for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation. All of the projects are aligned with relevant territorial and regional strategies.
Led by, and involving partnerships between an array of different actors, including international NGOs, territorial governments’ departments, municipalities, local socio-professional associations and local Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations, the projects address a range of issues indicated as priority areas for action in the Regional Ecosystem Profiles. These include the control of invasive alien species, management of marine ecosystems, sustainable use of water resources, restoration of coral reefs and terrestrial ecosystems and the conservation of endangered fauna and flora. A large number of the projects are implemented within priority Key Biodiversity Areas identified in the Regional Ecosystem Profiles. In addition, there is a strong focus on building capacity within the territories as well as communication and outreach activities targeting the general public.
The Pacific region can serve as an exemplar of how science diplomacy could work, according to Professor Jean-François Marini, coordinator of the EU-funded PACE-Net Plus project and former adviser to the French government on science diplomacy.
PACE-Net Plus united 16 partners in the Pacific and the EU to strengthen research cooperation between the two regions. How did you go about achieving this?
‘In order to reach this objective of a better, stronger cooperation in science, technology and innovation, the philosophy was to increase research capacity, management and dialogue, to allow the appropriation of science by the countries of the region. One of the ideas was to make information available to the Pacific states to help them to form opinions, founded on scientific evidence, and for Europe to better know the opportunities in Pacific research. At PACE-Net Plus, we have sent our recommendations to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) asking the leaders of the member countries of the region to recognise the importance of science for development, and to raise its visibility among the leaders of the Pacific region.
‘One of the outcomes that emerged is the idea that an observatory of climate change in the Pacific region would be a good tool to help ensure that scientific knowledge serves local governance. We also think, and this is important, that each country in the region should have a scientific coordinator, or a chief scientist, a function that is often still lacking.’
What can Europe learn by working with the Pacific states?
‘With climate change, emerging diseases affect more people in the Pacific and could easily become a concern in Europe. Pacific countries are also starting to think about environmental migration as the water level rise forces some islands to evacuate. There are also a number of issues that concern this region which will become global in the future, such as deep sea mining and blue growth (sustainable exploitation of ocean resources), to name just a few.’
You were working alongside the European External Action Service, Europe’s diplomatic corps. What was the reason for this?
‘In the framework of our bi-regional platforms, we worked closely with the European External Action Service because, over and above science, scientific projects such as PACE-Net Plus are also a tool of diplomatic relations between the two regions.’
How does capacity building in science help form diplomatic relations?
‘In big international fora, for example, the Pacific islands are more our partners than opponents. They take part, for example, in open discussions to agree on 1, 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius as a tolerance threshold of temperature rise for all countries in the future. This relationship with the countries of the region based on science facilitates the discussion on these global issues.’
How did you go about building this relationship during the PACE-Net Plus project?
‘In the field of climate change, for example, our thematic think tanks allowed country representatives to look at science as a development tool, to ensure that the decisions around climate are based on rigorous facts. As many of these countries deal with the reality of rising sea levels, science gives them concrete information that serves as a basis for their policymaking. This is also the case for resource management and other topics of importance such as the policies for innovation. Each year, PACE-Net also organised a large Pacific-Europe bi-regional platform dedicated to policy dialogue on science, technology and innovation cooperation.’
How will this connection between science and diplomacy evolve in the future?
‘From a European point of view, I think the next steps will consist of consolidating a coordinated approach between scientific cooperation and development aid. In other words, between DG RTD (the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation) and DG DEVCO (the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development).’
Do you think that the seeds of this enhanced cooperation are already there?
‘Yes, everything is there in the Pacific region. Everything is there for it to happen. We only need a few more actions and time to further implement it.’
So the Pacific is an environment where development science and aid can work effectively together?
‘Exactly. In the Pacific countries, we played that role by chance, by having with PACE-Net direct relationships with (government) organisations that didn’t know each other well. There was science on the one hand and development aid on the other hand. I will conclude by saying that the Pacific region in relation to Europe is prototypic. We can develop or find cooperation tools, and we can coordinate between different DGs and services from the European Commission over actions dedicated to the Pacific region, where things can be done on a human scale.’
The creation of jobs, strengthening private sector engagement, mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change and strengthened human rights and gender empowerment are a few of the impacts targeted through the new EU Pacific Regional Programme (RIP) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for which the European Union makes available €166 million. Beneficiaries are the 15 Pacific Island Countries which have signed up to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific.
