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Research partnership to improve tropical living

Two Queensland universities are stepping up to take on global challenges in tropical health, environmental management and tropical living.

Griffith University and James Cook University have signed a research agreement to deliver solutions for people living in the tropics in the face of a changing climate.  

The pair will do joint research to position themselves as leaders in tropical research and consolidate their research capabilities in tropical science, knowledge and innovation.

Griffith Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Lesley Johnson said undertaking research into the tropics was a national priority and this partnership was an important milestone.

“The joint research is aimed at improving living conditions for tropical and subtropical communities, which governments have ranked highly in their research priorities,” Professor Johnson said.

“This partnership is an important step to expand cooperation and the exchange of ideas between the two leading tertiary institutions.”

The memorandum of understanding between the two universities identified the following priority research areas:

  • tropical health and medicine
  • climate change adaptation in the tropics
  • water resources in the tropics
  • biodiversity in the tropics
  • Indigenous studies and
  • urban planning for the tropics and subtropics.

Griffith and JCU plan to undertake joint research and consultancy and further cross-institutional teaching and supervision for postgraduate research students.

The two institutions will also establish a collaborative research funding program, which will begin next year.

In 2009, applications for these grants will be invited in the fields of tropical health and medicine, climate change adaptation, water resources, biodiversity, and Indigenous studies.

Griffith forges new links with China’s top science research institution

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will be in Brisbane this week to work with Griffith University’s climate change adaptation experts in a bid to collaboratively find solutions to our most pressing environmental challenges.

Griffith is hosting an important research forum Climate Change Adaptation - Uniting Ecosystem Resilience and Societal Responses to facilitate discussion between 20 senior CAS representatives and Griffith researchers on Friday 28 November.

The forum will address topics such as healthy river systems and water, biodiversity, ecosystem function and climate change adaptation issues confronting our governments, industries and communities.

CAS is China's leading academic institution and the most comprehensive research and development centre in natural sciences and high-tech innovation, with more than 39,000 scientific staff.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Lesley Johnson said this was a major partnership for the University and an important link for Australia’s higher education.

“We are delighted to establish links with CAS, one of China’s leading research hubs, and provide opportunities for students and academics to undertake joint studies,” Professor Johnson said.

“The climate change adaptation forum is an important step in enabling our researchers to workshop potential research projects.

“We have also recently established a joint doctoral program to enable academic exchange with Graduate University of CAS (GUCAS), China’s largest research school.”

This program will allow Chinese students to undertake a five-year research degree conducted at Griffith and GUCAS to produce two PhD theses – one in Chinese and one in English.

Students who complete the program will receive PhDs awarded by Griffith and GUCAS.

“We will also offer scholarships to outstanding CAS PhD scholars who are undertaking studies in environmental science and biotechnology.”

Griffith’s history has had a strong focus on Asian and environmental studies since establishing Australia’s first university-based schools in these disciplines more than 30 years ago.

The University is the headquarters for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, providing national leadership in climate change adaptation research.

Palutikof to lead national climate change adaptation research

Appointment of the new National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) Director will greatly enhance climate change and environmental research capability in Australia.

The facility, hosted at Queensland’s Griffith University, will harness nationwide multi-disciplinary expertise in advancing climate change adaptation knowledge.

The new Director, Professor Jean Palutikof, managed the five-year preparation of the report Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability while working for the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group in the UK.

The report analysed current, observed and projected future impacts of climate change by sector and region, and looked at adaptation and mitigation response strategies as well as their interrelationships with sustainable development.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Lesley Johnson said she was delighted to have Professor Palutikof from the UK leading NCCARF. 

"Her outstanding international reputation in climate change research and policy credentials make her an ideal recruit to lead our National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility," Professor Johnson said.
Professor Johnson said in addition to having a global view of current climate change adaptation research, Professor Palutikof had extensive experience in executive roles.

She has served as Climate Research Unit Director and Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia before undertaking her important work for the IPCC.

