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EU Cooperation Capacity Building of Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia: Towards Armenia’s integration into the ERA

Final Report Summary - ECOARM2ERA (EU Cooperation Capacity Building of Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia: Towards Armenia’s integration into the ERA)

Executive Summary:
EcoArm2ERA project as FP7 Supporting Action was aimed at strengthening the cooperation capacities of the Armenian leading research institute in the area of environment protection and monitoring: Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies of National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (CENS).
To achieve this goal, EcoArm2ERA brought together two leading research institutes from the EU (UCD and UNIGE), as well as experts in local research strategy (National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia) and in FP7/Horizon2020 training and project management (GIRAF) – each of them played a fundamental role in reinforcing CENS’ capacities and integration into ERA.

This overall goal was achieved through the following specific objectives:
1. Objective1: To define and promote a sustainable development strategy for the Armenian CENS focussing on the overall improvement of the institution’s capacities, visibility, and competitiveness.
2. Objective 2: To develop a strategic partnership between CENS and (i) the Earth Institute, University College Dublin (UCD), and (ii) the Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva (UNIGE). To build CENS’ capacity to acquire and carry out international collaborative research partnerships.
3. Objective 3: To build the competencies needed by Armenian researchers and staff members in order to participate in the FP7/Horizon 2020 programmes.

Clearly significant results achieved have been:
1. Strategy Development Agenda (SDA) for CENS. Based on SWOT analysis the SDA was developed for CENS with clear recommendations for capacity building and Internationalization. The SWOT analysis revealed CENS ambitious capacities and research priorities, which makes it possible for CENS to become Government’s expert body and service provider highlighting the central role in Armenia and in the region.
2. Capacity building. Capacity building of the department of GIS and Remote sensing technologies of CENS totally improve of working environment of the staff, which notably increase envisages emphasizing those of young researchers.
3. Joint research. The partnership of CENS with European partner organizations that was started around the activity of developing environmental observation and spatial decision support system (SDSS) as defined in the plan of the joint research, was developed through planning and implementing joint research projects.
4. Raised visibility of CENS and strong ties with leading European organizations. Among the various ways of promoting CENS internationalization, two were realized during the implementation of EcoArm2ERA project: (i) integration of CENS into main international initiatives (Group on Earth Observations, Open Geospatial Consortium), (ii) integration into the European scientific consortiums (research “families”) of ongoing projects, which enabled to be acquainted not only to the new research methodologies, but also to provide new use cases for joint research.

Project Context and Objectives:
Few organizations deal with environment-related research in Armenia. CENS is an active group with strong leadership carrying out fundamental and applied studies in ecology and environment protection. Multidisciplinary investigations performed in the CENS are oriented to the complex assessment of ecological state of territories and development of scientific-and-methodical fundamentals of ecological expertise and optimization of natural resource management processes. CENS includes a number of problem-oriented laboratories and research teams dealing with environmental geochemistry, biogeochemical cycles, bio-monitoring, radioecology (primary data have systematically been collected since 1958), bio-energy, landscape planning, geo-pathogenic zones, GIS and Remote Sensing technologies. CENS is an absolutely central player in the field of environment research in Armenia and the region. Thus, building research cooperation capacities of CENS the EcoArm2ERA project delivered a systemic impact on the entire system of environment research of Armenia and brings the Armenia science systems closer to ERA.
Thus, the main goal of EcoArm2ERA project was to reinforce the cooperation capacities of Armenia’s leading research institute in the field of environmental research and ecology – Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies of National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (CENS).

