The Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research

by Ruben Lara Lara

The Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) is a multinational initiative to establish a regional network of Research Centers dedicated to the monitoring and understanding of global change related phenomena and the impacts of such phenomena on the region's natural systems and human societies. The IAI was conceptualized in response to the growing perception within the scientific community in recent years of global change as a regional issue with global implications. Recognizing the enormous scope of global change issues, eleven countries of the American region signed the Agreement Establishing the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research on May 13, 1992 in Montevideo, Uruguay; these Founding Parties have since been joined by five additional countries.

The Agreement Establishing the IAI has been ratified by four countries and will enter into force following the ratification of six signatories. Once fully operational, the IAI will be governed by the coordinated efforts of a Conference of the Parties, an Executive Council and an Institute Director. The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) will guide the development and implementation of the Institute's scientific agenda.

The primary objectives of the IAI are to conduct interdisciplinary research in global change related fields and to increase the overall scientific capacity of the region. These objectives will be accomplished through the creation of a network of Research Centers dedicated to the study of global change issues which have been identified as priority based on their relevance to the region and potential for contribution to global studies. Results generated from IAI research activities, including data, will be available within the region for analysis and integration in the policy-making processes. Furthermore, the IAI is firmly committed to augmenting existing opportunities for training and education within the scientific fields relevant to global change studies. It is anticipated that IAI Training and Education Programs will foster the enhancement and development of working relationships among the individuals, institutions and governments involved in IAI activities while providing valuable opportunities for technical and information exchanges.

The initial scientific research agenda of the IAI as specified in the Agreement Establishing the IAI, is the result of a multinational and interdisciplinary planning process and is intended to reflect those aspects of global change which have significant physical and socioeconomic impacts on the American Region. As global change is a dynamic issue, it is expected that the agenda will continue to evolve under the stewardship of the IAI's Scientific Advisory Committee.

Seven research topics have been identified as initial priorities of the IAI:

During this implementation period, the institutional aspects and the scientific agenda of the IAI are being developed by a multinational Implementation Committee (IAI/IC). The IAI/IC has adhered to the principles embedded in the Agreement throughout the Institute's development process, which include: scientific excellence; interdisciplinary collaboration; open exchange of data and information; and commitment to training and education.

The IC Executive Scientist is currently coordinating scientific and program development workshops for each of the seven research foci to be convened by scientific experts throughout the region. Individuals interested in obtaining further information about the IAI and its development activities should contact Dr. Ruben Lara Lara, IC Executive Scientist, by telephone at (301) 589-5747 or by FAX at (301) 589-5711.

homepage contents previous article next article