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Development Data Experts Gather in Cape Town

Fri Jan 20 00:00:00 EST 2017

CIESIN director Robert Chen (left) with Talip Kilic senior economist, Development Data Group, The World Bank

The first United Nations World Data Forum brought together more than 1,000 experts on sustainable development data and monitoring from approximately 100 countries to Cape Town, South Africa, January 15–18 to consider data challenges and opportunities associated with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the international community in September 2015, significant improvements are needed in the breadth, quality, and timeliness of a diverse set of socioeconomic and environmental data and indicators, not only to support monitoring of the SDGs, but also to facilitate effective sustainable development decision-making from local to global scales. With this in mind, the UN Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG) recommended the establishment of the World Data Forum in its 2014 report, A World That Counts. CIESIN director Robert Chen, who served as a member of the IEAG, was invited by the UN Statistics Division to join the Forum’s Programme Committee in July 2016. He coordinated more than six different sessions dealing with open data principles, technical standards and best practices, applications of geospatial and remote sensing data, and development of new data tools and services. He also gave a presentation on legal interoperability of data, based on the work of the Legal Interoperability Interest Group of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), which he co-chairs.

The Forum also served as a venue for several side events and activities. On January 19, Chen participated in the Third UN Data Innovation Lab workshop, organized by the UN World Food Programme and UN Global Pulse. He gave a presentation to mid-career staff from various UN and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on CIESIN′s partnership with Facebook and the World Bank in developing new high resolution settlement layer (HRSL) data, and ongoing efforts to develop a broader “data collaborative″ for georeferenced population, settlement, and infrastructure data. Chen also participated in January 15 and 19 meetings of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), a global network of governments, NGOs, and businesses working together to mobilize data in support of sustainable development. CIESIN is an Anchor Partner of the GPSDD and also works closely with other members such as the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

The UN World Data Forum was hosted by Statistics South Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Center. The next Forum will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in 2018.

See: Earth Negotiation Bulletin coverage of the UN World Data Forum


January Meeting to Strengthen Ties Between Diverse Communities

Sat Jan 14 00:00:00 EST 2017

The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) held its winter meeting January 11–13 in Bethesda, Maryland, bringing together a diverse group of producers, managers, distributors, and users of earth science data around the theme, “Strengthening the Ties Between Observations and User Communities.” Greg Yetman, CIESIN associate director for geospatial applications; Robert Downs, senior digital archivist; and John Scialdone, Data Center Services manager, represented the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), an ESIP “Type 1” member, at the meeting. Yetman gave a presentation as part of a panel  “.Earth Science Data for Informing Decisions,” and Downs co-chaired a session, “Measuring the Value of Data,” with Ruth Duerr of the Ronin Institute. Downs also presented a poster, “Adoption of the Group on Earth Observations System of Systems Data Management Principles at a Scientific Data Center.” At the ESIP Assembly Meeting January 12, Downs was elected to the ESIP Governance Committee as the Type 1 representative. ESIP now includes more than 180 partners working cooperatively on the collection, stewardship, and use of earth science data, information, and knowledge in ways that are responsive to societal needs.

See: 2017 ESIP Winter Meeting
       "Measuring the Value of Data"--panel presentation slides


Vulnerability Assessment Results Shared with Stakeholders in Sierra Leone

Mon Jan 09 00:00:00 EST 2017

Preliminary results of a vulnerability assessment (VA) for Sierra Leone were presented recently by CIESIN associate research scientist Sylwia Trzaska in a series of meetings there in December 2016, sponsored by the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA-BiCC) project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The WA-BiCC project addresses direct and indirect drivers of natural resource degradation, aiming to improve livelihoods and natural ecosystems across the region. The first meeting in Freetown December 5–6 included an option analysis with project partners and a presentation to a wider audience from the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Protected Areas Authority, other government agencies, and international and non-governmental organizations. Trzaska subsequently participated in meetings December 7-15 with community and partner groups in six coastal locations where data collection had taken place. The feedback and results of the option analysis will be used in finalizing the VA and developing recommendations.

Following her trip to Sierra Leone, Trzaska travelled to Bamako, Mali, where she conducted a three-day, hands-on training on climate predictability for forecasters from Mali’s meteorological service, Mali-Météo. The training focused on the Climate Predictability Tool (CPT), developed by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) for seasonal climate forecasting.


New Year Begins with New Visitors

Thu Jan 05 00:00:00 EST 2017

This January, CIESIN has welcomed two new visitors, Haibin Xia from East China Normal University (ECNU), and Lucile Maertens, a post-doctoral fellow in political science and international relations supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Xia began a one-year research visit January 4. Now an engineer with the ECNU School of Geographic Science in Shanghai, Xia received his PhD, master's, and bachelor degrees from the ECNU College of Resources and Environment Science. At CIESIN he is continuing his research on the biophysical and climatic correlates of population distribution in China, which he presented January 12 at a brown bag lunchtime seminar at the Lamont campus. He will also work with Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications, on a new project on climate change migration modeling.

Lucile Maertens arrived January 9 with an appointment as a part-time postdoctoral fellow at CIESIN through August 2017. Maertens is an associate researcher at Sciences Po in Paris and has been a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London. She has a PhD in political science from Sciences Po and the University of Geneva (Switzerland). She is studying interactions between security, environment, and climate change, focusing in particular on United Nations practices related to security and environment in Haiti. At CIESIN, she is working with Alex de Sherbinin and CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy.


Symposium Focused on Reconciling Development and Conservation in Central India

Mon Jan 02 00:00:00 EST 2017

About 70 experts from academic, government, and private sector organizations met December 14‒17, 2016, at the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India, for the Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS). Pinki Mondal, senior research associate at CIESIN, was a co-organizer of the 2016 Symposium, which focused on the theme, “Reconciling Development, Livelihoods and Conservation Goals.” She also co-chaired the session, “The Future of Water, Climate, and Agriculture,” and gave an oral presentation, “Implications of Agricultural Intensification for Diet and Nutrition in Central India.” The Symposium concluded with a presentation by Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office in Maharashtra. Local partners in organizing the Symposium included the World Wildlife Fund-India and the Satpuda Foundation.

See: Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS)