Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop, Mexico (2016)

Thornhill, I. Urban residual waters; ecological and social resilience. Economic development and social welfare under pressure: Climate change impacts on water resources. Researcher Links Workshop, Puebla, Mexico. September 2016.

One of the main drivers of this workshop was to highlight the importance of transdisciplinarity when carrying out research on climate change and water issues. Effective management of water resources with climate fluctuations requires multi-actor, multi-level approaches. The location selected for this workshop was the Puebla Valley, located in eastern-central Mexico.  Puebla is one of Mexico’s states with highest percentage of people living in poverty (65.5%, Coneval, 2014). Many communities are heavily dependent on water with small irrigation systems to produce food and fodder. This makes water an essential input to the wider economic sustainability of this area. The specific communities visited demonstrated pertinent examples of water-related issues within the local communities, each facing problems with water scarcity due to pluvial climatic changes and consequences on declining water storage in aquifers. Our visits, facilitated by the excellent network of contacts with COLPOS, allowing our workshop participants to see some of the main water-related issues for local communities and to gain first-hand experience through speaking with local people on-site. This allowed us to focus workshop discussions on CC and water resources in the context of both research gaps and pathways to translate research into action through specific case-studies as well as more generally.

The workshop gave a fantastic opportunity and location to bring together UK and Mexican early career researchers to discuss this critically important subject – to exchange knowledge, skills and experiences from the two countries and different institutions between each country, and look for further opportunities to collaborate. Giving such opportunities to researchers early on in their careers is central to the Researcher Links initiative, which is helping to internationalise research to the benefit of the UK and partner countries.

Specific achievements of the workshop included:

  • Bridging a dialogue between early career researchers all involved in water-related research from different disciplines, methodologies, skills and experience across two different countries (UK, Mexico)
  • Future capacity building across participating institutions for early researchers to develop their research on issues of climate change and water management (both applied and fundamental) within an international context, as required by these urgent transnational issues
  • Raising wider awareness amongst other researchers, policymakers, practitioners and general public about this important issue for peoples’ livelihoods in Mexico
  • Encouraging UK and Mexican participants to continue their contacts after the workshop and explore options for future projects together. All participants said they learned a lot and were enthusiastic to look for opportunities to apply for funding for future collaborative work.
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