By Dr Nidhi Nagabhatla, UNU-INWEH
Commemorating ‘International Mother Earth Day’, reiterates the mutuality that exists among humans, other species and the various components of Nature and Earth. It is also a reminder that the Earth and its Ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance. The UN General Assembly broadcasted its eighth Interactive Dialogue– highlighting the ethical and legal obligations to protect Earth, the significance of the individual, and societal responsibilities towards the enhancement of the human-nature relationships (more details available at http://www.harmonywithnatureun.org/dialogues). At UNU-INWEH, we organised a ‘Mini-Workshop’ on 24 April, 2018 under the ‘Water and Climate Dialogue Series’ – a joint initiative by UNU-INWEH and the School of Geography & Earth Sciences (SGES), McMaster Centre for Climate Change – McMaster University, Canada to discuss, deliberate and exchange research, ideas, and perspectives for a water secure and sustainable world. More than 20 participants including invited experts from China and Pakistan, young professionals and staff of McMaster University and staff members at UNU-INWEH, engaged in an interactive discussion around three focus areas- multilateral governance platforms and agencies, web-based tool and smart solutions for better water and climate management and the water-urbanization nexus.
The three presentations provided a good foundation and context for the interactive session. The first talk by Prof Jiejin Zhu, Fudan University, Shanghai, China entitled ’Comparison of BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)- including avenues for sustainability’, deliberated the role of emerging countries, including China, India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa in mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development. The talk further illustrated on two institutional innovations – NDB and AIIB, while explaining how processes and protocols of multilateralism drives the evolution and reforms in the global governance architecture.
The second talk by Prof. Farrukh Chishtie, SERVIR-Mekong [an USAID/NASA project] explained water-related web applications for a surface water mapping tool, regional drought and crop yield information systems, satellite radar-derived virtual rain and stream gauge data service, reservoir mapping tool and historical flood analysis tools, while providing an overview of how such smart tools can address research-policy gaps and needs. He provided specific examples from the Mekong region States-Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar- emphasising how service planning toolkits are designed for place-based needs and socio-economic complexity. The presentation also emphasized on building capacity of ground stakeholders to ensure wider uptake and long-term sustainability of technical solutions. The need for engaging the private sector while developing such applications was stated to be of critical importance.
The ‘Water and Climate Dialogue’ series observes the vision of gender and youth-inclusive discussions. The third speaker, Ms. Leia Jones, an undergrad of McGill University, Montreal and Embedded Learning Experience (ELE) scholar, UNU-INWEH presented on ‘Water Threats to Cities: Exploring Risks and Developing Indicators to Assess Vulnerability’. She exemplified how the worlds major urban centers are located near big rivers or river basins; that makes them susceptible to a variety of water-related threats, such as floods and droughts. She further explained the relevance of realizing the ‘risks’, mapping vulnerability, analyzing various threats by employing an indicator approach which can add value towards designing innovative mitigation and adaptation options.
The workshop facilitated scholarly exchange through dialogue, while providing for a platform to align viewpoints and for sharing information. It also provided a motivation to understand the complexity of various dimensions and processes that apply in the water and sustainability context.