Marking a decade and then some: Developments in transboundary water analysis

King’s Water has been an active partner of the London Water Research Group and over the years hosted numerous workshops and events. The London Water Research Group is a vibrant network of 100+ international water professionals, activists and scholars from over 10 countries dedicated to understanding and influencing transboundary water management, politics and policy. Spanning across multiple disciplines, the group has published key articles on the deeply political nature of water cooperation, governance, water security and the political economy of water use. From King’s Water, master’s, PhD students, researchers now in academic positions and professionals have been involved in the development of this international network.

Now the London Water Research Groups marks a milestone with members publishing a capstone paper “Transboundary ‘hydro-hegemony’: 10 years later” in the journal WIREs Water. The paper traces the establishment and progress of transboundary water analysis of the group, now often known as the ‘London School’, and discusses future directions for scholarship. Authors of the paper are: Jeroen Warner (Wageningen University); Naho Mirumachi (King’s Water, KCL); Rebecca L. Farnum (King’s Water, KCL); Mattia Grandi (Independent Researcher); Filippo Menga (University of Reading; former visiting student to King’s); Mark Zeitoun (University of East Anglia).

Previous publications of the London Water Research Group can be found here. Requests of copies of the paper in WIREs Water are welcome to Naho Mirumachi as well.

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Seeing water science and policy come together: Beth reflects on her trip to the Okavango

My name is Beth and I’m a MSc Water: Science and Governance student at the Department of Geography, King’s College London. I have just returned from an interdisciplinary fieldtrip to the Okavango Delta, Botswana, in partnership with the PLuS Alliance, which gave us the chance to work in collaboration with students and staff from UNSW Sydney and Arizona State University. I got to experience ‘the science’ part of environmental management in a different country’s context; conducting aquatic, riparian and terrestrial-based ecological surveys, collecting water quality data and learning a lot from the Australian students’ various ecology and biology backgrounds.

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The most enjoyable part of the trip for me, besides the stunning safari drives and elephants, was ‘the governance’ aspect of the trip. We held a debate over the opportunities and challenges of managing the Okavango river basin from the perspective of each basin state, after lectures from UNSW’s Dr Richard Kingsford about adaptive management and King’s Dr Naho Mirumachi on the role of power in transboundary governance. It was rewarding to hear the themes we had discussed then reflected in a guest talk from Dr Ebenizário Chonguiça from the Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM).

Throughout the trip, our group were introduced to many stakeholders in the river basin. I’m now in the process of developing a podcast of conversations with the members of Botswana Predator Conservation Trust and Elephants Without Borders, to a former farmer, member of the Kalahari Conservation Society and past Permanent Secretary of the Botswanan Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. It was great to learn about the river basin in situ, to get an insight into the effects of human development on the valuable wetland ecosystem, how these views of development are contested, and how we use science to monitor the effects. It has helped me to explore ideas for my dissertation next term, such as exploring the trade-offs between maintaining a free-flowing river system and seeking transboundary cooperation to share-benefits from the basin’s development.

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This research trip comes after another water-orientated experience where I worked with WWF-UK as their Freshwater Science and Policy intern for three months at the start of 2017. The internship really appealed to me as a parallel to the science and governance elements of my course at Kings. It gave me a working insight into how an international organisation uses fieldwork, research and multidisciplinary expertise to become a knowledge producer and leading authority on environmental issues, and go on to empower communities and influence policy makers. I assisted in researching for, and drafting a primer on water infrastructure, and gave a talk on the impact of dams in front of many delegates from other national and international organisations.

All these experiences in my first year as a part-time student at King’s have given me real insight into many current water issues and how these can be tackled in a future career in water. After working alongside world class water experts and academics, seeing science and policy come together whilst working at WWF-UK or seeing it in the field in Botswana, it has been inspiring. I hope to go on to work in a research or policy role that makes a difference on the ground to people and the environment, wherever in the world that may take me.

Student Profile: Mari Joins Okavango Field Project

Following the previous post on the Okavango field project, we’re introducing Mari, one of our mix of BA, BSc, MSc students joining the trip. We’ll be featuring more stories from student and from the field so keep checking on our blog as well as twitter @ KingsWaterKCL !

