BGCRF Growing Research Capability award: Preserving, restoring and managing Colombian Biodiversity through Responsible Innovation (GROW-Colombia)
CSERGE, in collaboration with the Earlham Institute and partners, was recently awarded £6.5mil by Research Councils UK through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) (http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/funding/gcrf/growingcapability/) a capacity building grant focused on preserving and managing biodiversity in Colombia.
Colombia's biodiversity is not only important for the country's natural heritage and the preservation of unique species in the world, it is also essential for the improvement of human welfare, social equality and economic development. The Four year multidisciplinary programme’s key objective is to enhance Colombian research capability in the biological sciences, computational biology, and socio-economics, in order to raise the general awareness of the importance of biodiversity. CSERGE will lead the socio economic programme focusing on the sustainability of agricultural production together with biodiversity protection. Our goals are to build research capacity, partnerships and knowledge, with the longer-term aim of stimulating economic growth and social cohesion through biodiversity conservation.
The funded programme sits alongside the BRIDGE Colombia network (www.bridgecolombia.org) which is a multidisciplinary network of research organisations in the UK and Colombia founded in March 2017, to develop robust coordinated activities under a shared vision centered on biodiversity as a means to achieve sustainability and peace. The network actively facilitates collaborative and fully integrated research programmes; promotes research excellence and the use of innovation in technologies and approaches to develop resilience in research capabilities; stimulates partnerships; and promotes exchange of knowledge.
In June this year GROW-Colombia held an international academic workshop in Bogota to explore cyberinfrastructure needs and opportunities to enable data-driven scientific discovery in Colombia. The four-day workshop was attended by nearly 50 researchers and produced a White Paper to inform future government policy. In addition, the workshop saw the formation of the Consorcio Colombiano de Cyberinfrastructure Para la Biodiversidad.
The GROW-Colombia project was also profiled at the FIMA international environment trade fair in Bogota in mid-June where the UK was honoured as the official guest country. Later this year GROW partners will take part in a workshop to tackle illegal wildlife trade using metagenomics. In October 2018 GROW-Colombia will hold its annual meeting in Cali.
Long Term Impact
The GROW-Colombia project will advance Colombia’s research skills, partnerships, and technological self-sufficiency. It will achieve the following:
- 12 specialised training programmes across the three thematic areas
- 5 annual meetings bringing together BRIDGE members, government and NGOs as well as industry
- Early career researcher retreats
- Research exchange program for early career scientists
The outcomes of GROW-Colombia will include:
- Development of human capital
- Adoption of new technologies and analytical capabilities
- Generation of data, databases and novel approaches to biodiversity research
- Promotion of education and community and social engagement
- Evidence-based plans and policy recommendations
- Analysis of ecosystem services and ecotourism opportunities.
Contact Silvia Ferrini, Kerry Turner and Corrado Di Maria.