This overall goal was achieved through the following specific objectives:
To define and promote a sustainable development strategy for the Armenian CENS focussing on the overall improvement of the institution’s capacities, visibility, and competitiveness.
To develop a strategic partnership between CENS and (i) the Earth Institute, University College Dublin (UCD), and (ii) the Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva (UNIGE). To build CENS’ capacity to acquire and carry out international collaborative research partnerships.
To build the competencies needed by Armenian researchers and staff members in order to participate in the FP7/Horizon 2020 programmes.
According to the timeline the following activities were performed within the scope of the main five Work Packages

1. WP1 - STRATEGY
WP1 was divided into two main tasks

SWOT analysis - The core of this activity was concerned with conducting SWOT analysis and creating Strategy Development Agenda (SDA) for CENS. Strategy Working Group was organized, which includes one representative from each partner-organization: CENS NAS RA, NUID UCD and UNIGE as well as NAS RA and State Committee of Sciences of the Ministry of Science and Education of Armenia for policy relevance. SWOT analysis required numerous questions to be answered, which are useful for the development of an action plan. The questionnaire designed included different types of questions: (i) an open format (ii) dichotomous questions (iii) Rating questions and aimed to the main domains of CENS
• Research (focus and structure/quality and success),
• Resourcefulness,
• Management efficiency,
• Financial resources/funding opportunities,
• Partnership

Strategy development Agenda - Following the conduct of SWOT analysis all materials were collected and carefully evaluated and analysed, and the Strategy Development Agenda (SDA) for CENS was developed. In accordance with the ongoing reforms in Armenia, the strategy gave clear recommendations for capacity building and internationalization as to how CENS should improve the research focus and structures with regard to links with other institutes to meet CENS' challenges.

2. WP 2 – TWINNING
This objective implied to develop strategic partnership between CENS and European partner organizations UCD as well as UNIGE. It was attained through the development and implementation of a joint research plan as well as through the conduct of a joint scientific workshop and a summer school.
Joint research plan - The development and implementation of the Plan for Joint Research was based on the areas of scientific excellence and capacities of CENS that were identified during the SWOT analysis. It was aimed at developing environmental observation and spatial decision support system (SDSS), which covered five main sub activities:
• Remote observation systems of the main environmental compartments (water, soil and plants).
• Detection and prediction of land-use changes and spatial planning.
• Urban geochemical peculiarities and public awareness.
• Improvement of grasslands environment and quality of feedstuff.
• Environment and food chains risk assessment
Each of these areas represented an opportunity for a dedicated research project with the detailed plan of joint research and dissemination activities in accordance to upcoming funding opportunities.

Joint scientific workshop - Joint scientific workshop "Integration of Spatial Decision Support Systems and Evidence Based Modeling in National/Regional Policy Applications and Regulatory Systems: Scientific and Policy Challenges" was organised by NUID UCD in Dublin in July 9-12, 2013. The objective of this workshop was to develop best practice evidence of both analytical tools and policy applications available in Europe, Canada and New Zealand. The workshop was collocated with international congress on Planning for Resilient Cities and Regions organised in University College Dublin in 15th - 19th July 2013 (http://aesop-acspdublin2013.com).

EcoArm2ERA’s summer school - Summer school entitled "Bridging ICTs and Environment - Spatial Planning and Environmental Assessment for Decision Making in Europe", held at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary, 7-11 July 2014. The goal was to establish initial contacts and to foster collaborative ties between young researchers (mainly PhD level, PostDoc, and young researchers) from both Armenia (selected by CENS) and the EU (UCD, UNIGE, and other institutions).

Networking with European partners via association membership to the pan-European research consortiums - Since 2011 Armenia has been participating to national and international initiatives in order to use the mechanisms and tools of geospatial data processing, storage and sharing provided by e-infrastructures, thanks to technical and institutional support of UniGE. That was resulted in CENS integration into two huge global initiatives - Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

3. WP 3 – TRAINING

The attainment of this objective is achieved through two measures: (i) the conduct of two training FP7/HORIZON2020 workshops and (ii) the set-up and implementation of a coaching scheme for the research administrators and other relevant staff members of CENS. The FP7/HORIZON2020 training workshops comprised a session to raise the awareness among the participating Armenian researchers on EU priority research areas and upcoming cooperative funding opportunities in FP7/HORIZON2020.

