Research Partner Dar Si Hmad wins UNFCCC Award

Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is a local non-governmental organisation using innovative technologies to promote sustainable livelihoods in Southwest Morocco. PhD researcher Becca Farnum partners with Dar Si Hmad as part of her doctoral research on environmental peacebuilding, exploring how the group uses a pioneering fog-harvesting project to cultivate intercultural exchange through their Ethnographic Field School.

Dar Si Hmad operates fog nets in the cloudy desert of MoroccoThis week, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change announced the winners of their Momentum for Change Award. From their press release:

Thirteen game-changing initiatives from around the world were announced today as winners of the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change climate change award.

Winning activities include:

  • A Google-led project that could catalyse the rooftop solar market for millions of people across the United States
  • An ingenious net that harvests fog from the air to provide drinking water for people on the edge of Morocco’s Sahara Desert
  • North America’s first revenue-neutral tax that puts a price on carbon pollution
  • A project that has established the first women-specific standard to measure and monetize women’s empowerment benefits of climate action

Other winners include the EU’s largest crowdfunding platform for community solar projects and a project in Malaysia initiated by Ericsson that uses sensors to provide near real-time information to restore dwindling mangrove plantations.

Further winners are a company that provides solar systems to homes and businesses in rural Tanzania through an innovative financial package and a Swedish city that became the first in the world to issue green bonds, enabling it to borrow money for investments that benefit the environment.

The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change. Today’s announcement is part of wider efforts to mobilize action and ambition as national governments work toward implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities underline how climate action and sustainable development is building at all levels of society from country-wide initiatives to ones in communities, by companies and within cities world-wide,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said. “By showcasing these remarkable examples of creativity and transformational change, along with the extraordinary people behind them, we can inspire everyone to be an accelerator towards the kind of future we all want and need.”

Each of the 13 winning activities touches on one of Momentum for Change’s three focus areas: Women for Results, Financing for Climate Friendly Investment and ICT Solutions. All 13 will be showcased at a series of special events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco (7 November to 18 November 2016).

The 2016 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative, which operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum Global Project on Climate Change and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.

PhD researcher Becca Farnum celebrates with women in Dar Si Hmad's fog villages

Behaviour Change Workshop with WaterWise

On 12 September 2016, King’s Water and water efficiency NGO Waterwise jointly ran a workshop on behaviour change and its potential for use in the UK water sector. The aims of the workshop were:

  • To present the findings of Hazel Lewis’s recent MSc Water: Science and Governance dissertation research on the perceived barriers to the use of behaviour change techniques to participants and other interested parties
  • To provoke discussion on the potential for behaviour change in the UK water sector
  • To provide a complete discussion of both the challenges and solutions of behaviour change for the UK water sector

 

Seminar attendees and panel at the WaterWise workshop Continue reading

Upcoming Seminar: Just adding water?

King’s Water is pleased to host Stefanie Schulte, Policy Manager at the New South Wales Irrigators’ Council, on Tuesday 18 October 2016.

Stefanie will share insights from a case in Australia. “Just adding water? The Water Act, sustainable diversion limits and environmental health in the Murray-Darling Basin” will be held in the War Studies Meeting Room on the 6th Floor of the King’s Building on the Strand Campus. Join King’s Water from 4:30pm for a presentation from Stefanie followed by open discussion and a drinks reception.

An aerial photograph of the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia

photo by Michael Storer

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King’s Water members publish with New Security Beat

Naho Mirumachi, Nathanial Matthews, and Becca Farnum recently published a blog piece in New Security Beat reflecting on their article published with colleagues of the London Water Resarch Group.

See the original post: https://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2016/09/major-water-disputes-war-peace/

 

Early this June, the Israeli government cut off drinking water to people living in the Salfit region of the West Bank and three villages east of Nablus. The consequences have been dire. Thousands of Palestinians have been left with no running water in their homes, and factories have been forced to shutter. The power imbalance that leaves Palestinians so vulnerable to Israeli turns of the valve plays out every year, made possible by Israel’s occupation of the water-rich Golan Heights in 1967. What is perhaps most surprising is that the situation persists.

In a recent paper published in International Environmental Agreements, my co-authors and I argue that such a state of affairs – neither open conflict nor full cooperation – characterizes many important shared basins around the world and is often overlooked by those looking to categorize a relationship as either conflictual or not.

The question analysts must answer is not whether there will be water wars, but how water conflicts can be so static and quiet, and yet so damaging. How have countries like Egypt, Turkey, and Israel held control over shared water for so long? As part of a series considering interstate power over water resources, our paper and others build on a 2006 piece introducing the concept of “hydro-hegemony,” the extensive control that some actors hold over water through a variety of forms of power.

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PhD Studentship available with King’s Water member Bruce Malamud

A 3-year fully funded research studentship funded through EDF Energy is currently open for applications. The positions is based at King’s College London at the Department of Geography and will be academically supervised by Prof Bruce D. Malamud (KCL) and industrially co-supervised by Dr. Pietro Bernardara (EDF Energy R&D UK Centre).

Many world regions are at risk from different kinds of natural hazards (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, extreme temperatures, floods) occurring spatially and temporally in close proximity. The industrial sector is increasingly interested in a “multi-hazards” with respect to better designing infrastructure, not just the potential impacts of a single hazard, but a combination of multiple hazards, and how industry can incorporate ideas of multi-hazards into their risk assessments and designs. However, multi-hazard research is a relatively young, multi-scale and multi-disciplinary field of study. Researchers working on multi-hazard include statisticians, social scientists or engineers. Current studies on multi-hazards can be conducted at multiple scales ranging from country to region down to site specific (e.g., a single building). The result has been “multi-hazard” research using different methods, approaches and even vocabulary, with no “standard approach”. Here, this PhD aims to address one part of multi-hazard research by creating and using probabilistic models of multi-hazard events.