” I am a final year BA geography student from West Wales graduating this July. I have spent the majority of my three years at King’s trying to find a balance between the human and physical disciplines of the subject. My interests lie in the meeting point of social-political dynamics and the physical conditions they are situated within. I have particularly enjoyed the various political ecology and related modules available at King’s to further this interest.

Throughout my three years here I have found a real passion for research, particularly in the developing country context. Previous studies I have been involved in have included fieldwork in Kerala, India in the second year; as well as a self organised Royal Geographical Society part-funded research trip to Napo in Ecuador to collect dissertation data. These experiences of international research have provided me with valuable experiences of research and other cultures.

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My trip to the Okavango is funded by the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (KURF) under the guidance of Dr. Naho Mirumachi.  It presents a final opportunity to get involved in an interdisciplinary study at King’s and hope to further my research experience with fieldwork in Okavango, Botswana.

I hope to better understand the dynamics of the river delta, including the socio-political structures that influence the river itself as well as development in the region. I also hope to benefit from working within an academic team, as well as in collaboration with students and lecturers from other universities across the world (Australia and the US) within the PLuSAlliance. Hopefully this fieldwork will result in the creation of a new truly interdisciplinary module for future students at King’s – something that I believe is vital to our subject. “

Setting off: Okavango field project for interdisciplinary learning

This month, King’s Water staff and students will travel to the Okavango delta in Botswana for an interdisciplinary project on river sustainability.  As part of the Global River Basins Connections project funded by the PLuS Alliance, a network between Kings, Univ of New South Wales and Arizona State Univ, this trip aims to enhance experiential learning on key issues of river basin management, water cooperation and conflict and human-ecosystem dependence.

The Okavango delta is a significant biodiversity hotspot as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The management of the river requires international cooperation with the river being shared between Botswana, Namibia and Angola.  This basin has also recently experienced drought, making the question of sustainability even more pressing.

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Students from the three universities will working together to practise various field sampling, survey skills and monitoring methods to understand the river and terrestrial environment as well as enhance their knowledge of river basin governance, development and geopolitics in this  transboundary setting.

From King’s Water, Dr Mike Chadwick, Dr Naho Mirumachi and Dr Emma Tebbs coordinates this trip to pilot an interdisciplinary fieldwork module for the Geography Department.  Six undergraduate and master’s students from the department have been selected on a competitive basis to join this trip.

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Video summary: King’s Water colleagues speak at St Paul’s Cathedral

Last month, King’s Water co-convened an event on water politics at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.  This event was part of JustWater, a series of activities by St Paul’s Institute to raise awareness about water issues.

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(Photo credit: Graham Lacdao)

From King’s Water, Dr Naho Mirumachi spoke about the socio-economics and political power asymmetries that determine water use rather than the climate or hydrology.  Prof Tony Allan spoke about the critical role of farmers and consumers in ensuring water stewardship when food production is so dependant on managing water well.

The video of the event can be seen here.

 

King’s Water at St Paul’s Cathedral

King’s Water and St Paul’s Institute are hosting an event on water politics at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.

From King’s Water, Dr Naho Mirumachi and Prof Tony Allan will be joining the debate.

This free event will take place 6:30-8:00 pm on Monday 19 June and is open to the general public.  Speakers will discuss the contentions as well as transformative potential of water management and stewardship, touching upon issues of geopolitics, climate, food and more.  This event is part of an initiative, ‘Just Water’ to raise awareness and activism around water.

Register here:

waterpoliticstickets.eventbrite.co.uk

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Spotlight on the MSc Water: Science and Governance programme

 

The MSc Water: Science and Governance programme draws on the university’s leading reputation in water research to equip students with advanced interdisciplinary training to tackle the contemporary challenges of diverse water environments around the world.

Combined with international research excellence in water science, policy and politics, the programme offers a unique learning experience as well as access to a range of professional networks which include government, industry and NGO sectors.  From academic year 2017-18, this programme will also incorporate the former MSc Aquatic Resource Management making it deeply rooted in King’s College London’s long-standing experience and expertise in providing in-depth fundamental and applied training in freshwater and estuarine science and management.

