Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting in India Draws Participants from 9 Countries


The GLOBE Asia – Pacific Consortium meeting took place in Agra, India on April 17th – 20th, 2009, and was attended by representatives and Country Coordinators from 9 (of 16) Asia-Pacific GLOBE countries: Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Maldives, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. This was the first meeting in the region since the GLOBE Asia-Pacific Consortium was established in the Philippines in 2007. This year's meeting provided participants with the opportunity to share information about their individual successes and challenges in their region's GLOBE implementation and to sow the seeds of strengthened regional collaboration.

GLOBE Asia-Pacific Consortium participants
GLOBE Asia-Pacific Consortium participants

The regional meeting took place in the historic city of Agra, home of the World Heritage site, the Taj Mahal and location of an extensive GLOBE India UNESCO research project. Delegates were hosted by Mr. Raj Mehta, GLOBE Country Coordinator of India and Chairman of the GLOBE International Advisory Committee (GIAC) and Dr. Desh Bandhu, director of the GLOBE Regional Office in New Delhi.

Mr. Raj Mehta and Dr. Teresa Kennedy, Deputy Director of GLOBE, provided an update on new initiatives and projects in development in the region and at the GLOBE Program Office respectively. Dr. Desh Bandhu, President of the Indian Environmental Society, and Ms. Nandini McClurg, North America Regional Desk Officer, also provided introductory remarks. For the next 4 days, the Conference Center in Agra became the site for candid discussions among the participants, great presentations by participants and exchange of ideas to grow, nurture and strengthen GLOBE in the Asia-Pacific region.

On the bus to Agra
On the bus to Agra

A topic of interest to everyone in the region was the establishment of the GLOBE Asia – Pacific Regional Desk Office now located in New Delhi, India. Dr. Kennedy outlined the services and responsibilities that the Regional Office will provide to all countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, to ensure regional support and sustainability of the GLOBE Program.

 

These basic support services include:
• Identification and generation of external funding from sources within and outside of the region;
• Translation of relevant materials in the languages of the region;
• Dissemination of information to community members through E-mail and Skype correspondences, newsletters, information posted on the region's Web site and other forms of communications;
• Recruitment efforts towards building strong community membership to strengthen current GLOBE countries and to bring new countries within the region to form GLOBE partnerships;
• Strengthening of GLOBE Alumni, Parent, and Scientist networks, to assist with logistical organization of Regional Events (such as regional meetings and training events) and to provide science support and mentoring to regional student research campaigns; and
• Recordkeeping, and administrative and evaluation activities, including assistance to countries as needed in completing annual surveys and conducting Partner administrative duties (such as posting workshops and issuing school IDs).

Working groups present reports
Working groups present reports

Mr. Mehta presented a follow-up report on regional activities undertaken since the last official meeting in the Philippines in 2007, and stressed the need to focus on ongoing activities to promote regional sustainability including fundraising, continuing the focus on Inquiry-Based Student Research, integration of GLOBE into school curricula, and encouragement of an ongoing exchange of information between regions. He also shared information about the Climate Change Research and Education Workshop, held on 25-28 January 2009 at the WMO Headquarters in Geneva and attended by 43 climate scientists, educators, administrators and students from around the world. The task assigned to these participants was to identify researchable topics on climate for the GLOBE Climate Research Campaign. Suggested areas include Water, Weather, and Climate; Carbon, Energy and Climate; and Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Climate.

As the meeting progressed, Mr. Mehta and Dr. Kennedy also presented a list of regional priorities based on the original Memorandum of Understanding signed by each participating GLOBE country. This list of priorities will guide the development of a sustainability plan for GLOBE in Asia and the Pacific.

Promoting and Strengthening Regional and International Implementation
(Chair: India; Members: Fiji, *Mongolia, New Zealand, *Palau, Philippines, Thailand)
Tasks: Developing GLOBE implementation models to be shared throughout the region;
Identifying and involving GLOBE Alumni in regional priorities and initiatives;
Exploring possibilities of exchange visits for GLOBE trainers and teachers to other countries within the region, and promoting collaboration with other regional consortia.

Strengthening National Implementation
(Chair: Philippines; Members: Bangladesh, Maldives, *Marshall Islands, *Pakistan, *Palau, Sri Lanka)
Tasks: Developing strategies to encourage community participation in GLOBE activities to include GLOBE in the school activities as well as in textbooks in each country (e.g. GLOBE integration into national curricula of each country in the region); Developing training, implementation and follow-up models throughout the region to facilitate refresher courses for GLOBE teachers; and Developing mechanisms to support the infrastructure of GLOBE Country Coordinators across Asia and the Pacific.

Developing Regional and International GLOBE Projects and Collaborations
(Chair: Thailand; Members: Bangladesh, Fiji, *South Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, Sri Lanka)
Tasks: Establishing a process for regional project development, dissemination, implementation and documentation of results; Identifying mechanisms for involving scientists in the region in GLOBE student research activities; and identifying mechanisms to increase the activities of GLOBE teachers and schools including, but not limited to, GLOBE games, other regional competitions related to GLOBE protocols and projects.

Developing the Regional Master Trainer Corps
(Chair: Maldives; Members: India, Fiji, *Mongolia, *Palau, Philippines, Thailand)
Tasks: Monitoring the Regional Master Trainer Program and supporting and facilitating the organization of regional TTT workshops. It was agreed upon that this program is to be finalized within 6 months.

Enhancing Communication
(Chair: New Zealand; Members: *Australia, Maldives, *Micronesia, *Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka)
Tasks: Establishing a mechanism for regional communication (e.g. regional newsletter) and Identifying mechanisms to communicate regional activities to community members (e.g., promotional materials that can be used nationally and regionally to highlight GLOBE).

