Earlier this week I had the pleasure of joining with scientists and development experts at a workshop jointly sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The workshop focused on ways to re-energize scientific collaboration between the two agencies and help developing countries deal with challenges in climate change, biodiversity and human health, and geospatial analysis capacity. It brought together NOAA’s and USAID’s scientific and technical experts in a range of fields including science-based ecosystem management, weather monitoring and forecasting, climate services and analysis, satellite-based and information services, and spatial analysis and geospatial technologies.
The workshop fits within the Administration’s larger efforts to make better use of science, technology, and innovation for global development under President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development. OSTP Director John Holdren and USAID Administrator Raj Shah have noted that as a global leader in science, technology, and innovation with $148 billion invested in domestic research and development (R&D), the United States can have a significant impact in developing countries by applying its technical expertise to global challenges.
Past successful collaborations between NOAA and USAID include the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System that was established after the devastating tsunami of 2004. Current joint efforts between the two agencies include the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), which uses satellite and ground-based data to provide timely food security information for 25 countries in Africa and other parts of the developing world and the U.S. Coral Triangle Initiative Support Program, which aims to improve the management of millions of hectares of coastal and marine ecosystems to protect food security and strengthen resilience to climate change for the 363 million people who live in this area. At a time when we are all reminded that natural disasters anywhere in the world can have widespread and even global implications, it was inspiring to see NOAA and USAID building their shared capacity to understand and respond to challenges beyond our borders.
This latest collaboration between USAID and NOAA is a great example of how U.S. R&D can be leveraged efficiently to accelerate growth and make societies around the world—including our own—more resilient to environmental changes around the globe.
Kudos to NOAA and USAID for putting on this workshop!
Hillary Chen is a Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy