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Global environmental change research: empowering developing countries

This paper discusses ways of reconciling the Millennium Development Goals with environmental sustainability. Using an example from Brazil — the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) — the authors examine why researchers aiming to produce sound scientific understanding to support sustainable development often fall short.

Translating knowledge created by the LBA project into public policies proved difficult. The authors blame this failure on resource limitations, weak institutions and scientists' inexperience in applying science to real situations.

They suggest that establishing centres of excellence in developing regions is a necessary first step to creating a bottom-up approach to sustainability that includes innovative ways of assessing ecosystem services. These centres must be able to effectively use and produce applications-directed research and bring it to bear on decision-making related to environmental change and sustainable management of natural resources, say the authors.