The four Hub partners facilitating leadership and governance of SERVIR-Amazonia are SIG, ACCA, Imaflora, and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, with the latter assuming the lead implementation of the Program since its launch early 2019. At the beginning, all four organizations assessed their own institutional capacities to address sustainable landscapes issues in the areas of governance, data and information management, human and financial resources allocation, and knowledge management. During this assessment, they also set their progress and final goals in those areas over the 5-year duration of the Program.
During a stock-taking exercise, which is part of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Plan of SERVIR-Amazonia, we discussed how much progress each organization has been able to make towards the objectives during the first year.
“While a partner like SIG, based in the United States, was able to expand its activities into Amazon countries, ACCA and Imaflora have increased their expertise in thematic service areas. The lead implementer Alliance Bioversity-CIAT took advantage of the opportunity to expand partnerships and create an institutional geospatial Hub.”
Findings: Increased geographical presence, new partnerships, more human capacities and GIT infrastructure
While a partner like SIG, based in the United States, was able to expand its activities into Amazon countries, ACCA and Imaflora have increased their expertise in thematic service areas. The lead implementer Alliance Bioversity-CIAT took advantage of the opportunity to expand partnerships and create an institutional geospatial Hub. Each of the institutions reported the main capacities broadened:
Spatial Informatics Group (SIG) leads the geospatial data and science areas of SERVIR-Amazonia. The US based environmental think-tank had two institutional-level objectives to: 1) engage and develop relationships with regional stakeholders, and 2) strengthen technical capacity in addressing regional specific environmental challenges. 18 months into the project, they have made progress through various service activities in the Amazon, like mining detection and mangrove monitoring. Their regional presence has increased through additional staff based in the region.
Conservación Amazónica (ACCA), a Peruvian non-profit organization and an innovative leader in Amazonian conservation, research, and biodiversity management initiatives since 1999, has advanced its human capacities in the area of geospatial data and analysis, especially in monitoring land change and deforestation using geospatial information. The organization has also increased its competencies in the thematic areas of drought and fire forecasting, as well as water resource management and hydroclimatic disasters. “Our GIS Unit has been increasingly accessing SERVIR-Amazonia data sets and information, and participated in a series of training workshops. ACCA is involved in service co-development, with two new tools –the Fire Tracker, as a complement of our MAAP initiative, and RAMI (Radar Mining Monitoring) to support government agencies in their combat of illegal mining”, says Sidney Novoa, Director at ACCA for GIS & Technology Applied for Conservation. ACCA is also continuously sharing its learnings with its stakeholders, for example promoting the implementation of GIS monitoring units in different Peruvian government institutions.
The Institute for Forest and Agriculture Management and Certification (IMAFLORA) is a non-profit, non- governmental Brazilian organization created in 1995 to promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and to generate social benefits in the forestry and agricultural sectors. Imaflora has made progress in organizing and analyzing data about land use related to ecosystem management in Brazil. Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto, Manager in charge of coordinating Imaflora’s activities with SERVIR-Amazonia, states that GIS products and services contributing to tackle sustainable landscapes issues have become more important for the organization and this has made a difference for private decision-making and public discussions about very relevant public regulations. The interaction with SERVIR partners has contributed to increase the technical capacity in the use of new tools for image processing and interpretation about deforestation and forest degradation.
The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT is an international research for development organization established in 1967. Working at the interface of agriculture and environment, the Alliance has a broad mandate spanning the food system. The Alliance sees multiple benefits and opportunities as a lead organization of SERVIR-Amazonia: From the establishment of new partnerships in the region, to an increased human capacity in geospatial information technologies (GIT), to noticeable advances in the establishment of data and analytic infrastructure. “A GeoNetwork node to host data with and for regional partners has been established, along with increased Hub capacity around Google Earth Engine. Several services are building on overlapping technologies, and in general data management, data flow, and analytics are improving”, says Steven Prager, a Principal Scientist of the Alliance and member of SERVIR-Amazonia management. Prager also considers that the Monitoring dashboard created by the Program is relevant to the entire institution, which is in the process of developing a new strategic results framework. “With this platform we can readily connect research activities to the institutional priorities”, he says.
All four Hub partners agree in expressing their satisfaction with how SERVIR-Amazonia contributes to strengthen their institutional capacities to address sustainable landscape issues. Further progress is expected in the areas of human resources, technical capacities in the four service areas, and GIT infrastructure.
Measurement of institutional capacity to address sustainable landscapes issues
The survey tool used was adapted from the Global Climate Change Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool, which is based on USAID’s Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA) tools, emphasizing a joint external-internal assessment of climate change integration into the structure and fabric of the organizations that are important for moving a country’s or sector’s climate change agenda forward.
SERVIR-Amazonia adapted this tool to assess institutional capacity to address sustainable landscapes issues through geospatial information and services (hereby referred to SLIGIS). Institutions with improved (i.e. better, additional or greater) capacity to assess or address sustainable landscapes issues are those that have new or increased ability to use approaches, processes, strategies, or methodologies in the program thematic areas: (i) Drought and fire, (ii) Water resources and extreme events, (iii) Ecosystem management, and (iv) Weather and climate.
Hub partners are asked to do an annual self assessment using an online format, and results are shared and discussed among them during management meetings.
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