4. WP 4 – COORDINATION & DISSEMINATION

During the lifetime of the project the Project web-site has been created and updated regularly by CENS highlighting the main outputs, news and event of the project (www.ecoarm2era.eu). Special attention was given to the dissemination activities within EcoArm2ERA. Dissemination strategy was based on to present the general idea of the project to the target group members, related organizations, stakeholders and public. Design and development of all promotional materials were handed out at the events and through the partners by CENS. EcoArm2ERA poster and leaflet was created, which was disseminated and delivered in the international research events and meetings.

5. WP 5 – MANAGEMENT
Taking into account the relatively small size of the project, the management structure is as simple as possible, but as comprehensive and specialized as necessary to successfully meet the requirements of the different aspects of project management.

Project Results:
The objectives stated for the project went in line with the overall aim of the project. The work plan has proceeded according to the schedule that has been outlined. The work involving all the consortium members (NUID UCD, UNIGE and GIRAF PM). The start of the project have been done by the first meeting (kick-off meeting).
Kick-off meeting
Kick-off meeting took place in Yerevan on February 27-28, 2012, at CENS, where the main tasks and various issues of the project were discussed and agreed. The meeting had two sessions: welcome session chaired by the Vice-President of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia was aimed to meet the consortiums of the three EU FP7 projects (EcoArm2ERA, IPERA and INARMERA-ICT) funded by the European Commission and European Commission Project Officer (PO), who was welcomed by Chairmen of the State Committee of Sciences of the Ministry of Education of Sciences of Armenia, Deputy Minister of Economy of Armenia, Director, CNRS Moscow Office and Cooperation Attaché, of the Embassy of France to Armenia (fig.2). The next session was conducted at CENS, where the members from all partner organizations (CENS, NUID UCD, UNIGE, GIRAF PM) were participated. The latter started by a short excursion at CENS with purpose to be introduced the participants to the research activities of main departments of CENS.
The main work performed during the reporting period will be described for each work package.

Sustainable strategy for CENS
In order to identify the key internal and external factors that are important for strategic planning SWOT analysis for CENS should be conducted. For this purpose Strategy Working Group (SWG) was organized, which included one representative from each partner-organization: CENS NAS RA, NUID UCD and UNIGE as well as NAS RA and State Committee of Sciences of the Ministry of Science and Education of Armenia for policy relevance. SWOT analysis requires numerous questions to be answered, which are useful for the development of an action plan. The questionnaire designed included different types of questions: (i) an open format (ii) dichotomous questions (iii) Rating questions. The questions were addressed to already identify relevant administrative and scientific staff members of CENS NAS RA and potential stakeholders listed in schedule of SWOT analysis and aimed to the main domains of CENS
• Research (focus and structure/quality and success),
• Resourcefulness,
• Management efficiency,
• Financial resources/funding opportunities,
• Partnership
Interviews scheduled with stakeholders from the governmental organizations (State Committee of Sciences RA, Ministries of Agriculture, Municipalities etc.) as well as NGO-s, Aarhus Centers in Armenia and International organizations such as OSCE office in Yerevan were meant to have a general overview of a potential market of “scientific product”, to identify and seize opportunities of its extension and further development of CENS NAS RA.
SWOT analysis revealed CENS ambitious capacities and research priorities, which makes it possible for CENS to become Government’s expert body and service provider highlighting the central role in Armenia and in the region. CENS offers multidisciplinary research developments and services that are of special interest to state-governmental and international research organizations and authorities for decision-making.
According to the strategy of CENS development it is important for CENS to maintain close ties with international institutions and organizations for scientific development.
Among the various ways of promoting CENS internationalization, two were realized during the implementation of EcoArm2ERA project:
- Integration into the European scientific consortiums (research “families”) of ongoing projects, which enabled to be acquainted not only to the new research methodologies, but also to provide new use cases for joint research.
- Integration of CENS into main international initiatives (Group on Earth Observations, Open Geospatial Consortium, etc.)

