Open Science Conference to Focus on Regional Challenges to the Earth System

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Global Environmental Change: Regional Challenges
An Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) Open Science Conference
9-12 November 2006, Beijing, China

Conference Venue:
Beijing International Convention Centre (BICC)
No. 8 Beichendong Rd, Chaoyang District
Beijing 100101, China

From the Amazon to Monsoon Asia to sub-Saharan Africa, regions around the world are facing unprecedented challenges induced by global environmental change. How regions can cope with the consequences of natural and human-driven changes to the Earth’s environment, what future changes they can expect, and what the nature of those changes will be is the focus of an Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) Open Science Conference being held 9-12 November in Beijing. Conference sessions will underscore how regional sustainability challenges can best be met by an integrated, global approach.

The Conference provides a rare opportunity for media to meet and chat with an international array of more than 1,000 global environmental change experts from a variety of natural and social science disciplines. Below is a list of media briefings and additional stories of potential media interest. All media briefings will be held in Convention Hall 1, Level 2.

Briefing 1: Thursday 9 November, 10:35, Opening Session, Global Environmental Change: Regional Challenges
Speakers: Conference co-chairs Gordon McBean, University of Western Ontario, and Dahe Qin, China Meteorological Administration

Briefing 2: Friday 10 November, 10:30, Plenary Session 2, Earth System Science in a societal context: The need for interdisciplinary approaches  Highlights of ESSP’s efforts to address the Earth System science -sustainability connection.
Speakers: Will Steffen, Australian National University; Diana Liverman, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University; Tony McMichael, Australian National University; Felino Lansigan, University of the Philippines Los Banos; Michael Raupach, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

Briefing 3: Saturday 11 November, 10:30, Plenary Session 3, Global Environmental Change (GEC) science links with policy and development agendas  “Science for Sustainability” is one of the Conference’s central themes and this will be an important session addressing key sustainability and policy issues from a regional and global perspective.
Speakers: Thomas Rosswall, International Council for Science (ICSU); Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA; Steve Lennon, ESKOM, South Africa; Daniel Murdiyarso, Center for International Forestry Research, Indonesia; Meryl Williams, Australian Center for International Agricultural Research

Briefing 4: Sunday 12 November, 16:00, Summary of major outcomes of the ESSP Open Science Conference, including a conference Declaration on ESSP’s commitment to provide scientific contributions to policy that will put us on a more sustainable path.
Speakers: Conference co-chairs Gordon McBean and Dahe Qin

Key Global Environmental Change issues, related conference sessions and experts:

Scientists, policy makers, and the general public are increasingly concerned about climate change – particularly change that can be attributed to human activity. More and more attention is being focused on issues such as the rising concentration of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere and on the carbon cycle in general. ESSP research on the global carbon system aims to create a better scientific understanding of the carbon cycle itself, as well as a common, mutually accepted knowledge base to support policy debate and action.
Plenary Session Day 2, Carbon in the Earth System: Dynamics and vulnerabilities; Parallel Session 9, Climate change and rising CO2: How serious is the future threat to biodiversity? Parallel Session 11, Can cities lead the way to de-carbonisation? Carbon Experts: Pep Candadell, Michael Raupach, Paty Romero Lankao

Food System Security
There is growing concern that food security – particularly for more vulnerable sections of society –  will be further complicated by global environmental change (GEC). There are also concerns that meeting the rising societal demand for food will lead to further environmental degradation which may, in turn, further undermine the food systems upon which food security is based. ESSP research aims to determine strategies to cope with the impacts of global environmental change on food systems and to assess the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of adaptation responses aimed at improving food security.
Plenary Session Day 2, How can we achieve food security in the face of global environmental change? Parallel Session 12, Integrating concepts and indicators for the analysis of agro-ecological, social and economic resilience in food production. Parallel Session 19, Global Environmental Change and Food Security in Africa.  Food System Security Expert: Diana Liverman, John Ingram

