Regional Centers and the Future Earth MENA Regional Center at the Cyprus Institute featured prominently at this year’s annual meetings of the Governing Council as well as the Science- and Engagement Committees in Montreal, Canada. The role and functions of Regional Centers and their interactions with the global Secretariat and the five Global Hubs were important points on the agenda of all three bodies. Presentations at meetings of all three bodies provided insight into the range of activities and initiatives carried out by each of the Regional Centers.
Future Earth’s goal of being an inclusive global research and engagement platform that addresses all scales from the national over the regional to the global is reflected in its objective to enable regional and national entities to have input into equitable and innovative global priority setting and activities. Consequently, Regional Committees, Regional Centers and National Committees constitute key elements in Future Earth’s governance structure.
The discussions in Montreal revealed that each of the four Regional Centers takes care of an impressive portfolio of activities in and for the respective region. The interactions and cooperation between Global Hubs and Regional Centers has been dramatically improved over the last one-and-a-half years and has resulted in a number of joint activities.
This notwithstanding, there are a few issues that need further clarification. This includes:
- the value proposition (what is unique about Future Earth and why should anybody be engaged in it?);
- how can resources for the operation of Regional Centers and specific activities (e.g., seed funding) be raised in a joint effort between Global Hubs and Regional Centers;
- strategies to enable synthesis and foresight on regional-based research and
- what mechanisms can be invoked to get regional/ national stakeholders on board in spite of significant political/cultural/societal/language differences.
While the discussions at the Governing Council shed some light on these issues, more and open discussions in the spirit of the already positive interactions between Global Hubs and Regional Centers are needed to advance on the answers to the questions raised.
Future Earth MENA Regional Center at the Cyprus Institute: http://fe-mena.cyi.ac.cy/index.php