Capacity building and joint research

Since 1990-s of special interest in environmental research carried out by CENS are E-science tools widely employed when managing ecological issues. Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) technologies are the main tools promoting the development of novel techniques of operative assessment of the status and dynamics of environmental systems. Based on results of the SWOT analysis the partnership of CENS with European partner organizations, started around the activity of developing environmental observation and spatial decision support system (SDSS), which covered five main sub activities:
• Remote observation systems of the main environmental compartments (water, soil and plants).
• Detection and prediction of land-use changes and spatial planning.
• Urban geochemical peculiarities and public awareness.
• Improvement of grasslands environment and quality of feedstuff.
• Environment and food chains risk assessment

Each of these areas represented an opportunity for a dedicated research project with the detailed plan of joint research and dissemination activities in accordance to upcoming funding opportunities.
The Swiss-Armenian ARPEGEO 2011-2013 (SCOPES-International Partnership) project started, simultaneously with EcoArm2ERA and successfully coordinated by UNIGE, which stimulated the capacity building of the department of GIS and Remote sensing technologies of CENS totally improving working environment of the staff and notably increasing envisages emphasizing those of young researchers. CENS was equipped with Geoserver on which a suite of open-source GIS software were installed (GeoServer, GeoNetwork, OpenLayers), which enables CENS to be one of the key providers of geospatial environmental data in Armenia. With the server on-site, the CENS can efficiently manage its growing set of geospatial data and can serve data to its various stakeholders in an efficient manner.
The partnership of CENS with European partner organizations started around the activity SDSS was continued through:
- Developing joint research projects
- Organizing exchanges of students and joint research and conducting joint events
- Networking with European partners via association membership to the pan-European research consortiums

CENS had the opportunity to be part of a large European consortium lead by UNIGE that bid for the FP7 call FP7-ENV-2013.6.3-3 with the so-called enviroWATERS proposal. The other consortium CENS was involved in, with the support of GIRAF PM that prepared and submitted one more R2I-MA proposal to the other FP7 call: FP7-INCO-2013-9, Activity 7.9. CENS was involved also in two Swiss-driven consortia bidding for calls from the Swiss National Science Foundation. The first one called RESPONSE was bidding for a Joint Research Project (Armenia-Switzerland) within the SNSF SCOPES 2013-2016 program. The second one was a large NCCR (National Center of Competence in Research), called ENVISAGE (ENVironmental ISsues Addressed through innovative Governance. ESA Quotation ITT AO/1-7563/13/NL/EM). Unfortunately, the two bids did not succeed.
Finally, UNIGE helped CENS to be part of the Advisory Board of a successfully ESA-funded project called WATERLENS (“Water Availability – Improved Monitoring, Forecasting and Control of Water Availability, Quality and Distribution”) in which UNIGE is partner. This was a great opportunity to interact with a highly skilled consortium in the area of Earth Observation.
The other integral part of the joint research plan was the planning of the mobility of researchers (schedule for the exchange of the researchers). Thus, student exchanges were developed and carried out between CENS (Environmental Geochemistry Department) and University of Geneva (Institute F.A. Forel).
These exchanges aimed to assess heavy metal pollution levels, to evaluate the bioaccumulation and toxicity of metals of Armenian rivers impacted by mining activities. For this purpose a master student from UNIGE (Ms. Valérie Parietti) visited Armenia twice (19-29.04.2014 and 04-14.06.2014) for field and lab works. A PhD student form CENS (Ms, Nairuhi Maghakyan) visited (17.05-04.06.2014) UNIGE to study and to carry out lab works (fig. 4).
This student exchanges will allow writing a Master thesis at UNIGE and will likely allow for a joined scientific paper between CENS and UNIGE. These exchanges can serve as a good basis for further collaboration and future projects bringing together the bioremediation methods that UNIGE has developed for solving the environmental pollution issues CENS has revealed in Armenia.
The other visit was planned in frame of EU-FP7 TURAS and EU-FP7 EcoArm2ERA projects collaboration. The new use case approach was agreed to share and present GIS datasets covering Yerevan city using the data sharing and online mapping tools developed in scope of TURAS project. 5 researchers from CENS have visited UCD in May 20-31, 2014 (fig. 5, 6). During this visit they have been introduced with the research works implemented at UCD in scope of Urban Environment Project (www.uep.ie) to adapt, calibrate and apply the land use model MOLAND for the Greater Dublin Region.
Through the practical workshop the participants have been trained to run the model using the datasets covering Yerevan city. Simple scenario simulations have been implemented to demonstrate the usefulness of this kind of research output for planners and decision makers as well as its potential value for Armenia.
Networking with European partners via associated membership to pan-European research consortiums and integration into global initiatives.

