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Seminar on ICT-Integrated Geospatial Sciences: Empowering Climate Change Solutions through Digital-Environment System Coalition, May 16, 2024, COMSATS University Islamabad

 Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Inter-Islamic Network on Information Technology (INIT) in collaboration with Department of Meteorology, COMSATS University Islamabad convened a seminar titled "ICT-Integrated Geospatial Sciences: Empowering Climate Change Solutions through Digital-Environment System Coalition". Dr Tahir Naeem, Executive Director, INIT/ Director, P&D and HRD, COMSATS University Islamabad, welcomed all guests, speakers, and participants in his opening remarks. He emphasized the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with Geospatial Sciences, explaining the use of digital tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data related to climate change. He highlighted the importance of collaboration and coordination among various stakeholders, including government agencies, research institutions, NGOs, and local communities, to address climate change challenges.

During his presentation on "Geospatial Sciences and Its Applications”, Dr M. Farooq Iqbal Buzdar, lead scientist of the Applied Geo-Informatics Research Lab, Department of Meteorology, COMSATS University Islamabad, discussed the applications of Remote Sensing and GIS. He covered various topics, including land use and land cover changes using historical data, spatial probability of projected urban expansion, future simulations and modeling, land deformation and subsidence using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), marine oil spill detection using both active and passive techniques, and their impacts on urbanization and aquatic environments. Additionally, he discussed trace gas monitoring using Sentinel-5P Satellite Remote Sensing techniques and the impact of forest fires on trace gases. He also presented a spatiotemporal analysis of heatwaves in southern Pakistan and flood hazard mapping.

Dr Tim Unwin, Emeritus Professor, Royal Holloway University of London, UK/ Former UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, emphasized the United Nations' sustainable development goal to reduce inequality within and among countries. He critically assessed traditional techniques and advocated for state-of-the-art methods, including ICT, GIS, and Remote Sensing. He discussed the historical role of Remote Sensing and the application of geospatial sciences in addressing climate change and global warming. By leveraging ICT and geospatial sciences, it becomes possible to identify trends, assess risks, and implement targeted interventions. He also highlighted the responsibilities of the developed world toward developing countries.

A panel discussion session was held with Prof. Dr Tim Unwin, Prof. Dr Athar Hussain, Department of Meteorology, COMSATS University Islamabad, and Ms Qudsia Zafar, Climatologist, Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan. Dr Muhammad Imran Shahzad, Chairman/Head, Department of Meteorology, COMSATS University Islamabad, moderated the discussion. Prof. Tim Unwin shared his insights on the role of ICTs in addressing climate change, focusing on how the world's poorest and most marginalized people might benefit from these technologies despite their potential to increase global inequalities. Ms Qudsia Zafar discussed her work on assessing the performance of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report (AR-4) global climate models over Pakistan and the impacts of climate change. Prof. Dr Athar Hussain addressed the global temperature increase, specifically noting that Pakistan's temperature is rising at a rate of 0.33 degrees per decade, with a one-degree increase projected within 30 years. Through interactive panel discussions, attendees gained insights into how ICT-integrated geospatial sciences can empower communities, policymakers, and organizations to address climate change challenges effectively.

Prof. Dr Sajid Qamar, President, INIT/Rector, COMSATS University Islamabad, highlighted the use of ICT tools such as GIS, Remote Sensing, and data analytics for innovative strategies in climate change adaptation and resilience-building. This interdisciplinary approach aims to harness the power of digital technologies and spatial data to better understand, monitor, and mitigate the impacts of climate change on the environment and society. He also expressed the role of digital-environment system coalitions in facilitating collaboration between stakeholders and promoting sustainable solutions to combat climate change. He emphasized the global pursuit of opportunities and thanked the organizing committee, speakers, and panelists.

The seminar concluded with a group photograph and refreshments.

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Keywords: Seminar