Political Economy Analysis of Armenia’s Water Sector

The USAID Armenia Improved Water Management for Sustainable Economic Growth Program (IWM) is implemented by Deloitte Consulting LLP. The Program aims to improve Armenia’s approach to water management by focusing on the equity of access to water while maintaining environmental flow and water quality for the protection of freshwater resources.

The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment was recruited to conduct a Political Economy Analysis (PEA) of the water sector in Armenia, identifying foundational factors, rules of the game, the here and now, and dynamics among the three to synthesize implications for the Program. This is intended as a first step in thinking and working politically and as an iterative process to continue beyond the initial assessment.

Armenia’s water-sector PEA will help gain an understanding of the underlying reasons why things work the way they do and identify the incentives and constraints impacting the behavior of actors in a relevant system. By helping identify these influences—political, economic, social, and cultural—PEA supports a more politically informed approach to working.


New undergrad degree at AUA: Bachelor in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

The AUA Akian College of Science and Engineering is offering a new undergraduate degree program starting fall 2023.

The four-year undergraduate Bachelors of Science (BS) program in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to understand and address sustainability challenges facing the natural and human-made environments.

The program will enable students to analyze human impacts on the planet’s climate system, biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, water resources, land systems, and more. In addition, it will enable students to focus on sustainability of urban environments, including urban alignment with nature, mobility and energy solutions, air quality, use and disposal of water, waste and circular economy, disaster resilience, and more.

The program will equip students with knowledge and tools to work in multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural settings to begin addressing these challenges at the local, national, cross-border, and global levels.

For more information watch the program video below and visit the degree program’s webpage at the AUA Akian College of Science and Engineering website for details on the program and how to apply.

What we can do to prevent algal blooms in Lake Sevan?

Dr. Garabet Kazanjian, AUA Acopian Center for the Environment fresh water ecologist, explains the causes for Lake Sevan’s algal blooms and what we can do about it. For more on AUA Acopian Center’s work on water-related issues, visit ace.aua.am/function-areas/water/.

Video on wild plant harvest in Armenia

Wild Plant Harvest in Armenia features five individuals who harvest wild plants sustainably, promoting economic well-being while ensuring biodiversity protection and advancing cultural preservation and innovation.

The five heroes and their stories are:

1. Gnel Nazanyan, who, inspired by the healing powers of wild plants, founded Darman (meaning cure), a natural tea collection and production company that is now exporting to many countries

2. Nazik Hovhannisyan, who collects wild edible plants and uses them the whole year-round to offer good nutrition to her family

3. Satenik Khachatryan, who, with the help of her sister Azatuhi, teaches children to recognize wild plants through new educational methods at their summer agricultural camps

4. Nune Sarukhanyan, who encourages rural communities to transition away from large-scale wild harvest and move toward cultivation

5. Ani Harutyunyan, who explores traditional wild plants in a new light in her experimental kitchen–Arm Food Lab

The film is produced by the American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian for the Environment as part of its GATES project, a collaborative 4-year project (2018-2021) between the Center and the University of Hohenheim (UHOH) supported by DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service, with funds from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).



EU-funded 17 Million Euro ILIAD Project Launched

On February 1, 2022, a consortium of 56 international partners, which includes the American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment, kicked off the €17 million ILIAD project funded by the European Union (EU). The consortium partners are from 18 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

ILIAD will develop and launch a Digital Twin of the Ocean (DTO) that will provide highly accurate predictions of future developments at global seas. The virtual representations of the sea will integrate and extend existing EU earth observing, modeling digital infrastructures and computing facilities to provide highly accurate predictions of future developments.

ILIAD has been awarded the funding as part of the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the umbrella of the €1 billion European Green Deal.

The AUA Acopian Center, hosting the project at AUA, is one of the key partners, leading the policy impact component as well as participating in citizen science, capacity building, and the educational activities of the project. AUA’s Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) will support the business development and entrepreneurship modules, while the AUA Open Center for Artificial Intelligence Solutions will contribute to data analytics and modeling, as well as machine learning components of the project.

ILIAD will develop virtual models designed to accurately reflect changes and processes accruing at the ocean. ILIAD will commercialize an interoperable, data-intensive, and cost-effective model, capitalizing on the explosion of new data provided by many different earth sources, modern computing infrastructure, including the Internet of Things, social networking, Big Data, cloud computing and more.