Professor Johnson said Griffith held a long-standing national and international reputation in environmental sciences research with one of the largest group of environmental professionals of any university in Australia.

“Since establishing Australia's first university School of Environmental Studies 30 years ago, Griffith's national leadership in climate change adaptation research underpins its success in leading the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility,” she said.

The NCCARF partners include the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence, the Queensland Department of Emergency Services and eight universities across Australia: James Cook University, Macquarie University, Murdoch University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Newcastle, University of Southern Queensland and University of the Sunshine Coast.

Griffith to lead national climate change network

Griffith University welcomed Climate Change Minister Penny Wong's announcement that it will host the Water Resources and Freshwater Biodiversity network of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

Griffith University Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor said this would enable the network to be co-located with NCCARF's national headquarters at Griffith as well as Griffith's three flagship water research centres.

These include the Australian Rivers Institute; the national Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research program's Queensland hub and the Queensland Government's Smart Water Research Facility.

"These centres already have research underway into the impact of climate change, land use and environmental degradation on Australia's precious water resources," he said.

"Network members will have access to this critical mass in water expertise Griffith has built since establishing Australia's first school of environmental studies in the 1970s," he said.

Australian Rivers Institute Director and newly-appointed National Water Commissioner Professor Stuart Bunn will lead the network at Griffith.

Professor Bunn said activities would be coordinated around four key ‘adaptation’ themes: Water allocation, markets and trading; water resources; biodiversity and ecosystem health; and climate scenarios.

"The goal is to develop collaborative, cross-disciplinary research at the national level and to synthesise this knowledge to give Australian water and biodiversity managers the best chance of coping with a difficult climate future," he said.

"It brings together Australia’s top water scientists supported by more than 20 partner research institutions from across the country with a node in each state and territory."

All seven networks will be administered by the National Climate Change Adaptation Facility also based at Griffith University, Queensland.

The Facility was established under the Federal Department of Climate Change and charged with providing national leadership in the development and implementation of adaptation plans in key priority sectors such as water resources, primary industries, built environment, human health and biodiversity conservation.


Landmark enviro partnership launched at Griffith

THE Government of Indonesia today opened a research centre at Griffith University dedicated to battling the effects of climate change and preventing environmental degradation in the Indonesian region.

Indonesian Minister for Environment His Excellency Mr Rachmat Witoelar opened the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Development for Indonesia centre at Griffith University's Nathan Campus.

A world-first for Indonesia, the centre will provide a range of initiatives to assist the nation develop sustainably and mitigate the impact of climate change on the region.

Programs include:

  • Education in environmental science; resource management; pollution and environmental degradation and urban planning education for Environment Ministry staff at national and regional level.
  • A range of PhD projects including an International Environmental Higher Education program to enable graduates to provide sustainable development education in Indonesia.
  • Specific research programs responding to regional climate change threats such as coastal erosion, wildfire, hurricane-driven flooding, sea level rise and drought, environmental degradation.
  • Setting up emergency technical consultancies on specific issues.

The Centre's reach extends right into the heartland of Indonesia, with Griffith providing intensive training for Indonesian Government staff at a central, district and provincial level, both on campus, and on the ground in Indonesia.

Griffith University Vice Chancellor Ian O'Connor said Australia – and in particular Griffith University – had established an outstanding reputation as a regional hub for environmental expertise.

"This centre is the culmination of a long and successful education and research association with the Indonesian Government dating back to the early 1980s," he said.

Director of the Griffith University Centre for Environment and Population Health Professor Cordia Chu said the centre symbolised the fact that environmental issues have no national borders.

"It demonstrates that our closest neighbours are as committed to issues of sustainable development, environmental protection and climate change mitigation as we are," she said.

"Working in partnership with Indonesia creates unprecedented opportunities for Australian students and researchers in engineering, science and urban planning to shape our region's future, by helping to build essential knowledge and capacity in Indonesia."

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