The global water system is being transformed by major syndromes including climate change, erosion, pollution and salinisation. It is clear that these changes are now globally significant and are being modified without adequate understanding of how the system works. ESSP’s research on the water system seeks to answer the fundamental and multi-faceted question: How are humans changing the global water cycle, the associated biogeochemical cycles, and the biological components of the global water system and what are the social feedbacks arising from these changes? How can we best implement environmental water allocations?
Plenary Session Day 2, Beyond conflict: Sharing the global water system for nature, food, and economic development. Parallel Session 4, Conserving ecological goods and services of the world’s rivers through environmental water allocations. Parallel Session 13, Earth System Science and observations have potential to alleviate water problems worldwide. Parallel Session 21, How do coastal and freshwater systems interact under the global water system? Water Experts: Joe Alcamo, Felino Lansigan, Robert Naiman, Charles Vorosmarty

Human Health
The scientific community recognises the growing need to better understand the multi-faceted and complex linkages between global change (including climate change, land and sea use change, global biodiversity loss and change, global socio-economic change) and human health. With its wide network of scientists involved in global environmental change research, ESSP is well positioned to take up this challenge, and is launching a new project in partnership with the World Health Organisation.
Day 2 Evening Session, NEW ESSP JOINT PROJECT LAUNCH: Global environmental change and human health: A strategy for International research and capacity building; Plenary Session Day 2, Global environmental change and human health: Issues and research needs. Parallel Session 14, Environmental change and disease emergence: Predictive approaches to a global problem. Parallel Session 15, Urbanization, global environmental change, and human health: Challenges and prospects for sustainable development. Parallel Session 20, How does global environmental change affect health and how can we measure it? Human Health Experts: Ulisses Confalonieri, Peter Daszak, Tony McMichael, Karen Seto (urbanisation)

Monsoon Asia
Monsoons play a significant role in the global climate. Scientists are trying to understand to what extent the human activities modulate the Asia monsoon climate and how the changed monsoon climate will impact further the social and economic development of Asia. A new ESSP project, Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study, will look at how societies can adapt to such impacts or mitigate them through regulating policies, law and institutions in order to achieve sustainable development.
Plenary Session Day 1: Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study. Parallel Session 6, Earth System research in Monsoon Asia.  Monsoon Asia Expert: Congbin Fu

Sea-level rise and weather extremes
A growing percentage of the human society is threatened by sea-level rise, which is a direct consequence of global environmental change. The severe threat to the people and natural environment in the world’s coastal areas is emphasized by the expected increase of weather extremes, as Hurricane Katrina recently demonstrated in New Orleans. ESSP scientists seek to provide integrated approaches to reduce negative consequences for the people in the coastal areas.
Parallel Session 26, Global environmental change, natural disasters, and their implications on human security in coastal urban areas. Parallel Session 27, Droughts, floods and heat waves in a warmer world. Sea-level Rise and Weather Extremes Experts: John Church and Nick Harvey (sea-level rise), Michael Manton (climate extremes), Nobuo Mimura (sea-level rise), Karen O’Brien (human security), Jozef Pacyna (coastal zones)

Institutional Dimensions and Governance
If designed efficiently, institutions can help address the challenges of global environmental change, particularly issues of sustainability relating to carbon, food and water. ESSP researchers undertake a major comparative effort between environmental institutions worldwide to gain a better understanding of how these institutions can contribute more effectively and efficiently to global sustainability efforts.
Parallel Session 16, Comparative governance of carbon, water and food. Parallel Session 23, Global climate governance: Taking stock and moving beyond the Kyoto Protocol. Parallel Session 30, Improving the interface between biodiversity science and policy. Governance Experts: Leslie King, Anne Larigauderie, Michel Loreau, Dave Raffaelli, Meryl Williams, Oran Young

For further information, please contact:

Mary Ann Williams
phone: +46 8 673 9562

Interesting Links – the conference’s webpage

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