“ILIAD takes on complex, global challenges and brings together expertise from multiple disciplines from around the world to address them,” says Alen Amirkhanian, director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment. “The AUA Acopian Center will lead the ILIAD global team on using the technologies developed to advance environmental and sustainability policy goals. We will also be involved in citizen science, capacity building, and educational parts of the project. Importantly, the Center brings a multidisciplinary team of AUA researchers and experts from EPIC and Center for Artificial Intelligence Solutions to work on the technical and business challenges.”

The ILIAD consortium will combine high-resolution modeling with real-time sensing of ocean parameters, advanced algorithms for forecasting of spatio-temporal events and pattern recognition. The virtual representations will consist of several real-time to near-real-time digital replicas of the ocean.

ILIAD will also create a marketplace to distribute apps, plug-ins, interfaces, raw data, citizen science data, synthesized information, and value-added services in combination with the ILIAD DTO. The project partners include industrial companies, end users, academic institutions, research and technology developers and private firms.

“The development of innovative methods in open frameworks and platforms is needed to enable meaningful and informative model evaluations and comparisons for many large Earth science applications from weather to climate,” said Bente Lilja Bye, CEO of BLB and the scientific manager of ILIAD.  “The ambitious ILIAD project aims to build on the assets resulting from two decades of investments in policies and infrastructures for the blue economy to contribute towards a sustainable ocean economy.”

“Our aim is to assemble as broad and as diverse as possible, a user community of existing and new users, who will use the project’s innovative technological solutions to address future challenges,” said Professor Georgios Sylaios from the Democritus University of Thrace, who is the operational manager of ILIAD. “By combining a large amount of diverse data in a semantically rich, and a data-agnostic approach that allows simultaneous communication with real-world systems and models, we will enable researchers to develop what-if scenarios and analyze the impact of measures to prevent and adapt to climate change.”

For more information https://ocean-twin.eu/

News coverage: https://newsroom.aua.am/2022/02/01/eu-awards-17-million-euros-iliad-project-digital-twin-of-the-ocean/

Companion videos to Field Guide to Birds of Armenia

The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment has produced a series of 6 videos as a companion to the Field Guide to Birds of Armenia published by AUA Acopian Center for the Environment and Birds of Armenia.

The videos offer general information about birds worldwide and particularly in Armenia. Beginners will learn how to use the Field Guidebook to identify birds. They will also learn about main issues related to bird habitats, migration, and threats.

The videos is in Armenian with English subtitles. Each video is followed by a bilingual quiz.



Video 1. Introduction to the world of birds

This video will provide basic information about birds, their main characteristics. It will tell what is needed to start watching birds and will describe the structure of “A Field Guide to Birds of Armenia.” What is a bird? Number of species globally and in Armenia? Differences between non-migratory and migratory birds?

Video 2. What is needed for birdwatching

How to watch birds? What is needed for birdwatching? What is the structure of the Field Guide?

Video 3. Identifying birds: Morphology & Behavior

This video explains identifying birds using size, shape, plumage, behavior, and vocals/sounds. Ample examples are provided.

Video 4. Bird Habitats

This video explains what is habitat for birds and why it is important in bird identification. The main habitat types in Armenia are presented.

Video 5. Migration of Birds

This video gives an overview of bird migration, its causes and types. The importance of range maps, based on migration patters, are explained.

Video 6. Bird Species in Need of Protection

This video discusses bird species in need of protection. It presents the four groups that the birds are categorized into based on their abundance, population status, distribution, existing threats and other criteria [when the book was first published; though there is a translation of these categories to current accepted terms is offered?]. The video also discusses IUCN’s Red Lists of endangered species and efforts to protect them.

Listen to Gabrielian’s Provocative Talk on Environmental Futures

Working across scales, from environmental design to biological materials, Dr. Aroussiak Gabrielian, practicing designer and faculty within the Schools of Architecture and Cinema at the University of Southern California (USC), shares the climate focused work that she and her team of design-research students are advancing in the Landscape Futures Lab at USC, along with other noteworthy examples from the field at large. With the current state of crisis of the biophysical world around us, Dr. Gabrielian’s talk will address how to implement design and material innovation toward more regenerative and resilient futures.

More on her and the talk visit here: http://ace.aua.am/talk_seminars/environmental-futures/