06-15 April 2011 – Asuncion, Paraguay
The goal of this Training Institute was to provide scientific information and knowledge to support land use planners, decision-makers, and stakeholders on rural development, land use change and conservation in the La Plata Basin (LPB) region. Scientific information and data on land use, hydrology, and climate were integrated to guide sustainable social and economic rural development in the region. Participants also became familiar with data analysis tools and evaluated the consequences of land use change on water and food security.
The Training Institute explored the interactions between natural and human components of agroecosystems in the LPB, taking advantage of an interdisciplinary approach for land use change analysis using existing data sets. We assessed risks and opportunities offered by increasing global demand for agricultural commodities and biofuels, and the impacts of agricultural expansion and intensification on ecosystems goods and services. Emphasis was on the interactions between land-use, ecosystems, climate and hydrology. Through lectures, discussions, case studies and hands-on exercises, we explored climate, social and economic contexts and their links to drivers of land use change. We also sought to encourage communication and collaboration between the scientific and policy communities and to explore the science-practice interface. Presenters and participants both contributed to the discussions and outputs for a mutually beneficial learning experience.
The Science & Policy Forum and Training Institute were funded by Canada´s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF). A co-sponsor was the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS) program.
The Training Institute was co-organized with and hosted by the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales (FaCEN)/Universidad Nacional de Asunción (UNA).
Repercussion in the country
The president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, and the mayor of Asuncion, Arnaldo Samaniego, officially declared the IAI Training Institute to be of national and municipal interest, respectively, given its intellectual merit in providing capacity building on important issues such as agriculture, food and water security.
Science-Policy Forum and Training Institute Program
1. Concepts on environmental change:
• Ecosystems goods and services
• Land cover and land use change, natural and human factors
2. Interactions between land-use, ecosystems, climate and hydrology: natural and agricultural ecosystems
3. Alternatives of energy generation from ecosystems, including biofuel crops and natural ecosystem biomass
4. Land cover and land use change effects on water and nutrient cycling
5. Decision Support Systems to help agriculture and natural resource industries mitigate risks associated with climate variability and change
6. GIS technology as a tool of landscape analysis
The 10 day program of the Training Institute had interacting components: lectures, discussion sessions, and practical exercises. The lectures helped participants to obtain a progressive understanding of the theoretical background and the multi-scale interactions of climate, ecology, biodiversity, hydrology, land use, economics, and social development. This was complemented with hands-on training. A field trip was part of the program to allow participants to interact directly with stakeholders (e.g. farming cooperative and a water resources agency involved in decision making on land and water use).
Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI)
Holm Tiessen, Executive Director
Christopher Martius, Director for Science Programs
Marcella Ohira, Director for Capacity Building
Luciana Londe, Assistant for Capacity Building
Roseli Luz, Assistant for Science
Constantino Guefos Kapsalis, Dean, FaCEN/Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Paraguay
Fernando Méndez, Director LIAPA/FaCEN/Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Paraguay
Vicky Ballester, Universidade de São Paulo- Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (USP/CENA), Brazil
Esteban Jobbágy, Universidad Nacional de San Luis, Argentina
Guillermo Podestá, University of Miami – Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, USA