This week the Fund’s Regional Steering Committee for the Pacific is meeting in Suva and brings together high level representatives from 15 Pacific countries, regional organisations, overseas countries and territories, Civil Society Organisations and the EU. The Committee will review the progress and lessons learned from previous regional programmes of over €119 million. It will also provide strategic guidance to ensure that the €166 million allocated under the 11th cycle responds effectively to the challenges faced by the people of the Pacific.
“The Framework for Pacific Regionalism has four high level objectives, relating to sustainable development, economic growth, strengthened governance, and security. Alignment of the regional EDF spending behind these areas that Pacific Leader have identified as being priorities is a best case example of the way in which our partnerships should work,” said Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor. “The European Union is an active and valued Forum dialogue partner for the Pacific region.”
Mr Jobst von Kirchmann, Head of Unit in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission said ”I am pleased about the positive spirit of our meeting and the joint commitment to do the utmost to deliver the best possible projects to those who really matter: the people living in the Pacific. To focus primarily on their needs and expectations and combining it with the expertise available in the region will allow us to get the best possible impact”.
H.E. Andrew Jacobs, the European Union Ambassador to the Pacific emphasized: “Coherence of regional support with national programmes as well as with EU support to the Pacific overseas countries and territories of EU Member States is crucial, and this week’s Steering Committee meeting will seek to ensure this is effective.”
The 11th EDF will be delivered through the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme which is coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat which is the Duly Mandated Regional Organisation for the Pacific.
The Regional Steering Committee for the Pacific meets once a year. The Committee is co-chaired by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the European Union. Countries attending the meeting this week include the Cook Islands, East-Timor, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu as well as French Polynesia and New Caledonia.
Pacific countries, in particular low-lying Small Island States (SIDS), are at the forefront facing the impact of climate change, the consequences of which will include decreased availability of lands for housing, threats to agricultural production and infrastructure, deforestation and pollution of fresh water supplies. Through this funding, the EU will assist the SIDS to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, thereby creating an impact on the ground.
Additionally, private sector development plays a key role in creating economic growth, employment and improved living conditions. Through the priority area 1 of the RIP, the EU will impact on people’s lives through increased access to goods and services, including basic ones such as clean water, sanitation and energy. It furthermore incentivises people to invest in education and skills acquisition which means a better future for the people.
The conservation and sustainable management of coastal and oceanic fisheries is another significant issue which is vital to improving livelihoods and in ensuring that the resources are sustained for the future generations will also be tackled by this funding.”
The Australian Academy of Science invites Australian research organisations and businesses to apply for funding under the Regional Collaborations Programme. This funding initiative is part of the Australian Government’s Global Innovation Strategy under the National Innovation and Science Agenda. The programme will fund Australian participants from eligible organisations to collaborate with regional and international science, research and innovation partners on solutions to shared regional challenges within the Asia–Pacific regions.
The programme is designed to be flexible, with no set minimum or maximum funding requirements for project applications. This approach has been adopted to help foster innovative ideas and collaborations.
Although there is no set minimum or maximum total project cost requirement, projects much include matched funding of 1:1 (cash only). For example, if an applicant seeks $25,000 of programme funding, then the project proponents would need to contribute another $25,000 (cash), bringing the total value of the project to $50,000.
The $3.2 million four-year programme will support single-year or multi-year collaborative, multi-partner projects and non-project aligned collaborative workshops.
The programme aims to support the Australian Government’s commitment to:
assist in the removal of barriers for researchers and businesses seeking to collaborate on issues of regional and national significance
support technical and research mobility
build research capability, facilitating Australia’s access to global science and research networks and infrastructure.
Although there are no mandated priority areas from which to draw research topics, please consider the national Science and Research Priorities and associated practical research challenges, along with regional challenges identified through multilateral fora such as eAsia, Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia Summit.
Applicants must be either an Australian research organisation or Australian business willing to form collaborative multi-partner teams with participation from at least two other economies, with the intention of building strong international linkages within the Asia-Pacific region in science, research and innovation.
The damage that tsunamis could cause is expected to rise due to climate change, say researchers who are developing a tsunami early warning system for Europe and investigating the best way to reduce their impact on people and buildings.
Tsunamis are a series of waves mainly caused by undersea earthquakes which can leave huge death tolls and destruction in their wake, and can only be predicted after the occurrence of the earthquake. They claimed the lives of approximately 230 000 people in Indonesia in 2004, 525 people in Chile in 2010, and 15 000 people in Japan in 2011.
Rising sea levels may mean that future tsunamis will have a greater impact when they happen, as more water will flood the affected area.
What’s more, while headlines in recent years have come from outside of Europe, our coastlines have also experienced tsunamis in the past, particularly around the north-east Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Researchers say these areas face an increasing level of risk due to the year-round presence of millions of tourists and the placement of critical infrastructure along the shores.
