Francesco Fiondella

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Founding Member

Location: US
Work: Climate adaptation, climate risk management

Climate and public health: Training decision makers

By Francesco Fiondella, 2009-06-05
For the last week, 12 public-health professionals and climate scientists from ten countries have been studying at Columbia University's Lamont campus, where the International Research Institute for Climate and Society is based, to learn how to use climate information to make better decisions for health-care planning and disease prevention. They're taking part in the second Summer Institute on Climate Information for Public Health, organized by IRI, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) and the Mailman School of Public Health.Now that the world's attention is focused on climate change, it is essential for the health community to better understand the role climate plays in determining the fundamentals of health - air, water and food - as well as its role as a driver of specific outcomes related to infectious disease."After all, health is fundamental to the way we understand human well-being, and a key indicator of sustainable development", says Madeleine Thomson, who runs the IRI's Health and Africa programs, and is a principal organizer of the course. "Here, we like to think of climate as both a challenge and a resource."Extreme weather events or prolonged droughts are often associated with negative outcomes, Thomson says, but by understanding climate and its associated impacts and potential predictability, decision makers can start responding proactively to climate challenges. In some situations, they can even get ahead of the game, she says.To learn more about the training course and about the connection between public health and climate, please visit the Summer Institute home page.
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IPCC Chief Rajendra Pachauri new IRI Board Chairman

By Francesco Fiondella, 2009-05-29
Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, has agreed to serve as the next board chairman of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.I think theres so much that the IRI can do. Climate change gives us an opportunity to reengage with rest of world and the IRI is uniquely placed to do that, Pachauri said during IRIs board meeting last week, the first in which he served as chairman.Columbia University hosted a small event commemorating Pachauris new role in the institution, as well as honoring outgoing chairman and respected climate scientist Michael B. McElroy, from Harvard University.We are very appreciative of Mikes support and counsel, which have helped build the institution from its infancy to where it is today, said IRI Director-General Stephen E. Zebiak. And we are both excited and honored to welcome Dr. Pachauri as our board chair. Hes a recognized global leader in climate affairs, and will assist us in engaging the growing international agenda on adaptation and climate risk management.The Earth Institutes Jeffrey Sachs, also an IRI board member, praised the IRIs mission, which is to enhance societys ability to understand, anticipate and manage climate risk in order to improve human welfare.The IRI was 13 years ahead of its time in seeing the importance of linking climate and society, he said. The world is catching up now. Climate-change adaptation is front and center, and no other institution in the world has pioneered this field with such depth and skill.Visit the IRIs Governance pages to learn more about the institutions board and its role.
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Betting on the Rains - a story about the Southern Cone

By Francesco Fiondella, 2009-04-30
betting_on_the_rains_6.jpgHi, our latest story, written by one of our communications interns:Rising global food prices and favorable rainfall patterns in recent decades have allowed farmers in South America's Southern Cone region to grow crops on formerly marginal lands. But if climate patterns shift and the rains start to fail, the region could face devastating losses in its economy, livelihoods and infrastructure.The IRI is working with local partners to characterize the climatic variability of the region and to take actions that will allow people in these marginal lands to be more resilient to climate-related risks.Read the rest of the story on the home page of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.
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