START GOFC-GOLD Summit in Tbilisi Looks at Strengthening Regional Information and Knowledge Networks

Leaders of Global Observation of Forest Cover and Land Dynamics (GOFC GOLD) regional networks convened in Tbilisi, Georgia, during September 13-16 for the 2017 GOFC-GOLD Regional Network Summit. The Summit assessed past performance of regional networks and their future direction – it also provided an opportunity for cross-network learning and knowledge sharing. It was also attended by GOFC-GOLD Executive Committee members and other partners.

The meeting brought together 45 participants from 20 countries from Africa, Asia, South America, Eastern and Southern Europe and the United States. Mr Nodar Khatishvili, Deputy Director of the Scientific-Research Center of Agriculture of Georgia, opened the meeting. The Georgean Ministries of Environment, Agriculture and the National Public Registry Agency were also represented. The Summit included presentations by regional network members, facilitated discussions as well as field trips.

The Summit was preceded by a two-day kickoff meeting launching the Caucuses Regional Network (CaucRiN).

GOFC-GOLD Regional Networks are a key part of the GOFC GOLD capacity building function. The Networks enable data providers, scientists and operational users to articulate information requirements and improve their access to and use of Earth observations. They represent a critical link between national agencies, user groups and the global user/producer community, and NASA Land-Cover and Land-Use Change (LCLUC) scientists.

Echoes in Space – Introduction to Radar Remote Sensing Online Course

ESA, the European Space Agency, is launching a free online course on Radar Remote Sensing.

“Echoes from space” will take you on a journey through the exciting world of Radar Remote Sensing. Learn the basics that will help you to understand where this technology is coming from, how the images are acquired and which manifold applications already use Radar Remote Sensing to help protect our planet.

Read more


CaucRiN GOFC-GOLD Regional Network Kick-off Meeting commences

The GOFC-GOLD Caucasus Network Kick-off Meeting commenced today, September 11 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The meeting brings together 36 participants from 10 countries in the Caucasus region, working with remote sensing on land cover change issues in the Caucasus region. The meeting was opened by Mr. Iuri Nozadze, Georgian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Prof. Levan Ujmajuridze, Director of the Scientific Research Center of Agriculture, Georgia. The opening session featured presentations from Senay Habtezion, START, Garik Gutman, NASA, Olga Krankina, past GOFC-GOLD Regional Network Coordinator and Jana Albrechtova, coordinator of the SCERIN Regional Network.

The meeting will continue for the next two days and will include introductions and discussion among scientists and practitioners from the region (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Russia), the US (University of Wisconsin) and scientists with research interest in the region from the University of Reading; the KMUTT Geospatial Engineering and Innovation Center, Thailand and others.

A new addition to existing GOFC-GOLD regional networks, the CaucRin Network will be coordinated by Volker Radeloff, University of Wisconsin in collaboration with scientists in the Caucasus region.

The meeting is organized and funded by START, though a grant from NASA, under the GOFC-GOLD program. It is organized by START in collaboration with the Agricultural University of Georgia.

2017 GOFC-GOLD Regional Networks Summit

The Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) Regional Networks Summit will be held during September 13 – 15 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The GOFC-GOLD program, a coordinated effort to improve access by developing country scientists and decision makers to existing earth observation data, increase scientists’ capacity to utilize and produce data needed for research and natural resources management, and foster regional and international networks of scientists interested in remote sensing and natural resources management, is implemented through collaborating networks of data providers, data brokers and data users. GOFC-GOLD Regional Networks enable data providers, scientists and operational users to articulate information requirements and improve their access to and use of Earth observations.

These Networks enable calibration, validation and improvement of methods and algorithms and integration of in-situ and remote sensing observations; are a common arena for users and researchers operating in a specific geographic area; and offer a mechanism for sharing of resources and expertise. They represent a link between national agencies, user groups and the global user/producer community, and NASA LCLUC scientists.

The 2017 GOFC-GOLD Regional Networks Summit will assess past performance of regional networks and discuss their future direction – it will also provide an opportunity for cross-network learning and knowledge sharing. The meeting will be attended by regional network members, GOFC-GOLD Executive Committee members and other partners. The Summit will be preceded by a 2-day kickoff event (Sep 11-12)  for the Caucuses Network, a new addition to existing GOFC-GOLD networks in the region.

With support from NASA under the GOFC-GOLD program, START is organizing the Summit bringing together regional network leaders, GOFC-GOLD Executive Committee members and other partners involved in Earth observations research and capacity building. Participants will discuss the state of GOFC-GOLD regional networks, and will share knowledge and best practices in network self-governing and ensuring their financial and operational sustainability.