Developing a Regional Sustainability Plan
(Chair: Nepal; Members: India, *Japan, Maldives, *Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Thailand)
Tasks: Seeking sponsors for national and regional GLOBE activities and identifying regional equipment suppliers.

*denotes countries not present at this meeting

It was further agreed upon that the GPO GLOBE International Advisory Committee ( GIAC) regional representative (currently Mr. Raj Mehta), along with a representative from the Chairing country of each of the 6 working groups, will form the GLOBE Asia-Pacific Regional Consortium Organizing Committee. This Committee (not to exceed seven members) will be responsible for taking forward and developing the priorities of the GLOBE Asia-Pacific Regional Consortium. More information about the work of the committee is located on the Asia-Pacific Regional Web site.

GLOBE Alumni Presence at the Regional Meeting
Ms. Watcharee Ruairuen, Thaichairperson for GLOBE Alumni in the Asia-Pacific region, shared her enriching experiences regarding Alumni activities and encouraged all GLOBE Asia-Pacific Country Coordinators to help their teachers in recruiting and nominating students in their regions to join the alumni. This is a valued group that provides important student feedback into the implementation of GLOBE activities in the region. To date, 15 Alumni have been identified in the region.

The group visits the Taj Mahal
The group visits the Taj Mahal

The regional meeting ended on 20 April 2009, with a visit to Dr. B. M. Roy Higher Secondary School where 72 students and 8 GLOBE Teachers shared their GLOBE activities and GLOBE Regional Meeting delegates shared their GLOBE country experiences with the students and teachers at the school. Dr. Desh Bandhu spoke about the world heritage site project which was conducted by IES and was supported by GLOBE Program Office and UNESCO. GLOBE students studied the impact of environmental impact on the Taj Mahal analyzing the environmental data using the GLOBE protocols and instruments. Through this project, the school community, as well as the local community, became aware of the issue of heritage conservation and eco-restoration activities to protect the Taj and other World Heritage sites from deterioration.

Youth Forum on Climate Change and Global Warming 21-23 April 2009

A student demonstrates her project at the Youth Forum on Climate
A student demonstrates her project
at the Youth Forum on Climate

Following the Asia Pacific Meeting in Agra, the group returned to Delhi to take part in the Virtual Youth Forum on Climate, which took place on 21-23 April at the Indian National Science Academy. The event drew student participants from all across the Indian subcontinent and provided young people with an opportunity to learn more about climate and to engage in discussions about student climate research alongside scientists, educators and policymakers.
The program opened with welcoming remarks by Dr. Desh Bandhu, Mr. Raj Mehta, Dr. Teresa Kennedy and Dr. R.K. Garg, Vice-President of the Indian Environmental Society and Dr. Craig Blurton, Former GLOBE Director. Dr. Matthew Rogers, CloudSat scientist from Colorado State University, engaged the students in a discussion of weather and climate observations while informing them of CloudSat that GLOBE students are engaged in across the globe. Afternoon presentations by Prof. N.K Uberoi, of the International Management Institute, India; Mr. Sanoway Hossain, Deputy Country Coordinator of GLOBE Bangladesh, concerning Climate Change Issues in Bangladesh; Dr. S.K. Nigam on creating a national climate change action plan in India, and Mr. Ango Konyak and Mr. Takum Chang regarding climate change imperatives in Nagaland, India, completed the agenda for a very full day.

Students of Bal Bhavan Public School in Delhi Celebrate Earth Day 2009
Students of Bal Bhavan Public School
in Delhi Celebrate Earth Day 2009

 

Day 2 of the conference fell on Earth Day. GLOBE staff was invited to visit two Delhi Schools, Bal Bhavan Public School in Swasthya Vihar and Vishwa Bharati Public School in Noida, to observe their Earth Day celebrations, which included celebratory parades through their neighborhoods, tree plantings, poetry readings, dramatic presentations, and art contests using found objects. The GLOBE staff wishes to thank these schools for their marvelous celebration of Earth Day and their exemplary hospitality. At the conference, students were presenting their climate change projects on solar energy, mining methods, medicinal plants, and rainwater harvesting. Participating were Indian students from the following schools:
• D.A.V School, Berhampur, Orissa
• Warangal Science Club, Andhra Pradesh
• St. Peter's High School, Delhi
• Rashtriya Military School, Karnataka
• Hans Raj Model School, Delhi

These students also displayed their presentation materials, alongside posters by other visiting students, throughout the conference.

Original play about Mother Earth by students of the Vishwa Bharati Public School, Noida
Original play about Mother Earth by
students of the Vishwa Bharati
Public School, Noida

Speakers Dr. Matthew Sanderlands, Science Advisor at the American Embassy in Delhi and Mr. Sohinder Gill, of Hero Electricals completed the morning. Following lunch, the spotlight was back on the students who presented poems and readings to celebrate Earth Day.

One the final day of the conference GLOBE Country Coordinators presented brief reports on GLOBE activities in their countries, to inform the students of GLOBE opportunities in the region. The conference concluded with a pledge to Say No to (traveling in) Private Vehicles on 5 June 2009, World Environment Day.

 Students from the D.A.V Public School with Dr. Matthew Rogers and Nandini McClurg

Students from the D.A.V Public School
with Dr. Matthew Rogers and Nandini McClurg

In advance of the actual live meeting in Delhi, a Web site had brought online from 6 April in which students were able to register their climate research materials, and to begin an online dialogue with each other about climate issues. Meeting participants and online participants were encouraged to continue their discussions online based on new information acquired at the Delhi event. The interactive Web site was available to registered participants throughout the month of May.

7 August 2009




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