EcoArm2ERA started collaboration with the EU-FP7 EOPOWER project, which aimed to present Armenia as a pilot study and CENS is central to this pilot. The main goal of this use case is to apply the EGIDA methodology, thus contributing to institutional capacity building in order to make Earth Observation resources optimally used towards sustainable development in Armenia. The main mean to reach this goal is to apply, assess and consolidate a set of practices for a sustainable contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The roadmap was prepared, which included specific actions and guidelines to implement for the Armenian study. Based on EGIDA actions (networking and technical) and guidelines already selected by working group. Though the actions have already been taken starting from April 2014, CENS have been entered into the main stream since 2011 when Swiss-Armenian SCOPES "ARPEGEO" project (collaboration between UNIGE and CENS) have been started. As mentioned above, in the framework of ARPEGEO project CENS deployed the first environmental data sharing and interoperability services in Armenia. Strengthening the national capacities of geospatial data sharing, increased the visibility and national position of CENS as an expert in environmental research, and expended their regional and international networks in this field. The geospatial and environmental data sets and their associated metadata existing at CENS were integrated into an SDI by adopting the international standards from the Open Geospatial Consortium (Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), Web Coverage Service (WCS)) and from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 19139, 19115). Web Processing Services (WPS) were also developed at IIAP to compute a set of vegetation indices on user-defined satellite images. Eventually the data sets has been prepared to register into GEOSS, which enhanced the visibility for the availability of Armenian geospatial datasets on the regional and global scenes and further the integration of Armenia as a full member of GEO. For this aim the Government of Armenia started the official negotiations with GEO Secretariat. Eventually, in October 2014 Armenia became an official member of GEO and appeared with official statement in GEO XI Plenary held in Geneva, Switzerland 13-14 November, 2014.
Another step towards CENS internationalization was CENS full membership to the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), which will help CENS to find niches meeting many data/ service providers and to raise the market awareness.

CENS became also an associative member of:
• EU/FP7 EnviroGRIDs project consortium (30 partners) - a large network of research organizations, private companies, and national institutions in Europe lead by the University of Geneva (www.envirogrids.net). This associated partnership enabled CENS to take part in two big networking events: the full project meeting held in Sofia 18-20 April, 2012 and the final meeting of EnviroGRIDs project held in Batumi, Georgia, 30 Oct. - 1 Nov. 2012.
• EU/FP7 TURAS project consortium - strong network of European organizations lead by University College Dublin (http://www.turas-cities.org). This enabled CENS to take part in the second annual general meeting of the project held in Rome November 4th-5th.
Last but not least,the plan of Joint Research included two events for networking (i) the EcoArm2ERA joint scientific workshop and (ii) the EcoArm2ERA summer school.

EcoArm2ERA joint scientific workshop
Scientific workshop "Integration of Spatial Decision Support Systems and Evidence Based Modeling in National/Regional Policy Applications and Regulatory Systems: Scientific and Policy Challenges" was organised by NUID UCD in Dublin in July 9-12, 2013 (fig. 7). The objective of this workshop was to develop best practice evidence of both analytical tools and policy applications available in Europe, Canada and New Zealand. Scientists, researchers and policy makers from Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Armenia, Canada and New Zealand have presented their challenges, problems and solutions on the evidence-based modelling in policy applications.
The workshop materials consisted of 28 presentations are available on the organiser’s website at http://www.ucd.ie/gpep/events/seminarsworkshopsconferences/ecoarm2eralumanworkshop.
The linkage between presentations and the agenda is ensured to make it easy to find relevant materials.