As a result, scientists on the EU-funded ASTARTE project are helping to develop a tsunami warning system that is able to more accurately forecast when Europe is at risk and will allow authorities to take swift action.
Professor Maria Ana Baptista, who coordinates ASTARTE, said: “We would like to be able to save all lives in every single event, to reach zero casualties.
“Tsunamis are a global problem, not a local problem, and European scientists should be in the forefront of research.”
Scientists have gotten faster at predicting tsunamis in recent years, though there haven’t been many opportunities to test this.
The challenge is that tsunamis can only be predicted after the undersea earthquake occurs, and in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean areas, that could mean only 10-30 minutes before they hit the shore.
Researchers on ASTARTE are now testing technology to quickly determine sea-floor movement and so give us an indication of how likely an area is to experience a tsunami.
The project is also examining a wide range of methods for improving resilience against tsunamis, from bolstering coastal defences and creating hazard maps to running informational training for coastguards on how to evacuate in the case of a tsunami.
Researchers are working at nine test sites in Europe, where they have created tsunami inundation maps displaying what regions are most likely to be affected and how. They are also designing evacuation routes and educational programmes to train civil defence forces, coast guards and regional authorities.
Prof. Baptista says that it’s important to educate all people across Europe, even those living in inland areas. “Tourists go all over the world. You can think that tsunamis are not so frequent in Europe. But the fact is that most European tourists travel to disaster-prone areas, so they must understand what is the phenomena and what to do, and how to become more resilient.”
Professor Tiziana Rossetto from University College London, UK, agrees that tsunamis can have a global impact, and not just a physical one.
“We’re globalised now, so any damage that happens to the built infrastructure and businesses in other countries can also affect the European economy,” she said. “So damage to the economy in Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand or South America will affect us, and these are all areas that are affected by tsunami, which are such major events and which devastate such large proportions of the coastline and result in major loss of life.”
Prof. Rossetto works on the UrbanWaves project, funded by the EU’s European Research Council, which is examining how tsunamis affect coastal structures, and how coastal defences could be improved to withstand tsunamis.
Her project is using brand new technology to generate tsunami-like waves in a laboratory, where the effects of tsunami on coastal buildings can be measured.
The research team built a series of flumes — huge tanks which generate mini-tsunamis — with which they run tests using model buildings to assess the damage caused. They invented a completely new kind of wave generator, which uses suction to suck air out of the tank and create really long waves, similar to tsunamis.
“Traditional generators are like pistons, they push the water. Our generators are more like a big tank that sucks the water up and pushes it down,” said Prof. Rossetto.
“These long, long waves are showing us completely different things from the shorter waves. In terms of understanding tsunamis, they’re for the first time giving us some realistic data. It’s different from what was done before.”
Using these huge tanks, plus model buildings and coastal defences, the researchers can effectively calculate what kinds of structures could potentially withstand tsunamis.
“It’s designing the engineering guidance for structures to resist tsunamis or to be assessed for their damage in the case of a tsunami,” said Prof. Rossetto.
Her team has already created some simple formulations for the forces on structures from tsunamis, and this research could help make certain important structures like nuclear reactors tsunami-proof.
They’ve also looked at designing evacuation routes for cities, like ASTARTE, but Prof. Rossetto’s research is looking at improving the design of buildings and tsunami-proof coastal defences which could provide civilians with a safe harbour to ride out the flood.
A call for projects for the French Pacific Fund has been launched for 2017. The allocated funds by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development is as in 2016, €1,500,000. The Pacific Fund could therefore co-fund approximately 40 projects, for an average of €30,000 per project. Any public or private body, institution, legal person can apply to this Fund).
Among many other projects, in 2016 this grant scheme supported the 2nd PIURN Conference; the “Pacific business Forum”, a project of epidemiological surveillance of ciguatera, and more.
The European Union’s (E.U) Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) was discussed at the National University of Samoa (NUS) on Monday.
Dr Rado Faletic, Director, Project & Communication, of Montroix Pty Ltd said that Horizon 2020 was a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, and has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.
Dr Faletic said that these programs have quick rules, with a proposal that should normally be focused on European interest. “Projects must involve a minimum of 3 different organizations from three separate European countries,” he said. “Exception to these rules is noted in the calls, especially calls focused on an individual researcher.” Dr Faletic said that a proposal must address the core requirements. “Most of the core rules are very specific and projects are not to fund pet topics.”
“But these are to fund what Europe wants and also let your European colleagues do all the hard work. Third Countries organization can participate in most calls and get funded but you cannot do it by yourself, you must be part of a European consortium,” Dr Faletic said.