Current Projects

Implementation Phase of the Project Strengthening Adaptive Capacity in the Caucasus

Dec 2018

Background

Regional co-operation for sustainable development in the mountain regions of the Caucasus has a long and complex history, dating back to elaboration of the Mountain Convention in 2000. While inter-governmental processes were suspended in 2009, key actors reunited in 2012 to continue regional collaboration. In 2012-2013, with financial and technical support from UN Environment (UNEP) and the University of Geneva (UniGE), a process to work towards the establishment of a regional scientific network—similar to those in the Carpathians and the Alps—was initiated.

In July 2014, representatives of scientific institutions from the six Caucasus countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, the Russian Federation and Turkey) formally created the Scientific Network for the Caucasus Mountain Region (SNC-mt). The founding members signalled their commitment to promote research collaboration through targeted activities, exchange of knowledge and best practices across borders, and strengthening the connections between scientists, practitioners and decision makers.

SNC-mt Activities

Since 2014, with support from the Caucasus Network for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (Sustainable Caucasus), UN Environment, University of Geneva and others, SNC-mt has implemented a number of activities including: an online knowledge exchange platform available on-line at: www.caucasus-mt.net, which is now the largest knowledge platform for Caucasus research; organisation of the first Caucasus Mountain Forum (November 2016, Tbilisi); the launch of a regional Summer School (September 2016); formulation of a regional research agenda; and establishment of a pilot regional spatial data infrastructure. SNC-mt has successfully mobilized financial and technical assistance from a wide range of partner organizations, including the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) under the SCOPES Programme, and the Austrian Development Co-operation’s APPEAR Programme.

The SCAC Project

Currently SNC-mt, through its Coordination Unit (Sustainable Caucasus), is implementing the four-year project “Strengthening the Climate Adaptation Capacities in the South Caucasus” with financial support from the Swiss Co-operation Office-South Caucasus. The overarching goal of the project is:

Reducing the vulnerability of populations to climate-induced natural hazards and strengthening regional cooperation on climate adaptation and sustainable mountain development.

The project seeks to mobilize the transnational and cross-sectoral expertise of SNC-mt in order to help consolidate and mainstream activities of the Swiss Cooperation Office in South Caucasus and, furthermore, to embed hazard mapping in the larger context of disaster risk reduction (DRR), which is a core feature of sustainable mountain development in the 2030 Agenda. The project has three outputs:

  • Increased learning and teaching capacities in the region’s higher education institutions in the domain of disaster risk reduction;
  • Improved global, regional and national knowledge exchange and multi-stakeholder dialogue on climate adaptation and sustainable mountain development; and
  • Enhanced processes and tools for collection, analysis, and dissemination of Caucasus data, information, and knowledge.

Components and Activities of SCAC:

Teaching and learning improvement in disaster risk management (DRM) and sustainable mountain development (SMD)

This component involves international, regional and national assessments to support the identification of suitable models and practices for improving higher education teaching and leaning practices in the Caucasus. The activities include the development of a DRM distance learning module as well as selective support to create new or reinforce existing DRM courses. A targeted DRM teaching and learning toolbox deployed through a teacher coaching programme seeks to strengthen the capacities of DRM lecturers, laying the foundation for establishing the first regional DRM Master’s Programme. Additionally, the project team will continue the SNC-mt tradition and organise two summer schools with a focus on DRM and natural hazard mapping.

 Establishment of a regional knowledge exchange and dialog platform on sustainable mountain development and disaster risk management

This component will support the establishment of a regional platform for exchanging knowledge and experience and encouraging advocacy focused on the intensification of the science-policy nexus and cooperation among academia and practitioners in DRM and SMD. This will be achieved through the regular publication of policy briefs, stakeholder group meetings, strengthening of applied regional research and continuous enhancements of the SNC-mt online platform as a tool for regional and global exchange of knowledge and cooperation. SCAC also supports two SNC-mt flagship initiatives: The Regional Research Agenda will be turned into a practical guiding document for academic research during the next decade, while the biannual Caucasus Mountain Forum will become a key regional event for sharing cutting-edge knowledge about the Caucasus and planning future steps for evidence-based SMD policymaking.

Enhancement of process and tools for collection, analysis, and dissemination of Caucasus data, information, and knowledge

To support the improvement of spatial data sharing mechanisms and further promote the SNC-mt Caucasus Spatial Data Infrastructure (C-SDI: http://sustainable-caucasus.grid.unep.ch), SCAC will strengthen data geoprocessing capacities; gap analyses of spatial data availability and infrastructure and institutional arrangements; capacity building of key local actors related to country involvement in international and regional Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Flagships and Initiatives. The project will also promote and further develop tools for increasing the international visibility of the Caucasus via different international spatial platforms such as the well-established Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) http://www.geoportal.org): for the Caucasus and increase the availability of harmonised data and information related to mountain development and DRM, both for regional and international stakeholders.

The process of collection, analysis, and dissemination of knowledge and data about the Caucasus will be further refined through the elaboration of an updated and extended second edition of the Caucasus Environmental Outlook (CEO), the first edition of which was published back in 2002. Hard copies and up-to-date online versions of the CEO will also contribute to the visibility of the Caucasus among stakeholders at the global level and will become a key reference to assess the status of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the mountain regions of the Caucasus.

SCAC Partners:

Among partners of the SCAC are leading universities and scientific institutes of the Caucasus ecoregion, the University of Geneva, United Nations Environmental Programme (UN Environment), GRID-Geneva and GRID-Arendal and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).