As intended in the project plan, the workshop was collocated with international congress on Planning for Resilient Cities and Regions organised in University College Dublin in 15th - 19th July 2013 (http://aesop-acspdublin2013.com). This allowed participant to go beyond the workshop boundaries and get direct contacts with wide international research community. CENS took part to this event too with oral and poster presentations.
Summer school entitled "Bridging ICTs and Environment - Spatial Planning and Environmental Assessment for Decision Making in Europe", held at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary, 7-11 July 2014. The goal was to establish initial contacts and to foster collaborative ties between young researchers (mainly PhD level, PostDoc, and young researchers) from both Armenia (selected by CENS) and the EU (UCD, UNIGE, and other institutions), while offering a palette of lectures linked to CENS priority research areas.
These priorities were defined as Information and Communication technologies (ICT), environmental assessment and spatial planning. To increase the scope and impact of the event and its benefits for the young researchers, it was decided to collocate the summer school with another parallel school at CEU lead by Dr. Lagutov and targeting primarily midcareer environmental professionals as a preparatory activity for the Eye on Earth Summit 2014 (http://eyeonearthsummit.org): "Bridging ICTs and Environment - Making Information Talk and Technologies Work".
These two summer schools were linked under the umbrella thematic "Bridging ICTs and Environment" (http://summer.ceu.hu/talk-2014) and we were able to join the participants of both schools during the first day (Monday, Plenary) of our program. This was extremely beneficial both parallel schools in term of attracting interesting keynote lectures (e.g. from Google, ESRI, UNEP) and for the interactions between students, researchers and professionals in environment. The EcoArm2ERA summer school set of lectures aimed at facilitating integration of researchers from EU neighbours into the European research scene on ICT and spatial planning in environmental management and decision-making. The potential cooperation paths were presented to prospective collaborators from the target countries. A series of recently completed and ongoing research projects in the area of geospatial-based decision-making were presented and discussed. The summer school provided a forum for getting to know other potential collaborators in the related areas for the exchange of best practice and ideas and for networking activities. The feedbacks from the participants were very positive. However, we had several challenges when preparing this school, notably (1) the heterogeneity of the content, (2) the joint program with the summer school, and (3) the wide background of the participants. This event strengthened even more the collaboration between UNIGE, CENS and UCD. This allowed for a clearer understanding of research carried out in the three institutions, which laid the ground for future joint research projects.

In conclusion, research collaboration and exchange of experience with international colleagues permitted to
• contributing to improve research skills for CENS staff;
• improving skills on how to publish the results in peer-reviewed international scientific journals;
• identifying tools and extra-resources for implementing large-scale researches and raising their efficiency;
• developing the idea of creating joint research virtual laboratories between CENS and UNIGE/NUID UCD.
The results of developing international cooperation and integration and adapting the results of the research to present-day requirements will be reflected in the national and regional programs in which CENS will be involved.

Building competences needed for participation in FP7/Horizon2020

The attainment of this objective was achieved through two measures: (i) the conduct of two training FP7/Horizon2020 workshops and (ii) the set-up and implementation of a coaching scheme for the research administrators and other relevant staff members of CENS.
Two training events had goals to build the FP7 project acquisition and participation capacity among the principle research investigators of CENS.
First event lasted 2 days (23-24 April, 2014) was focused mostly on the general project management knowledge and skills (using FP7 as an example). Fundamentally, it addressed the following topics:
• How the European RTD schemes (FP7 and Horizon 2020) are structured. How to practically search for funding opportunities.
• Project acquisition (shaping project idea, partner search techniques, collaborative proposal development, what makes research proposal competitive, etc.)
• Proposal writing skills
• Proposal submission, evaluation, follow up.
• Basics of project management, including IPR regime in European research projects.
While the second training (2 Dec. 2013) built on the first training event was based on the practical experiences stemming from the submissions of several RTD proposals during 2012-2013, coaching activities implemented in 2013, and, on this basis, to facilitate a practical application of the acquired knowledge and skills right at the beginning of Horizon2020, coaching activities implemented in 2013, and, on this basis, to facilitate a practical application of the acquired knowledge and skills right at the beginning of Horizon2020.


