GWI showcased at 21st International Riversymposium

The 21st International Riversymposium was held in Sydney on 14-18 October and attended by 350 delegates from all over Australia and abroad. The focus of the Symposium was ‘Embracing Innovation’.

UNSW’s GWI, in partnership with the PLuS Alliance, was a gold sponsor of the Symposium which afforded the opportunity for UNSW and PLuS Alliance researchers to engage with national and international scientists, engineers, lawyers, economists and government representatives involved in the management of many of the worlds significant national and trans-national rivers.  

The Symposium was also as the occasion to hold the first meeting of  GWI’s International Advisory Committee, chaired by Tom Soo, former director of the world Water Council. The role of IAC is to provide advice on GWI activities and guidance on direction and future opportunities. A key theme that emerged from the deliberations was importance of developing strong process for water governance and security, including the collection, interpretation and use of indicators in decision making. These include indicators on the environmental systems and communities which depend the river basins, particular indicators on equity, inclusion and diversity.

The issue of “Diversity in Water” was discussed on Monday the 15th  in a panel session facilitated by Associate Professor Lucy Marshall, Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity for the UNSW Faculty of Engineering, A paRiversymposium delegates tour the Tomago Wetlandsnel of five discussed various aspects of issues pertaining to diversity in water and called on their personal experiences to share stories, insights and successes. Among the panelists was Prof Richard Kingsford, Director of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science.

One highlight of the Symposium was a session chaired by Richard Mcloughlin of the Department and Agriculture and Water, titled “Mapping of indigenous and cultural values of water and river systems; examples from the Murray Darling and Lake Eyre basins”. This session featured a discussion on the production of the Lake Eyre Basin (Basin) Aboriginal Map. Attendees heard from George Gorringe and George Cooley who were involved in mapping process and described the process of documenting the richness, diversity and vibrancy of Aboriginal cultures through the pictorial overview of the presence and significance of Aboriginal people in the Basin.

The symposium also featured three sequential sessions on ‘Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Implementing the Targets’, The first session coordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade focused on ‘Achieving SDG 6 – Targeting Nexus’; The second session coordinated by CSIRO focused on ‘Water and SDGs interactions – Creating a Positive-sum Game’. While the third session coordinated by GWI and the PLuS Alliance session featured members of the Comparative River Basin research project from Kings College London and Arizona State University, and invited spe

akers included Dr Bill Young of the World Bank, Dr Emma Carmody of the NSW Environment Defenders Office and UNSW PhD student Sylvia Hay. The Comparative River Basin research project is taking multi-disciplinary which is compiling and interpreting data on a suite of environmental, demographic, economic, governance and social activities in 8 major river basins in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. A details of the PLuS research project will be published in 2019.  

Riversymposium concluded on a high note with a full-day study tour of the Tomago Wetlands – an award-winning example of wetland restoration. The tour was hosted by experts from both UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory and the Centre for Ecosystem Science as well as the NSW Office for Environment and Heritage. The tour demonstrated how the Tomago Wetlands site has been transformed from a large acidic landscape into a restored productive tidal wetland, and was a highlight for many conference delegates.

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