DBAR Opens the Center of Excellence in Lusaka

The inaugural meeting of DBAR International Center of Excellence at Lusaka (ICoE-Lusaka) held on June 25, 2018 at Lusaka, capital of Zambia. The establishment of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka is one of the key DBAR objectives.  
 
Luke E. Mumba, the President of Zambia University, Enala Tembo - Mwase, the Vice-President of Zambia University, Mr. Shukri Ahmed, the Director of the Economic and Social Development of UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Dr. Lewis Hove of FAO office in southern Africa, Dr. George Okech of FAO office in Zambia, Ms. Jane M. Chinkusu, the Director of Science and Technology Division of Higher Education Ministry in Zambia, Mr. Brian Mutasha of Zambian Ministry of Forestry, Mr. Chilombo M. Hamabwe of Lusaka City Government, Dr. Elijah Phiri, the Executive Director of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka, Mr. CHEN Shijie, the Counselor of the Political Office of the Chinese Embassy in Zambia were among the distinguished guest who attended the meeting. Representing DBAR, CAS Academician and Chair of DBARGUO Huadong led a four-member DBAR delegation at the ceremony.
 
DBAR is in process of establishing 8 International Centers of Excellence in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. DBAR ICoE-Lusaka, hosted by Zambia University, is the third ICoE launched by DBAR in the past year. The ICoE-Lusaka aims to promote scientific cooperation between DBAR and the African region on Big Earth Data, in addition to supporting the Sustainable Development in Southern Africa. DBAR ICoE-Lusaka established a monitoring system for agriculture and food security in southern African countries in support of DBAR Agriculture and Food Security Working Group (DBAR-AGRI) and towards the development of CropWatch system, for agricultural monitoring to aid policy making and support services for indicators related to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as agriculture, food security and other relevant indicators.
 
During his address, at the inaugural meeting, Prof. GUO Huadong pointed out that the essence of the Belt and Road Initiative is openness and sharing towards mutual benefits, development and prosperity. It aims to strengthen ties through scientific, technological and cross-cultural exchanges, and at the same time support developments in science, technology and economic sectors along the Belt and Road. He expressed that with complex geographical environment and diverse ecosystems, southern Africa faces many challenges such as food security, climate change, and natural disasters, among other, and therefore it is in urgent need of the accurate and timely scientific information support. He said that as an open international scientific plan, DBAR is serving SDGs in the Belt and Road region using Big Earth Data. He believed that the establishment of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka will effectively enhance the participation of scientists and stakeholders from southern African countries in DBAR, who will contribute in research, enhancing the scientific and technological capacity of southern African countries in agriculture, food security, disaster response and other fields. He also informed that DBAR-AGRI directly targets the zero-hunger target of SDGs and will strongly support the work of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka, and hoped that strengthening agricultural information and monitoring systems in southern African countries will help in improving food security, land use monitoring and integrated management of natural resources.
 
Professor Luke e. Mumba, the President of the Zambia University, in his address, welcomed the DBAR delegation and appreciated DBAR for choosing Zambia University as their partner to establish DBAR ICoE-Lusaka. He expressed hope that DBAR ICoE-Lusaka will have a significant impact on the Belt and Road, South-South cooperation, especially in field of agricultural and food security monitoring, climate change research, disaster assessment and sustainable economic and social development in southern Africa. He stated that the center will be keen to pursue joint regional studies, promoting data sharing, and student exchange and training, through fostering joint research projects.
 
On behalf of FAO, Mr. Shukri Ahmed, in his address, congratulated the University of Zambia and DBAR on the establishment of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka and pointed out that the several key areas of DBAR plan are closely related to the strategic plan goal of FAO such as promoting accurate food and agricultural information, the development of food system and value chain, eliminating hunger and poverty, strengthening resistance ability of agricultural livelihoods against shocks and crises. He expressed that the DBAR-AGRI is conducting extensive cooperation and exchanges on food security monitoring and early warning technologies. He hoped that establishment of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka will contribute to the achievement of the goals of the Marabo declaration on African Agenda 2063, which is a remarkable achievement and an example of close scientific and technological cooperation between governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic research institutions. He expressed FAO commitment to work with all parties to promote the development of the DBAR ICoE-Lusak and the scientific practice of results-based knowledge.
 
Following the addresses, Prof. CHEN fang, Deputy Secretary General of DBAR and Co-Chair of the DBAR Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group, introduced the overall framework and progress of DBAR, the positioning of DBAR ICoE and the progress of cooperation in disaster risk assessment of DBAR. Prof. WU Bingfang, Co-Chair of the DBAR-AGRI, introduced the objectives, contents and progress of the working group and the joint practical programme of the working group and DBAR ICoE. Dr. ZHU Weiwei of the DBAR-AGRI, reported in detail on the development of a remote sensing monitoring system for agricultural conditions in Zambia. Prof. Elijah Phiri, Executive Director of DBAR ICoE-Lusaka, introduced the overall preparations of the center, including the center's research objectives, the relationship with sustainable development in southern Africa, the center-capacity building, annual implementation plans and outputs etc.
 
Finally, the meeting had a special discussion on the development and regional services of DBAR ICoE – Lusaka. The participants agreed that as next step, the center will construct the service network for big Earth data in southern Africa through interdisciplinary data sharing, which will provide scientific and technological support for research into key issues of sustainable development goals such as food security and climate change in Africa.
\
 ICoE-Lusak Award Ceremony