Potential Impact:
Strengthening the national capacities of geospatial data sharing, EcoArm2ERA increased the visibility and national position of CENS as an expert in environmental research, and expended their regional and international networks in this field. In the framework of the EOPOWER project and under strong support of University of Geneva, a set of practices and guidelines – the so-called EGIDA methodology – was applied to contribute to institutional capacity building at CENS to optimally use Earth Observation resources towards sustainable development in Armenia (fig. 12) EcoARM2ERA was an ideal framework in which the gaps found in Armenia’s data sharing practices thanks to EGIDA methodology could be voiced, with solutions to address them. This is part of the general objective of the project to integrate Armenia into European and global research.. CENS – was instrumental in allowing the development of a Spatial Data Infrastructure to share many important environmental data and information. Data sets from the Center are now discoverable and accessible through the GEOSS. Due to UNIGE efforts, Armenia became an associative member of EU/FP7 EnviroGRIDs and EOPOWER projects coordinated by them and promoting the GEO/GEOSS framework among the Black Sea basin countries, including the two South Caucasian republics: Armenia and Georgia.
At the national level, CENS plan to establish a single coordination mechanism for data sharing, cooperating in an integrated manner with other agencies, organizations and levels of governance concerned with GEO Societal Benefit Areas.
4.2 Dissemination activities

Special attention was given to the dissemination activities within EcoArm2ERA. Dissemination strategy was based on to present the general idea of the project to the target group members, related organizations, stakeholders and public. Design and development of all promotional materials were handed out at the events and through the partners by CENS.

Official project website
The official EcoArm2ERA project website is available since March 2012 at www.ecoarm2era.eu.
The objective of this website is to provide information regarding the project addressed to the public. During the project lifetime, website visitors were informed about the project’s concept, progress and results. For more detailed information some results (deliverables) accepted by the EU are available for download.

The main beneficiaries:
• published the news of the project in the web sites of the organizations (CENS, UCD, UNIGE)
• put a link of the project website in their own web-site – www.ecoarm2era.eu
• Published the news of the project in Newspaper “The voice of Armenia” and in CENS magazine.
• Published
o Research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals (Listed in section A)(fig. 13)
o a feature article “A new era for cooperation - ECOARM2ERA project” in the leading global disseminational resource - The International Innovations by Research media Ltd(pages122-125). fig. 14
• designed, prepared or published and distributed some dissemination materials like;
o leaflets (fig. 15)
o EcoArm2ERA Newsletters N1, 2 (fig. 16)
o Posters
o CENS magazine

The project leaflets, newsletters and posters were designed by CENS in 2012/2013. They provide a thorough but simple to understand description of the project’s concept. The leaflet are available in English language. The leaflets and newsletters were distributed at project events, such as workshops, and at other events where consortium members participated (see below). The leaflet was revised in 2014 to include some of the project results and to refresh their design.
• Presented the project in several meetings, scientific conferences, workshops (oral and poster presentation).
o 32nd International Geographical Congress held in Cologne, Germany 26-31 August, 2012.
o International Conference “Informatization and spatial modelling of geographical studies, natural and socio-economical systems” held in Alushta, Crimea, Ukraine 15-20 September 2012, addressed to the NIS countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine.
o International congress on Planning for Resilient Cities and Regions organised in University College Dublin in 15-19 July 2013, Dublin, Ireland
o 8th IAG International Conference on Geomorphology, 27-31 August 2013, Paris, France.
o Infoday on 2014 Calls - HORIZON 2020, SC5: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials held on November 12, 2013, Brussels, Belgium.
o European Geoscience Union General Assembly 27 April – 02 May 2014, Vienna, Austria
o Policy Stakeholders Conference on “EaP STI cooperation in addressing Climate Change” 15-16 May 2014, Yerevan, Armenia
o GEOBIA 2014, 21-24 May, 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece
o GEO XI Plenary 13-14 Nov. 2014, Geneva, Switzerland
o 5th International Conference on cartography and GIS 2014, 15-21 June, 2014, Varna, Bulgaria
o International conference InterCarto-InterGIS20 "Sustainable development of territories: cartography and geoinformational support", 23-24 July, 2014 Belgorod, Russia
o 1st International GlobalSoilMap Conference, Orleans, France, 7-9 October, 2013
o International workshop “Soil Spectroscopy: the present and future of Soil Monitoring” 4 - 6 December 2013, Rome, Italy

