AUA Partners with the United Nations University on Testing Urban Biodiversity Guidelines

The American University of Armenia (AUA) has partnered with the United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) to test guidelines designed to preserve and restore biodiversity in urban areas. AUA will conduct this test through a month-long Summer course in Yerevan.

UNU-IAS has developed urban biodiversity guidelines in cooperation with other international organizations, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity among them. “We are piloting these guidelines in up to 10 cities worldwide to receive constructive feedback. The testing is being done in partnership with universities that are including it in their academic coursework,” says Dr. Jose Antonio Puppim de Oliviera, Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow at UNU-IAS. The results of these pilots will be presented at the City Biodiversity Summit in Hyderabad, India in October 2012.

As part of this multi-city initiative, AUA has organized a summer studio course where young professionals and graduate students worldwide can join to test the urban biodiversity guidelines in Yerevan. The studio will be conducted in English. “We decided to open it up to the general public and not only AUA students,” says Alen Amirkhanian, College of Engineering Lecturer and a lead organizer of the Yerevan pilot testing studio. “People who are highly motivated and have relevant experience can participate,” says Amirkhanian. Participants will receive a certificate from AUA as well as from UNU-IAS. Eligible participants can also accrue academic credit. AUA is a U.S.-accredited institution and its academic credits can be transferred to U.S. colleges and universities.

The studio will be led by the AUA College of Engineering (CoE), AUA Acopian Center for the Environment (ACE), and UrbanLab Yerevan. “CoE brings understanding of green technologies, buildings, built environments, and the information technology that can make it all work better,” explains Amirkhanian. “ACE offers in-depth understanding of indigenous species and their habitats while UrbanLab Yerevan brings architectural and urban planning expertise specific to Yerevan,” says Amirkhanian. Lecturers from the UNU-IAS and other international experts will also participate in the course via teleconferencing.

The Caucasus is considered one of the biodiversity hotspots worldwide. Armenia alone hosts more than 26,000 species of animals, plants and fungi, 432 of which are unique to the country. “This biodiversity has been under threat mostly due to lack of understanding or neglect of the environmental impact of economic development,” explains Dr. Karen Aghababyan, Director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment. Worldwide human impact on biodiversity is immense. This loss has critical, negative consequences for the planetary as well as human health. 

Yerevan will be one of the several pilot cities that include Yokohama (Japan), Curitiba (Brazil), Lugo (Spain), Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Bhopal (India), Bejaia (Algeria), and Dodoma (Tanzania).

For more information or to register, contact Alen Amirkhanian at the AUA College of Engineering, [email protected].

The American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, nonsectarian, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia.  Founded in 1991, AUA is affiliated with the University of California.  Through teaching, research, and public service, AUA serves Armenia and the region by supplying high-quality education in seven different major fields, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting democratic values.
The American University of Armenia is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 985 Atlantic Avenue, #100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510-748-9001.