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 https://www.millenniumhotels.com/

Tbilisi Marriott Hotels http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tbsmc-tbilisi-marriott-hotel/

Radisson Blu Iveria https://www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-tbilisi

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

For further information, please contact Senay Habtezion shabtezion@start.org



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.