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Swedish aid agency supporting WKU/United Nations project

Last week in Paris, France, officials from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced that the international project IGCP598: Environmental Change and Sustainability in Karst Systems, co-led by Dr. Chris Groves, University Distinguished Professor at WKU, will receive additional funding support from the Swedish Government for its capacity-building efforts.

IGCP598 operates under the auspices of UNESCO’s International Geoscience Program, with support from the International Union of Geological Sciences, and is an international effort to encourage high quality, basic and applied scientific research to advance the understanding of how environmental change over a variety of timescales impacts functions of karst systems, and where appropriate to inform sound decision making.

The project is the fourth in a series of karst-related environmental efforts under UNESCO’s umbrella that WKU has participated in over the last 15 years. These have provided opportunities for numerous WKU students, faculty and staff to travel to conferences and field excursions in Vietnam, Greece, China, Switzerland, Croatia and several other countries.

The new funding comes from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in recognition of IGCP598’s capacity building activities, with related training activities planned here at WKU, in Slovenia and in China this year.  According to SIDA, “your project has been selected, not only to achieve outstanding scientific goals but also to mentor leaders from targeted areas” including Africa, the Middle East and Iran.

“While these projects over the years have featured cooperation with scientists from these regions,” said Dr. Groves, who directs WKU’s Hoffman Environmental Research Institute, “it’s been pretty limited compared to Asia and Europe.”

The new funding will subsidize travel support for scientists from the targeted areas to travel to IGCP513 conferences and training activities.

“The Hoffman Institute’s success over the years in developing the capacity of faculty and students to address these critical issues across the planet,” said Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling, “has contributed to WKU’s expanding international reach. This research helps to focus attention on strategies that contribute to improvements in the human condition.”

Contact: Chris Groves, (270) 745-5974.

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