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Human Geography Seminar Series for Autumn 2016

The King’s College London Department of Geography is pleased to announce its Human Geography Seminar Series: New Frontiers in Research and Policy for Autumn 2016.

The Series brings together the interests and expertise of the Contested Development, Risk and Society, Spatial Politics, and Urban Futures Research Domains and the King’s Climate and King’s Water Activity Hubs to explore new frontiers in research and policy on human-environment interactions. A number of the seminars are thus water-themed, and all should be of interest to those concerned with sustainability, environmental policy, and cultural spaces.

Seminars will be held on Wednesdays from 4:30-6pm in the Pyramid Room (K4U.04) of the Strand Building, King’s College London. A drinks reception will follow. All events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. We hope to see you there! Continue reading

Revealing the polluted legacy of Britain’s mining heritage

This post was written by King’s Water Member and Teaching Fellow Dr Daniel Schillereff to reflect on a recent paper, “Quantifying system disturbance and recovery from historical mining-derived metal contamination at Brotherswater, northwest England”. The journal article was made Open Access through the agreement between King’s College London and Springer and thus is freely available online.

 

If you’ve ever been on a hike in the Lake District, the Pennines, or Cornwall, you’ve probably walked past evidence of historical mining. Ruined infrastructure, spoil heaps spread across hillslopes, and some adits and levels can be explored today. Britain has a long mining legacy, with firm evidence of widespread mineral extraction during the Roman era and a few even older sites. But along with cool history and climbing, the potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems of metals released during mining and smelting can also be seen. Harmful effects have been amplified by the fact that early processing techniques could extract only a limited percentage of the metal ore, leaving much behind to enter into waterways.

This form of mining waste falls under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), which has led to a growing national impetus to assess and address the extent of aquatic pollution from mining. However, the Water Framework Directive requires reference conditions to be set (i.e., what is the natural level of trace metals in a system, without or pre-human intervention) and contemporary assessments do not offer a long-term perspective. Whether contamination during peak mining (generally the late-19th century) was more acute is also uncertain, given limited data. Nor can much be said about the trajectory towards recovery since mining ceased, which occurred in the 1930s and 40s at most mines. Our recent study set out to use sediment cores and mining records to begin exploring these issues.

Figure 1. The view west across the floodplain of Brotherswater. Mining infrastructure and exposed spoil heaps are visible on the hillslopes.

Figure 1. The view west across the floodplain of Brotherswater. Mining infrastructure and exposed spoil heaps are visible on the hillslopes.

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PhD student publishes on Chilean drought

Research student Roxana Borquez has co-authored a paper in Sustainability exploring resilience to drought in Chile. “Unpacking Resilience for Adaptation: Incorporating Practitioners’ Experiences through a Transdisciplinary Approach to the Case of Drought in Chile” is freely available online: http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/8/9/905.

Current debate on the implementation of resilience in addressing climatic impacts calls for more pragmatic means of reducing losses. In this study we aimed to generate context-specific knowledge about resilience factors for addressing the impacts of drought, with the expectation that bringing forth experiential knowledge on how impacts were addressed in the past would shed light on what constitutes key resilience factors for practitioners working in urban contexts. The study was carried in three of the largest cities in Chile: Santiago, Concepción, and Valdivia. The analytical framework consists of urban and regional resilience incorporating transdisciplinary approaches applying the Resilience-Wheel tool, combined with participatory methods for the co-production of knowledge and qualitative content analysis of documents and workshops. Results show that key determinants of building resilience to drought were: improving education and access to information, enhancing preparedness, promoting technology transfer, reinforcing organizational linkages and collaboration, decentralizing governance, and encouraging citizen participation. The Resilience-Wheel was useful for navigating the conceptual complexity and diversity of perspectives inherent among social actors. The transdisciplinary approach allowed us to co-produce key knowledge that can be applied to build resilience in future, through a bottom-up approach that bridges the science–policy interface.

 

 

Global River Basin Connections with PLuSAlliance

King’s Water lead Naho Mirumachi and member Daanish Mustafa are in Arizona this week joining with colleagues from Arizona State University and the University of New South Wales as part of a new initiative on river basin management.

The PLuS (Phoenix-London-Sydney) Alliance creates, enables and deploys innovative research and education linkages across three globally-focused universities to contribute to a sustainable future by collaborating in the areas of sustainability, global health, social justice, technology and innovation.

Flyer containing details on the PLuS Alliance river symposiumRiver basins are complex systems that are inherently connected through
biophysical and social processes, providing an array of ecosystem services.
Much of humanity’s freshwater resources are taken from river basins to supply
urban communities, industry, and agriculture. Managing risks to these basins,
in an era of global climate change, is widely considered to be among the
greatest development challenges facing humanity in the Anthropocene.
This symposium, sponsored by the PLuS (Phoenix-London-Sydney) Alliance,
features a mix of research presentations and collaborative discussions on the
science and policy of global river basin management. Participants will develop
strategies for moving from knowledge to action to enhance the sustainability
and security of global river basins.

Join Naho and Daanish this Tuesday 13 September from 2:30-6:30pm in Arizona to explore these issues and learn more about the initiative.