Smithsonian Hosts Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group

First Global Scientific Assessment of Disaster-Risk Reduction and Climate-Change Adaptation
November 15, 2009
News Release

More than 90 world experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change met at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City Nov. 9-12 to plan the first global scientific assessment of disaster-risk reduction and climate-change adaptation.

The special report, “Managing the Risk of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation,” to be completed in 2011, will evaluate the scientific basis for measures for weather and climate hazards such as drought, flooding, severe storms and heat waves.

“The decision by the IPCC, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, to host their working-group meeting here, is testimony to the growing importance of Panama in discussions and actions concerning climate change,” said Eldredge Bermingham, director of STRI.

Melitón Arrocha, Panama’s vice minister for foreign affairs, expressed appreciation on the part of the government of Panama to the Smithsonian for inviting the group to meet in Panama. He stressed the dangers that Panama faces from sea-level rise and unprecedented flooding and the three major steps that the country is taking to address climate change: the new Panama Canal expansion that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from huge oceangoing vessels by decreasing the length of important global trade routes; improvements to Panama City’s public transportation system; and Panama’s plan for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, which received approval from the United Nations.


The working group creates an important dialogue between the scientific community—climate modelers, hydrologists, agriculture experts, economists and sociologists—and the risk-management and disaster-prevention community.

Working-group participants visited the Smithsonian’s canopy crane in Panama City’s Metropolitan Nature Park and research station on Barro Colorado Island where they were briefed on the Center for Tropical Forest Science’s worldwide network of forest dynamics plots, one of the few experiments to provide immediate information about the effects of global climate change on forests, and the Agua Salud Project—an experiment conducted in collaboration with the Panama Canal Authority, Panama’s Natural Resources Authority and the HSBC Climate Partnership to evaluate the effects of land-use decisions on water flow, carbon storage and biodiversity in the Panama Canal watershed.

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