The Opportunity: a global agenda with local impact

K4P Alliances aim to promote a transatlantic dialogue to better understand “Human Agency” and the need to guarantee responsible, climate-aware systems in complex landscapes in a decentralized and AI-supported digital age.

It is under this context that K4P Alliances will promote projects and initiatives seeking to:

  • engage the public and private sectors;
  • foster academic collaborations with social and economic actors at large; and
  • international collaboration across north-south, south-north, south-south and north-north regions. It will leverage the momentum on transatlantic related issues and mobilize a wide network of industry and innovation stakeholders across the Atlantic.

Building on the experience of the promoters, this initiative will launch a series of new concrete actions and will explore new outputs over time and in a stepwise process, including an integrated thinking across disciplines and unprecedented interconnectivity, including:

  • Promoting relevant institutional innovations in a way to consider distributed, plural and collaborative institutional frameworks;
  • Building new data ecologies with advanced observation methods, including satellite-data and in-orbit servicing, coupled with advanced in-situ data collection and processing systems, together with adequate user interfaces and far front technical tools of analysis; and
  • Fostering new knowledge and capacity building.

The goal is to launch a stepwise process towards an international “Think and Do Tank” to foster tomorrow’s Human Agency through new research, scientific diplomacy and advocacy. The initiative is organized and implemented in terms of “Regional Chapters”, following a stepwise approach, as described below.

Line of Action 1: Collaborative Innovation

Action 1 aims to promote forms of institutional innovation and community-based participatory research and innovation to foster new and healthy jobs in the Global South.

The ultimate goal is to promote an international network of collaborative projects, initiatives and laboratories, in the form of centers of excellence in close collaboration with local actors, including data centres equipped with Earth Observation capacities and skills.

Potential sample topics include:

  • innovation in sustainable and healthy territories, using social cartographies as participatory method for collective research;
  • open access libraries of natural products and components, together with ways of economically valuing these products and components;
  • digital modelling for low carbon economies, including the systematization of the digital representation of urban and agroforestry areas in the form of “Digital Twins”, together with modelling scenarios oriented towards sustainable development;
  • low carbon bio economies and innovation in land usage, facilitating better sustainable exploitation of biological assets in agroforestry structures in Tropical Biomes and in the Tropical rainforest in Africa;
  • innovation in coastal bio economies and blue carbon, including tropical mangroves and green aquaculture, along with innovation in land use and wetland/mangrove carbon mapping; innovation in sustainable and renewable energies and other breakthrough technologies, including those fostering sustainable urban landscapes; and
  • innovation in “green finance”, promoting sustainable financing of “net-zero” economies.

Line of Action 2: Transdisciplinary data Observatories

Action 2 aims to build “data ecologies” with advanced observation methods oriented towards two fundamental issues, as follows:

  • Land use, biodiversity, soil and carbon observatory: aims to provide a new satellite-based and data-driven land-use monitoring system and carbon mapping designed to dynamically map forest/agroforestry structures and coastal areas (i.e., tropical mangroves, saltmarshes). The goal is to consider soil monitoring, water management and vegetation fuel loads with high temporal and spatial resolution, as well as carbon stock and sequestration levels. It will be implemented through pilot projects in Latin America, and Africa, as well as in the Global North, to be gradually leverage to entire regional contexts.

  • Community-centered innovation observatory and dynamics of sustainable and healthy territories: aims to provide a systematic identification, description and analysis of emerging innovation paths engaging communities and people at large in eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, and achieving sustainable development. It will focus on initiatives oriented to foster the concept of “One Health” together with sustainable and healthy territories oriented towards greening the economy and society. It considers the observation of “Living Labs” and co-creation mechanisms, in a way to guide novel user-centered approaches to green research and innovation across the Atlantic. It also includes the development and dissemination of innovative community research and practices, based on emerging methodologies, such as social cartography, intersectoral studies, ecologies of knowledge and sustainable and healthy territories.

