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Kicking off China-Thailand joint program of Watershed Sciences and Sustainable Management within the “Future Earth” Framework

On May 8, 2017, the China-Thailand joint program of Watershed Sciences and Sustainable Management within the “Future Earth” Framework was successfully kicked off in the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Science (Xiamen).The vice president of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), Prof. Congqiang Liu (an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) and the secretary-general of the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), Prof. Sirirurg Songsivilai, addressed the scientist from the two nations during the kickoff ceremony. Principal investigators of the five joint projects from both sides had an in-depth discussion and reached a consensus on the key scientific issues, research objectives and contents, action plans, bilateral cooperation and data sharing among projects.
The “Future Earth” is a global scientific program proposed by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the Belmont Forum and the International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research (IGFA). The aim of the “Future Earth” is to build a bridge to enhance exchange and collaboration between natural and social sciences for the environment and human aspects of global changes. It is an initiative to provide theoretical and technical solutions for global sustainable development via increasing scientific influences on global changes. Asia, the most energetic and promising development region in the world, is now facing great impacts of global climate change and intense human activity, such as floods, droughts, water shortages in resources and quality, ecosystem dysfunctions, and coastal wetland loss. These impacts are challenging the regional economic and social developments in Asia which require sustainable development solutions.
As two friendly and neighboring countries, China and Thailand hold a full mutual political trust after over 40-year diplomatic relation building. The bilateral trade and economic cooperation keep expanding as well as the cultural and educational exchanges, contributing to the sustainable and healthy bilateral relations. The mutual political trust and sustainable bilateral relations not only substantially benefit to people of the two countries but also make a critical contribution to peace keeping and steady economic growth in the Southeast Asia region. With the “Belt and Road Initiatives” advancing, China and Thailand cooperation in science, education and cultural exchange emerges a great upgrading space following significant achievements in infrastructure construction, interconnection, investment and trade between two countries. The mutual beneficial cooperation of multiple aspects between China and Thailand has become a model in implementing the “Belt and Road Initiatives”. With this opportunity, NSFC and NRCT collectively launched the program of “Watershed Sciences and Sustainable Management within the ‘Future Earth’ Framework”. The program is expecting to establish the international research and cooperation network to support sustainable development in Asian regions and to provide scientific cognition and policy proposals in solving problems of the regional resources and environmental management for sustainable development with integrating resources of China and Thailand and collaborations of international organizations and non-governmental organizations.
Five 4-year joint projects as the first batch of the program were granted by NSFC and NRCT with considerable funds in 2016. Through a competitive reviewing process, the joint research teams from Chinese institutions (Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Tsinghua University, Institute of Urban Environment, CAS, and China University of Geosciences (Beijing)) and Thai institutions (Asian Institute of Technology, Mahasarakham University, Ramkhamhaeng University, Chiang Mai University) were granted. These joint projects focus on changes of hydrological processes and fluxes under the climate change, biogeochemical processes and material circulation in response to environmental changes and human activities, water disaster and adaptive watershed management strategies, and impacts of climate and land use change on the water quantity and water quality in watersheds and other key scientific issues. Three typical tropical-subtropical watersheds, i.e. Jiulong River (China), Chao Phraya River and Mun River (Thailand) were selected as studying watershed for comparison studies. After the projects’ approval in 2016, Prof. Chongqiang Liu, the vice president of NSFC in charge of the International Collaboration, organized the coordination meeting on Chinese side and instructed to setup an academic committee, a coordination working group, and a management working group to secure the smooth implementation of the projects.
The China-Thai joint program of “Watershed Sciences and Sustainable Management” will make further efforts on fortifying the foundation of the development and collaboration between China and Thailand, which will foster international academic cooperation and resources sharing. Furthermore, the joint program will also strengthen innovational capability of young scientists and make further improvement on the international scientific influences of the two countries. Consequently, the program manifests the significant ideas of opening-up and cooperation, inclusive development and mutual benefit between China and Thailand, providing a vital demonstration for the joint projects on science and technology between China and the countries along the “Belt and Road Initiatives”.

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