Freshwater is critical to life, the environment, and economies, but its sustainable management worldwide is at risk from global change, burgeoning demand and inadequate control of resulting environmental problems. Given the scale and complexity of the challenge, an integrated whole-system approach is needed to reverse current trajectories, restore natural capital, create shared sustainable solutions and safeguard the needs of future generations.
Aims and Objectives
This proposal aimed to develop interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary conversations at Cardiff University (CU) to foster large research endeavours around the question: How can we balance freshwater sustainability with societal prosperity in an uncertain world?
:Half of the team assembled came from outside the traditional NERC community to facilitate novel interdisciplinary collaborations, bringing in new expertise (economists, social scientists, geographers, law scientists, engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians) to tackle a key environmental challenge.
The project, initiated by the Water Research Institute, brought together 22 researchers from 10 different schools with a good array of career levels and good gender balance. A range of new interdisciplinary links were made as a result.
Three types of activities were undertaken: i) Strategic workshops to share insights and to develop key research questions that cut across disciplinary boundaries, ii) Sprint workshops to engage the wider CU community and end users, iii) Focused discipline-hopping sessions to further embed ECRs in a research community outside their own field of research.
To make discussions more concrete, researchers focused on a test catchment where many CU researchers have worked: the Wye and Usk.
Outcomes include: 1) Novel collaborations across schools to enable whole-systems research to tackle key freshwater challenges; 2) Systems thinking input to the NERC community from promising discipline-hopping ECRs at CU. 3) Development of three areas of complementary, co-designed research: i) complex interactions between human resource needs and freshwater ecosystems; ii) tools and approaches to diagnose and monitor freshwaters; and iii) whole-system interventions and shared solutions through better decision-making tools. These may be developed as stand-alone research grants or combined to form larger grants.
Further Information and Publications
1st January 2022
31st March 2022
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – UKRI