Line of Action 3: Capacity Building

Action 3 aims to foster capacity building, skill development and new knowledge, including the following potential activities oriented towards the Global South, particularly Africa and Latin America:

  • Educational programme development, including:
    • Joint and double post-graduation diplomas (short, non-degree diplomas) and potential joint degree programs (Master level): aims to facilitate the development of joint post-graduation programs (degree and non-degree) around the program themes and oriented to contribute to train “leaders of the future”, with special emphasis on the training and qualification of “knowledge managers”, in order to train and qualify human resources for the management of science, technology and innovation, together with the planning of forms of sustainable development;
    • Visiting scholarships program: aims to provide an annual program of selected visiting scholars in leading institutions worldwide, for periods until nine months, oriented to foster new insights in the program;
    • Research students’ program: aims to provide an annual program for six to 12 months scholarships for selected research students in leading institutions worldwide oriented to contribute to promote doctoral research training concerning the program;

  • Training for capacity building and skills development, which includes enabling local participation in skills and competence development for stimulating human agency and inclusive local development;

  • Competitive program for collaborative research: aims to facilitate the development of joint multidisciplinary research and innovation projects around the program, including researchers’ mobility, oriented to contribute to foster new knowledge and to apply it. It should be based on periodic “Calls for Proposals” for collaborative research projects of one to three years, to be assessed by a panel on international experts;

  • Policy and data briefs: includes the preparation and publication of a series of three to four data and policy briefs per year, oriented to foster the interaction of policymakers with communities, scientists, and people at large, oriented to operationalize policy strategy and science-based policy making. It considers data briefs about carbon sequestration in different types of forest/agroforest and consistent plots along time, as well as data on the development of regional bio-economies and of sustainable and healthy territories. Emphasis will be on “data briefs” about: i) carbon sequestration in different types of forest/agro-forestry structures and wetlands (i.e., mangroves); ii) data on regional development of bio-economies; iii) equitable and sustainable health, which articulates the environmental, economic, political and social determinants associated with health and disease in terms of the development of sustainable and healthy territories;

  • Workshops, conferences, and other ways of outreach aiming to strength community engagement and the development of science and innovation culture, through a diversified set of initiatives, including: i) public talks and meetings to contribute to deepen technical and policy debates, increase the visibility of the program and to foster science diplomacy; ii) science events to bosting science-led competences in communities at large; and iii) participatory research activities.

K4P Alliances consider a critically relevant set of actions to engage and sponsor visiting scholars, research students and to train and qualify human resources for the management of science, technology and innovation, together with the planning of forms of sustainable development for the Global South. This includes researching new understandings of the governance of emerging risks and new futures for complex systems and “data ecologies”, with emphasis on potential paths towards carbon neutrality of urban[1] and rural landscapes[2] , including the agglomeration of people and skills in urban contexts to help developing forms of sustainable land management and “knowledge-based landscape urbanism” [3] . It will be conducted in close articulation with leading institutions worldwide, to attempt contributing to reduce the gap between design innovation and societal impact by addressing societal and cultural conditions associated with contemporary living standards and income distribution.

The research and training programs will consider emerging trends in technology policy and paradigms in technological innovation in terms of the uncertainties we all face to deal with digital, ecological and demographic transitions, including those in association with the convergence of digital systems with physical, natural and medical sciences, as well as data and urban sciences, but in a context of a required improved understanding of “Human Agency” [4] and related collective behaviours[5] .

The challenge is to establish “Technology, Policy and Human Agency” as a field of study that focuses on complex systems and products, viewing those systems and products in their broad human, social, cultural and economic context. This requires a revisited approach of skill development, behavioural analysis, institutional innovation and smart regulation, based on a transdisciplinary commitment towards integrative analysis of data ecologies, systems design and policy research.

The analysis will take into account emerging forms of knowledge production and diffusion in a decentralized and AI supported digital age[6] and will be focused on complex landscapes, including urban systems and rural landscapes among other complex systems (e.g., forests and the ocean), which are particularly critical for the required green transition of our societies, together with our global well-being.

Following the growth of urban areas worldwide, cities and rural landscapes have become increasingly complex and their evolution towards carbon neutrality require interdisciplinary approaches that builds upon new “data ecologies”. This requires making use of satellite-based high-resolution images, oriented towards carbon sensing, integrated with in-situ information and new data collection systems, which may offer a new way of thinking about cities and other landscapes if conveniently integrated with advanced analysis of social, economic and cultural interactions together with forms of “Responsible AI”. Different typologies of cities and emerging developments in low-density rural areas provide sample case studies for new in-depth analyses based on high-resolution carbon mapping and observation.