All materials were disseminated through project web-site - http://www.ecoarm2era.eu/ and other social networks:
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4940898
https://www.facebook.com/Ecoarm2era


EcoArm2ERA’s DISSEMINATION EVENTS

During Project lifetime several dissemination events were organised presenting temporary results of the project:
• International workshop “Environmental data sharing: adopting international standards to benefit the Armenian scientific community” held in Yerevan in 2-3 April, 2013 organized by all the CENS, UNIGE and IIAP at the scope of Swiss-Armenian SNSF SCOPES - "ARPEGEO" project.
• The final meeting/symposium "Environmental data sharing for the benefits of the South Caucasus region" of ARPEGEO project held in Yerevan in 22-23 May, 2013. The event was organized jointly by CENS, UNIGE.
These two events were an evidence of the synergy of EcoArm2ERA and ARPEGEO and which spotlighted start and successful being of the research partnership between CENS and UNIGE and will be continued indeed. CENS hosted the delegates from the different regions of the world (Caucasus, Balkan and Baltic region countries) and global initiatives like Group of Earth Observation, NOAA and OGC (fig. 17, 18). Among the issues considered during the meeting we must highlight the issue of Armenia's integration into GEO/GEOSS initiative and the associate membership to the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). The vision is to fill the gaps of compatibility of the skills, information and knowledge of Armenian environmental research community by applying the international standards, transferring knowledge, exchanging the experience with our foreign colleagues.

EcoArm2ERA’s FINAL MEETING
The final meeting was consisted of two sessions: Plenary session/project symposium”Towards Armenia’s integration into the European Research Area: Challenges, opportunities and achievements" and International workshop "Armenian environmental SDI - benefits for sustainable development" held 30 Sept – 1 Oct., 2014 in Yerevan. CENS hosted the delegates from the different regions of the world (Caucasus, Russia Eastern and Western Europe) and global initiatives like OGC. A field tour "Southern ARMENIA: heritage conservation and spatial planning" was planned to introduce to Armenia’s heritage for further discussions and developing joint research projects on ecosystem restoration.
The main goals of the meetings are (i) to present the opportunities, challenges and main achievements for environmental research that brought to the overall improvement of CENS in recent years, (ii) to showcase the main environmental capacities, visibilities and competitiveness CENS and (iii) to present what has contributed or will contribute significantly to the sustainable inclusion of CENS into the European research area. The workshop was aimed to reveal what has been developed in Armenia in terms of SDI, data sharing principals, geoprocessing of environmental data and working with stakeholders. Special session was planned for young researchers to promote and improve their skills to publish the research papers and present them to the European research community.

List of Websites:
Website
The EcoArm2ERA website can be found at the following link:

http://www.ecoarm2era.eu/

Coordination
The project is co-ordinated by the Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies NAS RA - CENS
Coordinator:
Dr. Shushanik Asmaryan
Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies NAS RA
68, Abovyan, 0025
Yerevan, RA
Phone +374 (0)10 / 572924, Fax +374 (0)10 / 572938
E-Mail: ashuk@ecocentre.am

Project Logo:
List of the Participants with Contact Names

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, DUBLIN – NUID UCD
Dr. Shahumyan Harutyun

UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE – UNIGE
Dr. Nicolas Ray

GIRAF PM Services GmbH
Dr. Girenko Andrey

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