Phoebe's European Travels
It’s a busy and inspiring summer for CBI’s Chief Science and Policy Officer, Phoebe Barnard who is taking CBI’s work to the top ranks of international global systems analysis communities for collaborative talks. Phoebe travels on external funding to Vienna and Zürich in June and July 2019, first stopping in Vienna to meet existing and potential collaborators at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA (June 28-29), and continuing on for a review of the University of Zürich (June 30 – July 6).
IIASA, often nicknamed “the scientific U.N.” for its history and its extremely international staffing and expertise, grew in the 1960s as the “East-West Institute” through discussions between the US and Soviet Union. After World War II, it became evident to world leaders and the scientific community that a growing number of complex scientific and technical problems could no longer be handled on a narrow national basis, and a global approach of international cooperation was required. IIASA is housed outside Vienna in the historic and grand castle known as Schloss Laxenburg, the summer palace of the seat of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Phoebe has collaborated with IIASA global change scientists and systems analysts Dr Matthias Jonas of IIASA’s Advanced Systems Analysis Program and Dr Wei Liu of its Risk and Resilience Program since 2015-2016, when the national environmental futures program that she started in South Africa launched a project analyzing the effect of large-scale infrastructure on biodiversity across the African continent. This project is undertaken by PhD candidate Lavinia Perumal and her supervisors, including Phoebe, Wei, Matthias and Prof Mark New of the University of Cape Town. More recently, in 2019, Wei and Matthias have been planning with CBI and Rwandan academic, government and nonprofit partners a national early warning system for biodiversity and natural hazards, which is at the fundraising stage. Phoebe will also meet with the IIASA Director-General, Prof Albert van Jaarsveld (a friend and colleague from Millennium Ecosystem Assessment days) and head of Ecosystem Services and Management Program, Dr Michael Obersteiner, about expanding the IIASA-CBI collaboration to increase mutual effectiveness in evidence-based decision support and policy around the world for biodiversity and ecosystems.
Then, in Switzerland from June 30 - July 6, Phoebe and top US earth observation science administrator Dr Ghassem Asrar will conduct their second midterm review of the University of Zürich’s huge and well-funded global change biology research program. This is a commitment made in 2014, and a great honor and responsibility involving nearly a week of detailed assessments, interviews, a scientific conference and team travels. Most of the work will take place at the quirky Monte Verità, a former utopian nudist and vegetarian colony from the early 1900s in the Swiss Alps, and now a lively center for work such as this.
Phoebe is grateful to the University of Zürich and IIASA for their collaboration and travel support to enable these strategic meetings.