Walter Baethgen, research scientist and director of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Program at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has been invited to become a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI).
The IAI is a regional scientific institution which aims to develop capacity for understanding the integrated impact of global change on regional and continental environments in the Americas and to promote collaborative research and informed action at all levels. Supported by 19 countries in the Americas it is dedicated to pursuing the principles of scientific excellence, international cooperation, and the full and open exchange of scientific information to increase the understanding of global change phenomena and their socio-economic implications.
"One of the most valuable contributions of the IAI has been the establishment of regional research networks because, on the one hand, it helped the lesser-developed countries to increase their research capacity in the global arena and, on the other hand, it provided more developed countries with excellent research issues and problems to establish their studies,” said Dr. Baethgen.
Dr. Baethgen has been involved in designing the agenda of the IAI since its creation in 1992. It was born in response to the need for a regional consortium to address global issues. Originally comprised of 16 countries in the Americas, the IAI became fully operational in 1996 when the Directorate was moved to the campus of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) in São José dos Campos, Brazil.
In the 16 years since its creation, IAI has been instrumental in bringing about a major evolution in the contribution of scientists from lesser developed countries in the Americas by creating a scientific community and promoting communication. In so doing, Dr. Baethgen and his colleagues have made a significant impact on the scientific landscape. As a result of IAI’s efforts and established networks the scientific research capacity throughout the Americas has greatly improved.
"The IAI is one of the few organizations that have significant funds to support research in Global Change in the Americas," said Dr. Baethgen. This is significant because of the general tendency for Latin American research projects to receive less funding from the international community due to the overall relative wealth in the region compared to other research "hot spots" like Southeast Asia or Africa.