After 10 months of research and fieldwork, four students from Nepal, Bhutan, and India, whose projects had been selected for the prestigious global environmental fellowship programme known as My Community, Our Earth (MyCOE), showcased their work at the MyCOE SERVIR Capstone event in the United States. The Himalayan fellows were joined by peers from 10 different countries in Africa and Southeast Asia to present their research to scientists from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) in a televised event held on 3 April 2014 at NASA’s headquarters.
Representing the Himalayan region were Lhakpa from Bhutan, Joyeeta Poddar from India, and Pramila Paudyal and Prasamsa Thapa from Nepal. The research work of the Himalayan fellows focused on climate change in mountain areas and used Earth observation data and geospatial technology to assess climate change and its impacts on agriculture and glacial lakes, among other things.
The MyCOE SERVIR Capstone event is part of the MYCOE SERVIR partnership, which supports local, long-term capacity building in the use of geography and geographic technologies for sustainable development initiatives and facilitates ways in which existing geographic data and tools may be applied to address critical regional needs in developing regions of the world. The event seeks to strengthen the linkages among MYCOE, the SERVIR system, and user communities. SERVIR is a joint initiative of USAID and NASA that works with regional information providers around the world to put information into the hands of decision-makers to improve development outcomes. SERVIR started its Himalayan hub at ICIMOD in 2010 to improve environmental decision-making in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region through the dissemination and analysis of Earth observation.
Dan Irwin, SERVIR’s Global Project Director, said that the “MYCOE Capstone event was remarkable in that it gave the fellows the opportunity to share their research with interested people at NASA and USAID, and the opportunity to share with other fellows from different regions across our planet”. He added: “I am excited that MYCOE will serve as a catalyst for the fellows to launch their careers and a successful future.”
While in the United States, fellows also participated in the Association of American Geographers’ (AAG) Annual Meeting where they presented their research to a gathering of scientists from around the world. Lhakpa describes being a MYCOE SERVIR fellow as the most fulfilling achievement of his life. He said that the programme has improved his research skills and ability to analyse data and enabled him to propose ways of combating the impacts of climate change in his own country.