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The Contributions of Regional Knowledge Networks Researching Environmental Changes in Latin America and Africa: a Synthesis of what they can do and why they can be policy relevant

Myanna Lahsen, Instituto de Pesquisas Espaciais
Mercedes M. C. Bustamante, Universidade de Brasília
Robert Swap, University of Virginia
Elizabeth McNie, Department of Political Science, Purdue University
Jean P. H. B. Ometto, Instituto de Pesquisas Espaciais
Tatiana Schor, Universidade Federal do Amazonas
Holm Tiessen, Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research
Sandy Andelman, Conservation International
Harold Annegarn, Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, South Africa

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05614-180314

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Abstract

We provide a synthesis of what regional scientific research networks in less developed regions of the world can do and why they might be relevant for societal decisions and practice. We do so through a focus on three regional science network initiatives that aim to enhance understanding of the multiscalar dynamics of global environmental change (GEC) regionally and globally, namely the Southern Africa Regional Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000), the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change (IAI). With a view to aiding future efforts at regional research network formation, we assess whether and how these three networks enhanced regional science, and the extent to which they sought and managed to bridge the science-policy gap that challenges GEC science as a whole. Identifying key decisions and attributes bearing on their successes, the analysis attends specifically to how the three networks sought to build capacity, how differences and similarities between them affected their level of autonomy from governments, and how this and other factors influenced their functioning and achievements.

Key words

Africa; capacity building; global change; Latin America; scientific research networks
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087