Third Meeting of COMSATS' International Thematic Research Group on 'Climate Change and Environmental Protection' held in Islamabad
The third meeting of COMSATS’ International Thematic Research Group (ITRG) on ‘Climate Change and Environmental Protection’ was held on January 22, 2014, at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Islamabad, on the sidelines of the International Conference on ‘Asian Monsoon and Climate Change’ (20-21 January, 2014, Islamabad, Pakistan). The ITRG meeting was held to review the progress of the joint research project being undertaken by its members entitled ‘Characteristics and Mechanism of the Extreme Climate Events under the Climate Change Background’. The Group comprises of scientists and researchers from meteorological departments, scientific and research organizations, and higher education institutions of various developing countries. The meeting was attended by group members belonging to Bangladesh, China, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. Imtinan Elahi Qureshi, in his opening remarks, expressed satisfaction on the progress of the group activity since its launching in November 2010, in Beijing, China. He gave the background of COMSATS’ eight ITRGs conceived during the 10th Coordinating Council Meeting in Egypt (2007) and approved during its 13th meeting held in Italy (2010). Dr. Qureshi informed that these groups were constituted to undertake collaborative research for finding solutions to common problems of the developing countries. Explaining the concept and modus operandi of the groups, Dr. Qureshi pointed out that while all Members of the Group work on a specific thematic research project, they remain stationed in their respective institutions in different countries and mainly interact with the group leader through internet-based communication channels. He highlighted the effectiveness of such groups in facilitating the sharing of technical know-how and pooling of the necessary laboratory resources available with the Group members. Showing satisfaction towards the performance of Climate Change group, he thanked the Group Leader, the Director of International Center for Climate and Environment Sciences (ICCES), China, Prof. Zhaohui Lin, for his commitment to coordinate the research work of group members.
In his welcome address, Prof. Lin expressed gratitude to the Executive Director COMSATS for providing full support to his Group and recalled its history of establishment, objectives, and the technical contributions made by the members so far. He noted that climate change has adversely affected almost all countries of the South in the form of flash floods, droughts, rising sea levels and receding glaciers. Prof. Lin hoped for expanding international cooperation through his group on Climate Change under the umbrella of COMSATS, and with cooperation from its partner organizations, such as TWAS.
The group members attending the meeting included: Dr. Gorakanage Arosha Chandima Gomes, Associate Professor (Electrical Engineering), Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia; Dr. Shahina Tariq, Chairperson, Department of Meteorology, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Islamabad, Pakistan; Dr. Kalim Ullah, Head, Department of Meteorology, CIIT, Islamabad, Pakistan; Mr. Warnage Ransisi Keerthi Fonseka, Principal Research Engineer, Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), Sri Lanka; Dr. Dambaru Ballab Kattel, Foreign Professor, Department of Meteorology, CIIT, Islamabad, Pakistan (representing Dr. Rijan Bhakta Kayastha, Assistant Professor, Himalayan Cryosphere, Climate and Disaster Research Centre (HiCCDRC), Kathmandu University, Nepal); Dr. M. Molanejad, Acting President for International Cooperation, Iranian Research Organization for Science & Technology (IROST), Iran; Dr. Abbas Ranjbar, Atmospheric Science and Meteorological Research Center, Iran; Mr. Muhammad Munir Sheikh, Head of Climatology Section, Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Pakistan; Mr. Shahbaz Mehmood, Scientific Officer GCISC, Pakistan; Mr. Muhammad Amjad, Scientific Officer, GCISC, Pakistan; Mr. Muhammad Aleem-ul-Hassan Ramay, Senior Meteorologist, National Weather Forecasting Centre, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), Pakistan; Prof. Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed Raja, Foreign Professor, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Abbottabad, Pakistan; and Prof. Dr. G. M. Tarekul Islam, Institute of Water and Flood Management (IWFM) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Bangladesh. Mr. Tajammul Hussain, Advisor (Programmes) and Mr. Farhan Ansari, Sr. Assistant Director (Programmes) represented COMSATS Headquarters during the meeting as programme coordinators.
The participants of the meeting presented their progress reports and shared their country-specific meteorological data. Communicating their strengths to contribute to the joint research project of the Group, they also pointed out areas in which trainings are required, to which ICCES-China agreed to fulfill through organizing short-term trainings and international capacity building events for the eligible Group members. Stressing the importance of availability of meteorological data for authentic research findings, it was agreed that after an analysis of the data available with their institutions, the participants may discretionally share it with other group members. It was noted by Dr. Tarekul Islam of Bangladesh and Dr. W.R.K. Fonseka of Sri Lanka that Climate Change has started getting attention in their countries only recently and the linkages formed during the ITRG meeting would facilitate relevant institution building in their countries. Dr. Chandima Gomes of Malaysia informed that his parent institution in Malaysia plans to establish an atmospheric engineering institute, for which his affiliation with the group is a good learning experience. The Nepalese, Pakistani, and Iranian participants also noted the extreme weather events in their countries in the recent years and their plans for contributing to the group activity. In light of discussions held during the meeting, a consensus emerged among the participants about fostering greater international cooperation among the countries of the South for meeting common global challenges pertaining to Climate Change.
The meeting also finalized an Action Plan, outlining the responsibilities of the Group Leader and Members for the years 2014-2015. The plan entails gathering the relevant meteorological data of collaborating countries with daily/monthly temporal resolution; preliminary analysis of the data; execution of different segments of the joint research project; and submission of periodic progress reports to the Group Leader. The ITRG members also agreed to publish joint research papers in peer reviewed journals based on their collaborative research findings through participation in the group activity.
The meeting concluded on a high note of commitment to cooperation amongst the Group members. Agreeing to the timeline and responsibilities chalked out in the Action Plan, the participants pledged to dedicatedly contribute to the joint research project of the Group.