U.S. National Section Annual Meeting for the Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH)
and the Symposium of the Americas
The U.S. National Section meeting occurred at the Organization of American States office in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2012. In attendance were 19 U.S. representatives from the four commissions and the Secretary General of the PAIGH, Dr. Santiago Borrero, and special guest, Eric Van Praag, from GeoSUR. On the following day, March 22, the U.S. National Section hosted a Symposium of the Americas with a focus on climate change.
U.S. National Section Meeting Opening remarks by the U.S. National Section President, Mark DeMulder included thanking the committee leaders for their input into the excellent USNS PAIGH Annual report and to Patricia Solis for her great support with the PAIGH USNS web page. He also mentioned his excellent meeting last year in Argentina with Hector Peña. Mark informed the US National Section about the possibility of USGS Denver hosting the 2013 USNS PAIGH Conference. He finished his remarks making a petition to all the delegates to think about succession and the importance of bringing in new members. After Mark’s initial remarks, he invited the Secretary General, Santiago Borrero to brief the members on the status of the PAIGH directorship, programs and member nations. Dr. Borrero’s key comments were:
Happy that so many organizations are represented in the USNS.
Mentioned the good track record of project proposals and approvals of the USNS.
The USNS needs to check its balance, in regards to other national sections, of the number of project proposals or as collaborators of projects.The USNS should look for more collaboration with other national sections.
Publicly appreciated the work of PAIGH President, Hector Peña
Through new Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with other international organizations, PAIGH is opening new cooperation and resource channels.
Members of the U.S. National Section provided a few comments to the Secretary General:
Implement an “Institutional Communication Plan” to raise PAIGH’ profile in the Hemisphere and also consider the use of social media to promote the Institute.
At every PAIGH event include a 5-10 minute preamble to present the PAIGH activities and mission
The next item on the agenda was a brief summary of the 2011 U.S. National Section projects:
Brad Coleman briefed on the program in Haiti to scan and save historical records. This program received an additional support of $50k from the US Department of State.
Paul Cooper briefed on a Donor’s Conference formed by PAIGH, IHO, US and Canadian Companies which presented a workshop on September 2011 that generated the first Electronic Bathymetric Chart.
Chris Castro briefed Jorge Bajo’s work on mapping of risk areas due to volcanic activity of the Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador. A deliverable of this project is a new dictionary of localisms. Chris also briefed on an Atmosphere water (vapor) pressure monitoring system through GPS (the vapor attenuates the GPS signal). This technique holds a big future, like forecasting hurricane force winds. He announced a plan for a workshop in the University of Sonora, Hermosillo.
Leslie Armstrong detailed the geographic names course in Honduras and added that Spain’s IGN has on-line courses on different subjects including geographic names.
Jean Parcher mentioned the workshops celebrated in Central America on the creation of a regional geospatial database in support of disaster mitigation and relief and humanitarian assistance. Time was allotted to discuss the possible new projects that the U.S. National Section will submit for the 2013 projects.
Symposium of the Americas
On March 22, the U.S. National Section members, Erick Langer, Jean Parcher, Patricia Solis, and Carmelle Terbough, organized a Symposium of the Americas focusing on Climate Change in Latin America. The topic for the Roundtable discussion was “How Climate Change Affects Us: A Vision from the Pan American Organizations.” The guest speakers included:
- PAIGH - Dr. Santiago Borrero
- OAS - Dr. Cletus Springer
- IICA – David Williams
- IDB – Alfred Grunwaldt
- USAID – Chrinstine Pendzich
- CAF - Eric Van Praag
A major outcome of the Roundtable Discussion was a proposal to convene a Technical Summit for Climate Change in the Americas. Next select presentations from members of the U.S. National Section of PAIGH were made concerning their interdisciplinary work in the region:
- The Search for Sustainability: The Nexus Between Social and Environmental History Dr. Evan Ward (Bringham Young Univ.)
- Central America Participatory Regional Map Initiative: Next Steps for South America Ms. Jean Parcher (U.S. Geological Survey) & Mr. Eric Van Praag (Andean Development Bank)
- Transboundary Integration in Amazonia: Challenges and Opportunities Dr. David Salisbury (Univ. of Richmond)
- Mapping Standardized Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Americas: the GEOSS Approach Dr. Roger Sayre (U.S. Geological Survey)
- Interdisciplinary Research Collaborations: Geography in the Americas Dr. Patricia Solis (Association of American Geographers)
- Developing a GPS-based atmospheric water vapor monitoring capability in northwest Mexico and its implications for improved meteorological and hydrological prediction.
- Dr. Chris Castro (Univ. of Arizona)
The final afternoon consisted of a tour of the Library of Congress Map Archives with a display of historical Latin American maps and special map of South America generated by PAIGH.