Healthy Rivers – healthy economies

Report back from the 18th International RiverSymposium: Healthy Rivers – healthy economies

Jess Schoeman, ILWS PhD Candidate

Jess Schoeman, ILWS PhD Candidate

Author : Jess Schoeman

Charles Vorosmarty succinctly expressed the essence of river management during his keynote address: “connectivity is the name of the game”. This year, the RiverSymposium sought to explore the connection between healthy rivers and healthy economies as an overarching theme.

The central role of rivers in the rise of human civilisations is deeply etched in our history books, yet we’ve generally followed a pattern of ‘wreck and repair’ in river management. Economic development has occurred at the expense of the environment, and restoring degraded rivers has been costly and difficult.

Many speakers at the Conference highlighted how ecosystem functions and services provided by rivers are often taken for granted and unvalued or undervalued in our economic systems. Only when environmental degradation reaches a crisis point, are we forced to invest in river restoration. Read more of this post

Developing an Australian Vision for Water?

ARDC-Max FinlaysonProfessor Max Finlayson was a keynote speaker at the Australian Regional Development Conference held at the Albury Commercial Club on 26 – 28 August 2015.  Here is a short summary of his presentation.

Developing a vision for water entails the establishment of a common view about the future of our landscape, communities and economic activities, and the role that water plays in our lives. Water is critical for human wellbeing and forms important ecosystems that support a diverse array of life. I am confident that most of us believe in having a healthy riverine environment, but do we mean the same thing when we say this? I am pretty sure that we do not – once we get to the details and these entail change or threaten our very livelihood and worldview I am sure we will see very large differences of opinion.

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PhD course of Systems Thinking

Cybersystemic Possibilities for Governing the Anthropocene within the 59th Meeting of the International Society for System Sciences (ISSS) in Berlin, 2015

Author Luisa Perez-Mujica, ILWS PhD Candidate

Workshop in Hanover at the Herrenhausen Castle

Workshop in Hanover at the Herrenhausen Castle

I was very fortunate to be accepted in the PhD course on Systems Thinking and Practice in PhD Research “Cybersystemic Possibilities for Governing the Anthropocene”. This course was organized within the 59th Meeting of the International Society for System Sciences (ISSS) in Germany for which a series of events have been organized. The ISSS is devoted to interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature of complex systems and this year, during its 59th Meeting the topic of discussion was “Governing the Anthropocene: the greatest challenge of systems thinking in practice?” The overarching idea is to discuss in a transdisciplinary manner the issues, opportunities and approaches to address the influences of humans in the environment as well as other social issues and systems within this new epoch in planetary history, the Anthropocene.

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Looking beyond the water

17th International Riversymposium: Looking beyond the water  

Jess Schoeman, ILWS PhD Candidate

Jess Schoeman, ILWS PhD Candidate

During a conversation about river management, a colleague once said to me, ‘if you’re looking at the water, you’ve got your back to the problem’. This message has stuck with me for many years and motivated my decision to cross over to the social sciences for my PhD research. Understanding human nature and our river cultures is essential for diagnosing the source of our water problems, rather than just treating the symptoms.

The over-arching theme of this year’s International Riversymposium, held in Canberra, was ‘large river basin management’, with three case studies: the Murray-Darling Basin, the Rhine River Basin and the Mekong River Basin. A common thread throughout the conference was the portrayal of rivers as complex social-ecological systems. Managing rivers is not just about ecology and hydrology; it is about people: our philosophies, cultures, needs, wants and desires.

This post explores just a few thoughts from the conference:

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