• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: November 24, 2008

Science, Social Solutions Key to Sustainable Land & Water Use in Egypt

Press release |
Land degradation, over-irrigation and desertification in Egypt and other semi-arid areas of the Earth are adding further stresses to regions already under pressure from global environmental change, according to research presented at a workshop on  “Sustainable Water and Land Management in Semi-Arid Regions”.
The workshop, held on 20 and 21 November and co-sponsored by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT), provided a forum for local and international researchers to highlight land- and water-related problems in semi-arid regions and propose adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are facing large changes in land use as well as related stresses to their water supplies. Global environmental changes will strongly affect the region too, causing an expected average temperature rise in Egypt of 1 to 4 degrees C by 2060, and a decline in annual precipitation by 10 to 40% over much of Egypt by 2100.

Sustainable responses to the environmental stresses facing Egypt and other MENA countries require cooperation among scientists from multiple disciplines and regions who need to consider the Earth as an integrated system. This approach, known as Earth system science, characterises IGBP’s international, interdisciplinary research. Egypt has been an active participant in the IGBP network and has established a national IGBP committee to coordinate global environmental change research in Egypt and to network with other MENA Earth system science researchers.

The workshop aimed to refine IGBP’s scientific agenda for applied Earth system science and sustainability in the MENA region and to identify where IGBP and MENA researchers can better contribute to addressing mitigation, innovation and adaptation, large-scale pilot projects and institutional networking.  Sessions focussed on drought, water use, land degradation and desertification, among other topics, and included presentations by MENA scientists as well as international experts and leaders of several IGBP projects on land, atmosphere, historical perspectives and modelling.

The MENA workshop included a session on the African Network of Earth System Science (AfricanNESS), an initiative launched at IGBP’s Congress in South Africa in May 2008. The goal of AfricanNESS is to develop a network for global environmental change in Africa.

More than 85 scientists from 17 countries, representing different disciplines, attended the workshop. Participants re-affirmed the importance of Egypt and other MENA countries’ participation in IGBP research in order to understand pressing environmental changes, to assess vulnerability and to develop effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. Strong social and economical components are needed as well, to achieve sustainable development on a participatory basis.

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