Belmont Forum: Scoping workshop to identify regional research and training priorities on CEH in Latin America & Caribbean Countries

To identify the most critical obstacles in using environmental and climate information for the reduction of health risks and inform actions in the health sector, the IAI co-hosted with the Belmont Forum and US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) a scoping workshop on the research needs at the intersection of climate, environment and health. The outcomes of the workshop will guide the call text for the upcoming Collaborative Research Action (CRA) on Climate, Environment and Health (CEH2), which is anticipated to be issued by the Belmont Forum in early 2022. Results will also guide the focus of regional training workshops with TD seed grants to be hosted by the IAI in 2022.

The session took place during AmeriGEO and convened more than 30 countries, which brought a high diversity of participants from both the environment and health sectors, who demonstrated an interest in building bridges across different areas and countries, and between authorities, researchers and technical staff.

The emphasis was on establishing common themes and transdisciplinary frameworks that can be put into operation within the context of Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with its own cultural challenges, in articulation and through the design of public policies considering the historical and social context of the region.

Among the main concerns were data: access to data, methodologies for collecting data, transparency in data and participation for data collection. That is, the management of information and the creation of databases that can make more realistic an effective the implementation of programs. This is not only a task of scientists, but also of protocols and policies that allow this type of data management.

The large participation in the workshop demonstrates the great interest in global environmental change, and therefore the crucial role of the IAI in continuing to strengthen knowledge in the area, which is now more recognized as urgent and important. Indeed, there is a growing demand at the interface of politics and science, as well as the need for transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, for the participation of different actors from the design of research and data collection, to its articulation and communication of results.

Several IAI STeP Fellows supported the IAI's CEH2 Scoping Workshop: Ana Watson (IAI), Alice Grossman (AAAS STPF, US NOAA), Monica Jimenez (Mexico City Health Secretariat), Daniel Jimenez (Mexico City, Transportation Secretariat), Shweta Ganapati (Mitacs Canada, NSERC) and Meagan Postema (AAAS STPF, US National Science Foundation). Meagan, who works with the Belmont Forum Secretariat where she supports the operation of several funding calls, was pleasantly surprised with the high turnout and the success of the workshop, in part thanks to the support of STeP fellows to plan and execute the event: "The IAI was able to bring a large, diverse group of researchers and public officials from across the Americas to collaborate and share their interests and priorities around climate, environment and health, using multiple platforms". Ana Watson, a STeP Fellow at the IAI who led the organization of the workshop is now supporting the preparation of the report.