University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner made his report to the Board of Regents at their meeting, August 18, 2016.

  1. Pacific Disaster Center at the Olympics
  2. UH at the IUCN World Conservation Congress

Pacific Disaster Center at the Olympics

The Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) is a major federal Department of Defense program in the Maui Research and Technology Park that has been managed by UH since 2006. The PDC provides geospatial information and analytical support and tools to improve resilience in the event of natural and man-made disasters. PDC supports the U.S. government, the State of Hawaiʻi and nations in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

A major event like the Olympics has significant requirements for the preparation, detection and response to disasters. SOUTHCOM and its partners (NGA, DTRA, etc.) have decided to use the PDC RAPIDS system for monitoring/response to 2016 Olympics games. RAPIDS is the PDC software platform already in wide use by local, national and international disaster management professionals. In preparation for the Olympics, PDC updated RAPIDS with relevant data (Olympic venues, Rio de Janeiro information, etc.) and PDC staff are on high alert until after the games to maximize RAPIDS uptime and availability.

The Enhanced Joint Operating Center is a 24/7 activity during the Olympics. They have RAPIDS on their “wall of knowledge” taking half of their big screens with a setup similar to what is used at SOUTHCOM.

UH at the IUCN World Conservation Congress

The World Conservation Congress (WCC) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world’s premiere conservation organization and event. It meets every four years, and the meeting in Hawaiʻi next month is the first time the group has met in the U.S. It is considered by planners and the U.S. government to be APEC-like.

UH has been an integral part of the team responsible for pitching Hawaiʻi to IUCN and for planning our work as the hosts. In addition, UH scientists, researchers, scholars, faculty and students are participating in a broad range of initiatives before, during and after the formal 10-day event. IUCN WCC offers Hawaiʻi a unique opportunity to share lessons that we have learned from living in the world’s most geographically remote islands, learn from other communities facing similar conservation and sustainability challenges and leverage international resources to bolster and support lasting efforts in conservation locally long after the congress is gone. UH is involved in more than 18 conference events (workshop/panel/presentation) with more than 20 students, faculty and staff formally participating. Some selected highlights include:

World Commission on Environmental Law Programming (William S. Richardson School of Law)

  • This one-day event provides a specific opportunity for all associated with the IUCN World Conservation Congress to focus on the role of the judiciary around the world in the protection the environment in general and the conservation of nature in particular.

Workshop: Living Shorelines on Tropical Islands: Creating and maintaining healthy coastal systems and improving community resilience in the face of climate change (SOEST)

  • Living Shorelines integrate habitat restoration techniques, coastal engineering and conservation to mitigate coastal hazards and climate change through the incorporation of natural elements. While used effectively in mainland coastal areas, living shorelines in tropical island settings will look and function differently. Participants in this workshop will roll up their sleeves and work with living shoreline models from a variety of tropical settings and brainstorm decision guidelines.

Knowledge Café: Developing Pilina with Place Through Kilo, environmental Observations and Interpretation of Hawaiian Place Names, Wahi Pana (UH Hilo)

  • This session is designed to introduce participants to the application of cultural practice in scientific research conducted in Hawaiʻi by bringing scientists and cultural practitioners together to exchange knowledge about their practices and relationship to their natural resources to develop a methodology that implements both knowledge systems.

More broadly, UH will be sharing our rich history of leading-edge research in conservation, climate change and the natural sciences. For example, the Keeling Curve graph, made famous by Al Gore’s breakthrough climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which plots the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958, is based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaiʻi Island that began under the supervision of Charles David Keeling. Examples of other major UH conservation research and engagement highlights include:

  • Our new ʻIke Wai $20M research partnership (supported by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR program) seeks to address critical gaps in the understanding of Hawaiʻi’s water supply that limit decision-making, planning, and crisis responses UH coral reef research, also highlighted last month at the International Coral Reef Symposium at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center, seeks to reverse the rapid coral reef decline we are observing as ocean temperatures rise and oceans become more acidic, corals are declining in record numbers
  • UH researchers are working to combat Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, a fungal disease with the potential to wipe out the indigenous tree on Hawaiʻi Island and perhaps even throughout the state. At the same time we are banking seeds to protect against losing the species forever.
  • The Ala Wai Canal is oft-cited as one of the most heavily polluted water bodies in the nation and sits within the Ala Wai watershed, which includes Waikīkī as well as Mānoa. Primarily the the Ala Wai Watershed Partnership, UH scientists, researchers and extension agents are coordinating with others across federal and state government, the non-profit sector and the business community to try to leverage public finances to unlock private investment in designing, building, maintaining and operating an inspiring future for the Ala Wai and its ahupuaʻa.