Futurearth workshop to kickoff on 17 September

Friday, 13 September 2013 02:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Shabiya Ali Ahlam A comprehensive two-day workshop on safeguarding the environment via sustainable research and development (R&D) will be held next week in Colombo. Organised by the Coordinating Secretariat for Science and Technology and Innovation (COSTI), the workshop titled ‘Futurearth’ will be from 17 to 18 September 2013 at the Galadari Hotel. The event is expected to be attended by 150 participants from the public and private sectors. The guest of honour for the event will be Senior Minister for Scientific Affairs Professor Tissa Vitharana and the key note address will be delivered by Nobel Laureate in Science Professor Y. T. Lee who will speak on the topic ‘Sustainable Transformation of Human Society’. Futurearth will feature as facilitators for the technical sessions University of Zurich Prof. Heinz Gutscher, ICSU ROAP Director Prof. Nordin Hasan, and PIM Director Prof. Uditha Liyanage. Areas that will be covered during the event include the introduction to the Global future Earth program, understanding earth system science, regional and local perspective on the development of Future Earth initiatives. Existing research activities at national and international level that could be linked to a Future Earth program in Sri Lanka will be identified along with the development of an R&D agenda for Future Earth in Sri Lanka. In addition to this, the workshop will also focus on research priorities, funding mechanisms and global partnerships. Having linked with the international Future Earth program, which is a 10-year Science Technology and Innovation (STI) on Earth System research, the event aims at fulfilling a number of objectives. The workshop intends on developing a common understanding of the Future Earth initiative amongst Sri Lankan scientists, policy makers, high ranking governmental officials, funding agencies and other relevant stake holders. While it will help identify regional partnerships and national research priorities that will help the Future Earth program, the event will discuss opportunities and challenges in implementing the said program in Sri Lanka. Futurearth will also explore best ways of establishing a national and regional interface for the international program. Addressing a press conference which took place this week, Senior Minister Vitharana said the workshop is being held to complement the program for rapid national socioeconomic development, coordinated and monitored by COSTI. “With this workshop we hope to expedite the implementation of the STI strategy which was approved by the cabinet. It is important to ensure that the process of rapid development does not damage our environment and should take place in a sustainable manner. The learning from the workshop should be used to formulate research programs that will be sustainable in the interest of our future generation,” Prof. Vitharana added. Speaking on the operations of COSTI, COSTI Project Director Prof. Ajith De Alwis said that the institution was established on February 2013 as mandated by the cabinet decision of September 2009. With the specific aim of coordination and monitoring STI activities in the country, COSTI will also work towards promoting value addition and commercialisation that is in line with the STI strategy. “With the establishment of COSTI, we hope to formulate a way forward for coordination between the research institutes. The institution will also work towards increasing the high tech exports of Sri Lanka from 1.5% to 15% by 2016,” noted Prof. Alwis.