Researcher seminar in New Delhi:
Norway and India discuss water and climate change
Norwegian and Indian researchers met recently to discuss challenges in the field of water and climate research and the potential for collaboration. The seminar is a milestone in the increasingly close research cooperation between the two countries.
The seminar was organised jointly by the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (Bioforsk) and the Indian Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), with funding from the Research Council of Norway. The seminar was part of the annual conference on sustainable development, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2011.
The two-day seminar, at which there were some 90 Norwegian and Indian participants, was opened by Director-General of TERI Dr Rajendra K Pachauri. In Norway Dr Pachauri is known for his participation in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was Dr Pachauri who received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on behalf of the IPCC.
The seminar was held as part of the visit to India by Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland. India’s new Minister of Water Resources Shri Salman Khurshid was also present.
“It is not easy for researchers to design climate models that are accurate enough to measure climate impacts, predict climate change and provide a basis for planning. More research is needed to fill the current gaps in knowledge. Knowledge-sharing and technology exchange across national boundaries are also crucial in this respect. Indo-Norwegian research cooperation is a good example of how such knowledge-sharing works in practice,” stated Minister Aasland.
Cooperation programme between Norway and India
In August 2009 the Norwegian Government launched a strategy for cooperation between Norway and India in a number of areas, including research. Some USD 3 million per year for a period of five years have been allocated to Indo-Norwegian research projects. This has included the establishment of the Programme for Research Cooperation with India (INDNOR), which is administered by the Research Council of Norway. As of December 2010, 24 projects and events had received funding under the INDNOR programme.
The seminar on water and climate change is a milestone that bodes well for further Indo-Norwegian research cooperation. The seminar highlighted key challenges in the field of climate research, and also provided an important meeting place and networking opportunity for relevant research groups in Norway and India.
Minister Aasland used the occasion to announce a forthcoming call for proposals related to water and climate change, which will be issued in 2011. The call for proposals will be a collaborative effort by the INDNOR programme and the Research Council’s Large-scale Programme on Climate Change and Impacts in Norway (NORKLIMA).
“We have gradually built up a large portfolio of joint Indo-Norwegian research projects, funded both by the Research Council and by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi. The visit by the Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education has been extremely beneficial and opens up exciting opportunities for developing this research cooperation further,” said Executive Director of the Research Council’s Division for Society and Health Jesper Simonsen.
“My impression is that interest in India is very high as regards cooperation with Norwegian research institutions in certain specific areas – such as polar and climate research, global health, socio-economic research and water, which we have been discussing here. The fact that so many Norwegian Centres of Excellence (SFF) are involved also helps to make us attractive as research partners,” stated Mr Simonsen.
“For Norway the challenge lies in creating value added through improved coordination of research activities. We hope that our research cooperation with India will in time also include the exchange of students at master’s and doctoral level,” he continued.
India lacks data
The primary focus of the seminar’s thematic sessions was on climate and hydrological modelling and scenarios as well as integrated management and policymaking.
Identifying and filling the knowledge gaps will be a key issue in the future. There was broad agreement on the need to integrate and coordinate research projects as well as climate models. Norwegian expertise is highly sought-after particularly with regard to establishing data sets in the field of climate research in India.
It is important to agree on the scientific data sets that should be used as a basis for research, modelling and adaptive responses. Fine-tuned, relevant data sets are essential if we are to be able to implement effective measures at the national, regional and local levels. The research community will play an important role in this respect, but the authorities must also take responsibility for ensuring the development of long-term and continuous data series. The Indian participants also stressed the need to draw on the knowledge of relevant local actors and to involve them to a greater degree in the projects.
Several Norwegian research institutions organised events in connection with the ministerial visit to India. On Wednesday Minister Aasland officially opened a centre for natural disasters at the National Geotechnical Facility in Dehradun. The facility has been expanded and upgraded with up-to-date research equipment.
The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) launched its cooperation with India as early as in 2002 and has assisted in the upgrading of the facility, with funding from the Research Council of Norway and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi. The National Geotechnical Facility will design infrastructure, conduct analyses, train researchers to use advanced laboratory equipment and estimate the risk of natural disasters. Dr Suzanne Lacasse, Managing Director of NGI in Oslo has played a key role in these efforts.
Bioforsk used the occasion of the Minister’s visit to launch a book containing results from the first phase of its ClimaRice project, which focuses on climate change adaptation and rice production.
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