Students benefit from lectures, seminars, lab and field sessions informed by cutting-edge insights from King’s Water research spearheaded by 12 staff.  Key features of the MSc programme include a residential field trip in Shropshire and Wales, guest talks by leading scientists and professionals, weekly research seminars, internships and dissertation placement.  The London location also offers excellent opportunities for professional networking.  This year, students have attended meetings co-hosted by King’s Water and International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage, the British Ecological Society, the Institute for Fisheries Management; started internships with WWF-UK, at Harvard; and will take part in an interdisciplinary field project in the Okavango River basin, Botswana.

Applications for 2017-18 entry can be found here.

 

Students enjoying a meal with MSc Water alumna currently working in the water utility sector

Students enjoying a meal with MSc Water alumna currently working in the water utility sector

 

Exploring Biodiversity of Headwater Streams in Ulu Temburong National Park, Borneo

This summer, a group of KCL students and staff conducted an expedition to Ulu Temburong National Park in Borneo to document novel aquatic habitats and biodiversity using a combination of survey methods and underwater imagery. Ulu Temburong National Park is situated within a biodiversity hotspot with pristine topical climax forest and river ecosystems. It is a priority location for conservation and restoration efforts and a suitable reference site for comparable ecosystems, but limited biogeographical data exists for the region. The Royal Geographical Society’s Ralph Brown Award (2016) funded the expedition, which included Dr. Michael Chadwick, Dr. Daniel Schillereff, Kate Baker, Eleanore Heasley, Arthur Fuest and Rob Francis (expedition home support) along with Universiti Brunei Darussalam PhD student Hanyrol Ahmad Sah. The group spent three weeks surveying riverine physical habitats and associated biodiversity. These efforts will expand current knowledge of biodiversity and biogeography in the region with the collection of species un-described to science. This work is vital for establishing benchmarks needed for both local conservation and regional restoration of degrading rivers in SE Asia.

Many thanks to Universiti Brunei Darussalam for their support and to SonTek for the loan of the River Surveyor M9.

Below is a visual documentation of the trip, with thanks to Hanyrol for the photos!

All hands on deck when sampling macroinvertebrate abundances on waterfalls!

 

Borneo Horn frog in the study stream

 

Measuring velocity cross sections of the Temburong River with the SonTek River surveyor M9.

 

Celebrating the success of exploring the upper reaches of Temburong River

Celebrating the success of exploring the upper reaches of Temburong River

 

Talking about the expedition to Universiti Brunei Darussalam students

Talking about the expedition to Universiti Brunei Darussalam students

 

Night-time frogging! Assessing frog abundance and their diets in our study streams

Night-time frogging! Assessing frog abundance and their diets in our study streams

 

Upcoming Seminar: Development, Policy, and Research

Join King’s Water, Environmental Dynamics, and the Department of Geography for a seminar exploring the relationships between sustainability, international development, global policy, and research.

Will implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) make use of the available science and social science?

Discussion will be led by Dr Mark Mulligan and Visiting Professor Stephen Lintner.

The event will be Wednesday 3 February 2016 from 4:30pm in the Pyramid Room, followed by a wine reception and pub trip.

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Coming up: Seminar on “Water, biography and history”

Join King’s Water and the Department of Geography this Wednesday for an exciting, story-focused Human Geography Research Seminar.

Sarah Dry, independent scholar and science writer, will share recent research from a popular book-in-progress on the past 150 years of scientific studies of water and the global climate. She’ll discuss the lives of scientists such as John Tyndall, Charles Piazzi Smyth and Gilbert Walker in relation to their work on glaciers, water vapour, and monsoons. Full of vivid detail, biography is a compellingly readable form but it is often associated with misleadingly heroic narratives of scientific progress. Is biography suited to telling a nuanced history of evolving global concepts of climate? What might a climate-oriented biography of water look like?

Sarah Dry is an award-winning writer and historian of science.  She is the author of The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts (OUP, 2014), co-editor of Epidemics: Science, Governance and Social Justice (Earthscan, 2010) and Curie: A Life (Haus, 2004).

This event is free and open to the public. Join us in the King’s Geography Pyramid Room, Strand Campus King’s Building Room KU4.12, from 4:30-6pm this Wednesday 14 October 2015.