ZSI_Voices in May

21. Mai 2013

Editorial: Contributions by Martin Felix Gadjusek, Teresa Holocher-Ertl and Barbara Kieslinger

Topics like climate change as well as innovative forms of research such as citizien science projects for sustainable solutions have become change making and leading the way for our society.

The growing importance of research in the domain of climate change is given and attested through common databases, the definition of common research needs in relevant policy areas. These are fields where international research cooperation can contribute practically and by developing a roadmap of future joint STI activities. An example: in 2012 a workshop of the FP7 project IncoNet EECA  was organised that focused on the take up of international climate change strategic documents and conventions in countries’ policies and operational instruments with STI relevance. “Climate Change” is regularly reflected in strategic documents linked e.g. to environment policy, energy policy and related fields in the region. An established database gives evidence on the recent developments for some world regions.
Still, dedicated climate change strategies on a horizontal level and covering the whole spectrum of policy areas could not be observed, although general guiding documents and e.g. presidential decrees give evidence of the importance of the topic for a number of policy areas. Links to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC);  the Kyoto Protocol (KP), where not all countries are included in Annex B; the Global Environment Facility (GEF); the cooperation with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) exist in Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries. The support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment programme (UNEP) was important for policy take up. These efforts of institutions and key players cannot be observed yet in the practical take up for STI in funding programmes, which could be another important step.

Martin Felix Gadjusek, project manager at ZSI's unit Research Policy & Development (F&E)

“What you hear, you forget. What you see, you remember. And what you do, you understand.”
Adhering to this slogan a growing movement which can help to raise public awareness and understanding for climate change is called “citizen science”. Citizen science is an innovative concept to involve the general public in scientific processes. It assumes that the collaboration between scientists and volunteers from the broader public in experiments helps science to depart from its “ivory tower” and increases the awareness and understanding of fundamental research topics amongst citizens. In citizen science, people from all walks of life use basic scientific protocols and tools to gather and analyse data and bring in their own ideas and solutions.
Citizen science centers benefit from the contributions of volunteers to investigate local indicators of climate change, individuals are asked to contribute their observations on changing natural events, and networks of volunteer scientists help researchers with the alternative collection of e.g. weather data. In the Temperature Map App from the SOCIENTIZE project, volunteers from different European communities will contribute temperature data from inside and outside their houses and thus improve energy models used for green and efficient urban planning. The data collected by volunteers will feed several interactive real-time maps, which are presented to the broader public via artistic media installations on public places to raise awareness not only amongst volunteer participants, and to disseminate research results even further. More on citizen science in general and specific experiments, open for volunteer contributors, can be found on the web platform of the project of SOCIENTIZE.

Teresa Holocher-Ertl, project manager at ZSI's unit Technology & Knowledge (T&W)

In GLOBALexcursion we started recently with our series of "Meet the scientist" online sessions and already held two successful sessions, one with Doñana Natural Park in Spain and the other one with the Nanoscience Lab of Cambridge University. The aim was to connect teachers and their students live with scientists. The scientists would show part of their work and teachers and students could interact with them by asking questions. The next session will be held on the 24th of May at the BIFI data center in Spain, which hosts more than 6.000 computing cores running applications from many fields like drug discovery or CERN CMS, presenting its monitoring tools in a nutshell. Also they will present a biotechnology laboratory working with human stem cells. Scientific and technological context will be provided, introducing the challenges facing today in this multidisciplinary center – a reference in e-science in Europe.  You find more information on all these sessions on our facebook site

Barbara Kieslinger, project manager at ZSI's unit Technology & Knowledge (T&W)

Tags: citizen science, climate change

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