Framework for Int’l Centre for Biodiversity Research assumes form
After three days of intense consultations the International Centre for Biodiversity Research and Low Carbon Development is beginning to assume form.
Initially, the Centre was part of the University of Guyana’s Strategic Plan, it also shares a spot in the Government’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) as one of the seven priority areas for proposed investment of the Norway Funds.
The purpose of the consultation was to develop a Conceptual Framework for the Centre that will eventually be used by the University to guide the next steps of the development of the centre. Members of the government, local stakeholders and international experts were also recruited to provide their input and to therefore help shape the Framework.
Ms. Nicola Swerhun who holds an Honours Degree in Ecology and Evolution as well as an MBA, is a specialist in the design and delivery of multi-stakeholder decision making processes. Over the three days of the workshop she served as Facilitator of the Sessions and yesterday during the wrap-up session provided a synopsis of the work done on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The participants all contributed their views on their vision for the Centre which Ms. Swerhun presented yesterday. Among these were the expectations that the Centre would collect and archive biodiversity information, be a centre of “excellence, innovation and leadership”, be inclusive and include among its partners government, the private sector and the university. Indigenous people were expected to have a key role in the centre’s development and operation, not only in its definition and implementation but in the transmission of the unique knowledge base that these peoples have of the environment.
The Centre should support the LCDS; should involve the work of students and research done at the Centre and should be shared under clear protocols which must be decided upon.
The participants were also able to provide advice in the context of their many different fields of expertise on a number of key issues that needed to be addressed. Some of these issues were use of the Centre as a research or a training institution, developing capacity to do the research, mobilizing financial resources to ensure sustainability and the governance structure to be used.
Under the issue of using the Centre for either research or training, the advice returned by the participants was to strike a balance between the Centre’s Research and Development Function and its educational role. To develop the Centre’s capacity to do research, it was advised that it was best to invite “renowned researchers to build mentorship programmes”, to have a steady stream of funding to support the Centre’s research and to maximize the opportunities for funding.
Funding was also part of another key issue that takes into consideration the need to mobilise financial resources to ensure the sustainability of the Centre. The advice of participants on this issue ranged from engaging the private sector – including taking biodiversity to the sector and not expecting them to come on their own, resource generation through educational efforts, clarifying the extent of government financing and seeking funding in collaboration with other institutions were all levelled as possibilities for addressing this concern.
Also mentioned was the creation of a training programme that was meant to bridge the gap between training and research needs of management to their academic capacity. It was advanced at the presentation that there is ongoing work between Guyana and Suriname to develop what was called an inquiry-based problem-solving training programme that can see this knowledge applied in the field. The program centres around research for conservation Science and Practice and is operated at the Post Graduate and professional level. The course has already been established in Suriname and it is hoped that its successful set-up and deployment can be replicated here in Guyana and an effort is made to match the Centre with capable local skills.