Results of the “WATER, MEGACITIES AND GLOBAL CHANGES” challenge

 

logo_wmglobalchange (1)RESULTS OF THE “WATER, MEGA CITIES AND GLOBAL CHANGE” CONFERENCE IN PARIS, DECEMBER 2015

The Science and Technology Service of the French Embassy in India, in collaboration with the Organizing Committee (UNESCO and ARCEAU IdF) of the International Conference on “Water, Megacities and Global Change”, launched a call for applications to give a unique opportunity to a young Indian PhD Student to attend an all-expense paid International Conference in Paris from 30th November to 4th December, 2015.

The SST received 14 outstanding applications from PhD students from various institutes of Higher education in India. After a tough deliberation, the Scientific Committee finally chose two winners : Ms. Ruchira Ghosh from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) University. Her PhD research topic is “Water system planning in megacities using urban metabolism approach”; and Ms. Rinan Shah from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) was selected as the second winner. Her research topic is “Water issues as a factor of sustainability in the peri-urban and urban areas in the Eastern Himalayas.”

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Ruchira and Rinan reached Paris on 30th November, 2015. The Conference began with an ice breaking event, a night prior to the Official Inauguration of the Conference. The next morning, the International Conference on “Water, Mega Cities and Global Change” was inaugurated by Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of the UNESCO, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This was followed by keynote addresses by eminent speakers like Cynthia Rosenzweig, Co-Director of UCCRN, NASA Columbia University; Arjun Thapan, President of Waterlinks; Maude Barlow, President of Canadians Council and Daniel Zimmer, Innovation Director of KIC-Climat. The session was chaired by Jacques Olivier, General Director of SIAAP.

They brought up the issues and challenges of water resources and their management that mega cities of the world are currently dealing with. The conference aimed at creating a global alliance among the megacities of the world with water as the common link.

Water is the prime driver of a healthy society; hence an effort to iron out differences between the civil societies, researchers, policy makers and administrators was one of the objectives of the Conference. There were sessions on water and megacities focusing on creation and sustenance of water infrastructure as essential but in synergy with social, economic, cultural and political aspects of any region. The Speakers and panelists from organizations like UCCRN, IWA, OECD and other bilateral organizations stressed on multidisciplinary research towards gender equity for water accessibility, sanitation and water availability; concentration on cities rather than nations; cooperation against urban warming and thinking beyond boundaries, as resource issues are a global concern.

Various water related issues (urban flooding, water supply and sanitation, inadequacy in sewage management, ground water protection, strategies to deal with ageing water infrastructure and inefficient pipeline network outreach, etc.) currently faced by megacities like Istanbul, India, China, New York, Mexico, Manila, Lagos, Sao Paulo, London, Paris, Chicago, etc., were discussed as case studies. The panelists also deliberated on probable solutions for certain cities which are struggling with high water scarcity and water-climate risks. They also presented megacity portraits with a need to understand roles of political economy, investments, water trading, decentralized vs centralized management, water partnership, water capital markets, use of smart technologies like smart meters, etc. The conference concluded on the fourth day with a session which summarized the discussions and noted the way forward for the future generation.

 

Ruchira Ghosh says

“The conference was a well-timed opportunity for me as my doctoral thesis focusses on water system planning in megacities using urban metabolism approach. It provided me with a useful network and a knowledge exchanging platform, where I could communicate with experts working in this area. On-field experiences of the experts helped me to reinvigorate paradoxes of urban sustainability and water resource management. Also, the discussion forum on vacuum in responsibility for planning urban sanitation between bilateral and multilateral organizations widened my horizons and helped me to better understand global water issues. Further, the exposure has helped me to understand how megacity alliance can pave the way towards collaborative solutions. This Conference has provided me with a better future outlook towards research and serving in agencies dealing with water related issues in growing megacities.”

Rinan Shah says

 “The conference gave us a platform to be much more than an audience. We were able to tap into the research and ground work for water going on all around the world and meet people who were the driving forces behind such initiatives. We clarified our doubts and had conversations with a variety of speakers. Overall, it was a remarkable experience.

We extend our sincere gratitude to the Science and Technology Service of the French Embassy for giving us the opportunity to participate in such an enriching Conference. We are very thankful to the entire organizing team of the conference especially Mr. Bruno Tassin and Mme Géraldine Izambart for the logistics and support extended and Mme Neng Jia and Mme Domitille Coulomb for hosting both of us. Thank you all for adding such an educative, fun-filled and memorable experience to our lives.”

We extend our sincere gratitude to the Science and Technology Service of the French Embassy for giving us the opportunity to participate in such an enriching Conference. We are very thankful to the entire organizing team of the conference especially Mr. Bruno Tassin and Mme Géraldine Izambart for the logistics and support extended and Mme Neng Jia and Mme Domitille Coulomb for hosting both of us. Thank you all for adding such an educative, fun-filled and memorable experience to our lives.”

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