U21 Early Career Workshop Collaboration Springs Water Management Article

U21’s Early Career Workshop held at Lund University last November saw a wide range of researchers come together from different disciplines, and different countries across the globe to discuss ‘Water and Society’.  The result was the publication of 'Water Management Worldwide is failing, it's time for a new approach'.

Jill Robbie, Anna Kosovac, Ben Henley
Dr Anna Kosovac, Dr Jill Robbie & Dr Ben Henley

The Workshop took on some of the most significant challenges facing the world, such as how we can ensure the safe and reliable supply and treatment of water in the face of growing populations, climate variability and change.

Dr Jill Robbie, University of Glasgow (Lecturer in Private Law); Dr Benjamin Henley (Climate and Water Scientist) and Dr Anna Kosovac (Research Fellow in Water Policy within Water), University of Melbourne met at the workshop.  They were determined to produce an interdisciplinary publication that captured some of the challenges which were discussed at the event and have now published ‘Water Management Worldwide is failing, it’s time for a new approach’ on ‘Pursuit’, the University of Melbourne’s online platform which showcases ground-breaking research.

The United Nations recently announced that progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 (access to clean water and sanitation for all before 2030) is worryingly off-track.  Climate extremes are not going away during the pandemic, testing water management to its limits. Robust inter-disciplinary solutions are needed from climate and social scientists, engineers and lawyers.

Dr Robbie says, ‘Due to the multifarious problems facing the water sector interdisciplinary engagement is urgently needed. The need for collaboration between disciplines is the essence of the publication we have worked together to produce.’ 

Dr Kosovac agrees, ‘Water itself requires technical, social and legal solutions and this is something that I came to realise increasingly throughout the workshop. No single discipline will be able to solve the challenges of water scarcity and climate change. We all tend to be siloed within faculties and it can be difficult to be exposed to other perspectives of the same problems. This workshop created a great bridge between these silos, through a common link: water.’ 

ECRs Lund 2019
ECRs Meeting at Lund University 2019

Dr Henley added, ‘I enjoyed having my own thinking challenged through being exposed to other disciplines and their research questions, methods and communication styles. I particularly enjoyed the nuanced and detailed discussions around how challenging interdisciplinary research can be.’

Dr Connie Wan, Researcher Engagement Manager for U21 said, ‘It is fantastic to see U21 research collaboration start to make a difference to some of the most important challenges that we face today.  I am delighted that the network has been able to bring like-minded academics together in this interdisciplinary way which will really deliver the solutions that the world needs.’

Dr Henley adds "I left feeling convinced that we Early Career Researchers can, and must, actively drive the research culture of the future." 

Dr Robbie concludes, "I am very grateful for the opportunity to have met Ben and Anna through this U21 event. Working with them has opened my eyes to the perspectives of their different disciplines and emphasised how important it is that we have an on-going dialogue about solutions to global problems.” 

R Edwards