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Facing climate change, developing world benefits from UN online scientific scheme

Facing climate change, developing world benefits from UN online scientific scheme

As part of a project to promote scientific knowledge in the developing world in the face of climate change, the United National environmental agency this month extended its online programme to Yemen, offering it a chance to gain greater access to leading scientific journals.

Yemen is now one of 108 developing countries which have free access to the latest in scientific literature through the Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) project of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

UNEP, Yemen’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Ministry of Water and Environment worked together with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) to train 30 Yemeni researchers, scientists, planers, and lecturers about the use of OARE to support the country as it faces increasing environmental challenges due to climate change, food crisis and water scarcity.

Yemen’s economy depends largely on the oil and fishing industries. Even though recent reports show a 25 per cent increase in fish product exports and a 30 per cent increase in fish volume, according to a recent World Bank report, the country is facing an alarming decline in fish stock and production in some areas.

“We need to do much more to get to a climate-smart world,” Katherine Sierra, Vice-President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, said. “On the energy front, we must tackle difficult issues like technology transfer, investment, and climate finance. But when it comes to adaptation and building climate resilience, the challenge is more complex and the role of knowledge will be key.”

So far, more than 1,600 institutions are registered with OARE to use the wide collection of scientific research and the increasing number of scientific databases and portals. OARE's expanding role in developing countries comes at a time when the world is focusing on knowledge and technology transfer to promote more sustainable development. Access to the latest findings in environmental science will help those countries adapt to an increasingly changing environment.

In November, a similar workshop was organized in Amman, Jordan, where 35 Jordanian and Iraqi participants were trained. Other trainings are scheduled for Tunisia, Morocco and Afghanistan in early 2010.

The crucial transfer of scientific information to the developing world began two years ago when UNEP negotiated a deal with leading publishers to build one of the largest electronic collections of scientific knowledge in environmental and related areas, in partnership with WHO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Yale and Cornell universities in the United States, international publishers, and private sector groups like Microsoft.

The result is a collection that is available online and contains more than 2,900 scientific and peer-reviewed journals with a value of around $1.5 million a year.