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USC research to be shown at Royal Society

University of the Sunshine Coast researchers will follow in the footsteps of scientific giants during a presentation at the world’s oldest academic society today (Wednesday 16 September).

A team of USC academics have contributed to a collaborative research project on water governance that will be featured in video format at a symposium at London’s Royal Society, widely considered the world’s most prestigious scientific association.

The Royal Society has counted scientists such as Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein among its Fellows and was the place where Charles Darwin first presented his theory of evolution.

USC Professor of Sustainability Tim Smith said USC played a senior research role in the Climate Adaption and Water Governance (CADWAGO) Project, an international consortium that assessed ways to improve Europe’s water governance systems.

Other consortium members are Canada’s Brock University, the University of Winnipeg, Griffith University, the University of Tasmania, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, United States.

Professor Smith and his USC colleagues, Dr Dana Thomsen and Dr Maria Melo, were part of an international working group that focussed on how organisations respond to various water dilemmas such as disasters.

“One of our findings was that water was being defined and thought of simply as a commodity and, because of this, we have quite a narrow conception of the value of water,” he said.

“We also looked at responses to floods, including the 2011 Queensland floods, and we found that institutions that have the capacity to adapt quickly are more likely to have an effective disaster response.

“These kind of adaptive models are new, but as we enter a time of more frequent extreme climactic events, we’re going to need our institutions to be adaptive and innovative.”

The Royal Society event (to be held at 8pm AEST) will have an audience of senior European policy makers and academics and will feature a presentation from the Head of the OECD Water Governance Programme.

Professor Smith, who works with USC's Sustainability Research Centre, said the prestigious setting of the symposium was a reflection of the growing need for research into water governance and climate change adaptation.

“To have the project presented at the Royal Society represents the critical importance of this type of research globally,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase Australian research internationally. Australia is being identified as a world leader in these areas.”

— Gen Kennedy

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