IAI Science Agenda

The Scientific Agenda of the IAI is defined in Article III of the Agreement establishing the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research. Article III explicitly defines the agenda as an “evolving Scientific Agenda” with an appropriate balance among the biogeographical areas of scientific importance and also with an integration of scientific, economic and sociological research. Moreover, the focus of research is based on regional issues as determined by the IAI Conference of the Parties.

The Agreement listed 7 areas of initial research:

a) The study of tropical ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles;
b) The study of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity;
c) The study of El Niño Southern Oscillation and interannual climate variability;
d) The study of ocean/atmosphere/land interactions in the intertropical Americas;
e) Comparative studies of oceanic, coastal and estuarine processes in temperate zones;
f) Comparative studies of temperate terrestrial ecosystems;
g) High latitude processes.

The Conference of the Parties, at its 5th meeting (CoP-5, Montevideo, Uruguay, 1998) adopted Decision V/6 which revised the Scientific Agenda by consolidating the initial 7 areas of research into 4 areas:

I Understanding climate variability in the Americas:

  • ENSO and interannual climate variability;
  • Ocean-land-atmosphere interactions;
  • Hydrology (water resources).

II. Comparative studies of ecosystems, biodiversity, land use and water resources in the Americas:

  • Tropical Ecosystems and Biogeochemical Cycles;
  • Biodiversity;
  • Comparative Studies of Oceanic, Coastal, and Estuarine Processes;
  • Comparative Studies of Terrestrial Ecosystems;
  • Changes in Land Use, Land Cover, and in Hydrology and Water Resources.

III. Changes in the composition of the atmosphere, oceans, and fresh waters:

  • High Latitude Processes (Ozone);
  • Biogeochemical Cycles;
  • Comparative Studies of Regional Air and Water Pollution.

IV. Integrated assessment, human dimensions and applications.

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), at its 18th meeting (Mendoza, Argentina, 2003), confirmed the validity of the four areas of research of the Scientific Agenda but agreed on the need of reviewing and updating them. The SAC established two working groups of members to re-draft the paragraphs under each area of research. The recommended text, Document EC-XVII-CoP-X, was presented to the Conference of the Parties at its 10th meeting (Boulder, United States, 2003) for its consideration.

The advice of the SAC was adopted by CoP10 in Decision X/11.

During the intersessional period of 2018-2019, the SAC and the SPAC revised the Scientific Agenda to better reflect emerging national priorities and to discuss its alignment with the new IAI Strategic Plan. The SAC and the SPAC were of the opinion that the four areas of research remained relevant to meet the challenges posed by global change but revised slightly the subjects under each of the four areas. Additionally, during discussion under this agenda item at CoP-27, Canada recommended a few additional revisions to the text of the Agenda. The revised Agenda was adopted at CoP-27 by consensus. The full text of the Agenda is available here.