The European Alliance is a bottom up association of members of the National Committees (NC) of the four international global environmental change programs (IHDP, DIVERSITAS, IGBP, WCRP).
Establishing a European Alliance
Part of the IGBP congress was a two-day meeting of the National Committees (NCs) in the Stellenbosch Botanical Garden (Cape Town, 2008). This meeting aimed to improve the regional networks by recognizing important regional differences. Furthermore, it provided a platform for exchanging information and experiences with training, integrative projects, data sharing as well as linking science, policy and other stakeholders with each other. The meeting proved to be an excellent opportunity to discuss and enhance the (future) role and structure of the NCs and improve the link with IGBP as well as the other global environmental change (GEC) programs and ESSP. We strongly appreciated all the efforts invested by the organizers in making the NC meeting a success. The presence and leadership of Carlos Nobre (Chair), Mark Stafford-Smith (Vice Chair) and several SSC members and officers clearly indicates that IGBP desires a stronger involvement of the NCs. This will definitely help to build a stronger community.
A common theme that emerged was the role that NCs together with the GEC programmes and ESSP could play in enhancing the recognition of governments to global change issues, including mitigation and adaptation. During the regional breakout sessions, the NCs from Europe and Russia gathered for the first time and further discussed this theme. In total 12 European (incl. Russia) countries were represented. It was clear that the mandates and structures of NCs strongly differed. Some only address IGBP issues, while others are responsible for all global change programs. Some NCs only stimulate national contributions with limited means, while others decide on the distribution of the national global change research funding. A few national committees are very well linked to all the activities of IGBP, while others are more disconnected. Some are not familiar with the ESSP and the ongoing collaborations between the GEC programmes. To summarize, there is considerable heterogeneity among the NCs.
During the discussion it was recognized that broadening the scope of the NCs by including all GEC programmes (WCRP, IGBP, DIVERSITAS, IHDP and ESSP) is essential to build an effective European community. Furthermore, there is a clear need for co-ordination of training. For example, many summer courses on global change are organized or dedicated MSc programs are currently being developed. The NCs could facilitate the dissemination of information on these activities and stimulate their students and researchers to participate. Furthermore, the NCs could also help to identify and exchange guest lectures.
The launch meeting
All participants agreed at the meeting in Cape Town that to create an Alliance was an excellent initiative but necessary steps must be taken to ensure its implementation. Nelson Lourenco (NC Portugal) and Wolfram Mauser (NC Germany) took the first step by organizing a meeting in Lisbon in 13-14 November 2008, where all European NCs were invited. This inaugural meeting established the European Alliance of NCs and paved the way for an active collaboration.
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