This invitational Summit is being organized in collaboration with the Agricultural University of Georgia and is funded by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Venue: Agricultural University of Georgia, main building, II flour, large conference hall,

Address: 240, David Aghmashenebeli Alley, 0159, Tbilisi, Georgia

We have blocked rooms at MERCURE Tbilisi Old Town and IBIS Styles Tbilisi and encourage all participants to stay in these hotels. For self-funding participants, additional hotel options include the following:

The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi

Tbilisi Marriott Hotels

Radisson Blu Iveria

The workshop is by invitation only. More information, including summit agenda, will be available soon.

For further information, please contact Senay Habtezion



START International named 3rd Top Climate Think Tank for North America

The International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG) announced today the 2016 Climate Think Tank Rankings. START International was named 3rd Top Climate Think Tank for North America under standardized ranking, measuring the think tanks’ efficiency in per capita/researcher terms.

The ICCG ranking recognizes the best think tanks active in the field of climate economics and policy. It takes into account the performance of a think tank in conducting high quality research and its role in influencing climate-related and energy policy.

The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) was named Top Climate Think Tank under standardized ranking, and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) was recognized Top Climate Think Tank under absolute ranking, measuring the think tanks’ performances regardless of their efficiency and hence size.

Read the ICCG’s press release

START’s Executive Director and Board Chair Meet Key Global and European Organizations


This gallery contains 4 photos.

Last week START’s Executive Director Cheikh Mbow and Board Chair Ghassem Asrar met with key organizations working on scientific research, climate and Earth observations. This gallery features photos with leaders and representatives from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the European Space Agency, …

The Intangibles that Matter: Non-Economic Loss and Damage

By Justin Charles G. See, PARR Fellow

“The floods swept away everything we had – even our dreams and our future.”

This was the testimony of Maricel, a resident of Barangay Tumana, Marikina City, at the end of our key informant interview. I was accompanied by my field interviewers in a visit to the communities living under the Tumana bridge, a flood-prone area just beside the Marikina River in the Philippines.

Our team went to Bgy. Tumana, Marikina City (a flood-prone community beside the Marikina River)

Our team wanted to know more about the experiences of loss and damage from the community members themselves. The questions we prepared were supposedly simple and straightforward – we wanted to know how many pesos they lose / spend every time their particular area gets flooded after a typhoon. But the responses they gave were much more complex. They incurred losses and damages that they cannot easily quantify in pesos. In climate change literature, these are called non-economic losses and damages, or NELD.

What were these losses that were difficult to quantify?

The residents we talked to reported about the significant impact of floods on their health. Most of them, especially the children, complained of respiratory illnesses and diarrhoea after every typhoon. Some of the adults got diagnosed with leptospirosis – a disease caused by bacteria usually carried by rats. These illnesses hampered the ability of the respondents to be productive in work or in school. Worse, a number were forced to stay home in order to recover.

A number of residents also talked about the impact of floods on their environment. They were energized when they recalled how they were able to swim or bathe in the river before. Some recounted how they bonded with their neighbours while washing clothes together. I was amazed at how their eyes lit up with the stories on how their grandparents were able to catch fish. “We used to harvest kangkong (water spinach) and labanos (radish) right here near the river. Then we would go and have picnic with family”, said Rolando. However, he claimed that his family couldn’t do any of these things anymore. The floods have made the river impossible to swim / bathe in / have picnic with family.

Key informant interviews with community members: we asked them about loss and damages after typhoon

The floods also have a substantial effect on their connections with other people. Sociologists call these links and shared understandings/ values as Social Capital. When asked about whom they go to for help in times of disasters, majority of the people we interviewed reported to have no one to go to. This was based on their experiences right after Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). Very few people helped them out, and majority of those who helped were family or relatives. This resulted to a lack of trust towards other people.

The most heart-breaking story I heard that day was that of Maricel. Tears streamed down her face as she recounted how her mother died during Typhoon Ondoy, “As the water was quickly coming in, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to save my mother AND my five children. But things turned out differently…” Today, seven years after the typhoon, Maricel still finds it difficult to move on from the death of her mother. “My mother and I wanted to start a small restaurant just nearby. She was a good cook; I miss her adobo… Now that she’s gone, no one will cook my favourite adobo anymore. Our dream of starting our own restaurant too – it’s gone.” For Maricel, the loss of her mother meant more than an economic loss; it was a loss of a particular family arrangement, a loss of a special relationship, and a loss of a bright future for her family.

Health, Environment, Connections, and Human Lives – these encompass just some of the many non-economic losses and damages – intangible aspects of people’s lives that are difficult to measure yet they do matter. It is high time that we pay attention to NELD – as these are sometimes more important to people compared to the monetary losses.