In addition, understanding patterns of potential technical change in urban and rural areas in any world region requires a comprehensive analysis of landscape design in terms of related socio-political and cultural dynamics, including the levels and paths of social stratification, income distribution and the opportunities for social mobility across our diversified regional contexts.

Potential projects to be developed include:

  1. Risk communication and capacity building based on high-resolution satellite-based carbon mapping and observation strategies, integrating advanced data ecologies and modelling oriented towards forest fire prevention and related health issues, in a way fostering case studies worldwide with potential local impact. The ultimate goal is to help incorporating the health impacts of climate change into greenhouse gas mitigation and climate adaptation policymaking;

  2. Advanced analysis of urban expansion processes and related capacity building strategies towards urban densification patterns leading to effective carbon neutral cities in highly diversified north and south contexts;

  3. Policy research and development in association with emerging forms of carbon modelling, mapping and observation in complex urban contexts leading to comprehensive forms of urban observation, integrated with advanced analysis of social, economic and cultural interactions together with forms of “Responsible AI”;

  4. Policy research and development oriented towards sustainable land management, including the analysis of the social, economic and scientific context associated with specific local and endogenous cultures in diversified world regions (e.g., Amazonia; Northern Portugal; California).

The research work will be reported as an example of the need to focus upon in-depth knowledge of real social, political and economic processes of successful science, technology and knowledge-based developments over the last decades in Europe, the Americas and Africa. The foreseen critical policy framework will address key policies and policy instruments aimed at reinforcing and consolidating knowledge based economies in emerging societies in Atlantic regions.

[1] See, for example, Waldheim, C. (2016), “Landscape as Urbanism: A General Theory”, Princeton Univ Press; New jersey; and Bettencourt, L. (2021), “Introduction to Urban Science”; MIT Press, Cambridge.

[2] See, for example, Benedito, S. (2021), “Atmosphere Anatomies: On Design, Weather, and Sensation”, Lars Muller Publs.

[3] Cromar, K.,Howard,P: Vásquez, V-N. and Anthoff, D. (2021); “Health Impacts of Climate Change as Contained in Economic Models Estimating the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide”, GeoHealth, Volume 5 (8).

[4] UNDP (2019), “The Human Development Report”, chapter 6; UNDP, New York.

[5] Bak-Coleman, J. et al, (2021), “Stewardship of global collective behavior”, PNAS, June 21, 2021.

[6] Helga Nowotny (2021), “In AI we Trust: Power, Illusion and Control of predictive algorithms”, Polity Books.

Action 4: Regional Chapters

K4P Alliances has been designed, organized and implemented in terms of “Regional Chapters”, following a stepwise approach and making use of the experience of partner institutions in various regions:

  • Latin America and Caribbean Chapter, including specific actions in: i) Tropical Biomes (Amazonia; Cerrado; Mata Atlântica; Caatinga; Pampa; Pantanal); ii) Tropical mangroves in coastal areas; iii) different ecosystems in the Caribbean Sea, including the region between the main port cities of Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta; iii) main and vulnerable bay areas (e.g., Guanabara bay, in Rio de Janeiro; Todos os Santos Bay, in Bahia).

  • Sub-Saharan Africa Chapter, including specific actions in sub-Saharan Africa (including Senegal, Cape Verde; Guinea Bissau, Benin, Ghana, S. Tomé e Príncipe, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Rwanda) aiming to : i) characterization of biodiversity levels through changes in natural land use, pollution, and variations in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, changes in the nitrogen cycle and acid rain, climate change, and the introduction of exotic species; ii) development of pilot projects for local bioeconomies in a wide variety of climate zones and precipitation patterns, based on the characterization of landforms from rift valleys to mountains and deserts; and iii) development of pilot projects oriented to foster human nutrition and related influence on world food production, in a way to ensure the sustainable productivity of soils and to provid the genetic resources for all crops, livestock, and marine species harvested for food.

  • Ocean Chapter, including specific actions with: i) Pilot projects for ocean and marine biology mapping making use of advanced, satellite-based, ocean observation methods; ii) Pilot Projects for “ocean interactions” to better map ocean-energy-climate interactions; and iii) Pilot Projects for offshore aquaculture;

  • Other chapters to be considered, may include:
    • Indo-Pacific;
    • Europe, including specific actions and pilot projects in Portugal, the South European Mediterranean Forest and in the Nordic Forests;
    • California, through the “California Forest Observatory”, particularly for international comparison;
    • others to be identified.