Mission and Goals of the Asia Center
The Academy of Natural Sciences has established an Asia Center dedicated to expanding the Academy’s environmental research and education in this rapidly developing continent. The Asia Center is being built on the highly successful work the Academy has been conducting in Mongolia since 1994. The Center’s mission is to:
Foster sustainable use of resources and environmental protection and remediation in Asia through advancement and application of the natural sciences.
The Asia Center has four program goals that are being pursued in cooperation with Asian host nations and other partners. Its work will provide for partnerships and participation with local and indigenous stakeholders, and will emphasize capacity-building measures for sustainable land and water use practices. The four goals are:
- Improving understanding of the diversity, ecology and evolution of life;
- Developing and applying science to protect the environment, including the training of young scientists in Asian countries;
- Advancing public interest and engagement in protection of natural environments;
- Preserving the heritage of natural science in specimens, images and words.
Research Priorities and Immediate Goals of the Asia Center
The Academy is a leading institution in studies of biological diversity, water quality, and ecosystem health, and in defining the impacts of climate change on Asia’s landscape.
Protection of Ecosystems, Biological Diversity and Water Quality
The pressures to exploit Asia’s substantial natural resources are great, while the number of trained scientists to monitor the effects of development on the environment (and guide development in minimally impacting ways) in most of the countries is small. Academy scientists have initiated programs to help train students and regulators on a variety of environmental problem solving methods through workshops and hands-on field research.
The landscape of Asia is undergoing rapid change as demand for food and economic development intensifies. At the same time, northern Asia has undergone substantial warming during the past 50 years. Local peoples, particularly rural indigenous populations who depend on the land and water for their livelihoods, must adapt to seasonal and landscape changes. Academy scientists are currently helping the people of Mongolia with technical exchanges drawing from their knowledge and the Academy’s vast ecological databases. The Academy is assisting in the dissemination of information on how to adapt to climate change.
It is clear that Asia faces tremendous needs for scientific and environmental expertise in the coming decades, and it is equally clear that the Academy has significant capability to train individuals to fill many of those needs. We are requesting support from multiple sources to better understand the varied environmental issues and to train Asian scientists to identify and solve local and regional problems. Problems in Asia affect all of us. The Asia Center can play a key role in addressing these critical issues, and in so doing, help to improve and protect the many unique natural resources located throughout the Asian continent.