Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Water resources in Canada face a number of serious challenges. The demand-supply balance is worsening. Income and population growth and rising international demands for Canada's natural resources lead to growing demand for water while climate change and pollution levels reduce the sustainable supply. Many of the regulations and institutions governing water do not provide incentives for conservation and innovation, do not fully recognize nonmarket values of water and are not structured to deal with water use conflicts. Unfortunately, the very real costs of water mismanagement often fall on society's most vulnerable, including First Nations peoples. To date, most water-related research has been science and engineering based and focused upon technical solutions. A broader understanding is needed. The complexity of the challenges requires partnerships among researchers, managers, policy makers and community groups. Researchers in economics, geography, political science and related disciplines provide the necessary human dimensions to help solve our pressing water issues.
The Water Economics, Policy and Governance Network (WEPGN) partners and researchers will form a network to support and facilitate multidisciplinary research over two 3-year phases. In the first phase, research will be carried out by approximately 21 researchers, over 50 students and 30 partner organizations, organized around five research clusters: water and economy; information and decision-making; institutions and community; science and water policy and survey methodologies. The second phase will begin with a call for proposals to address emerging water issues from new perspectives. The network will contribute to knowledge mobilization through scholarly and industry publications, an annual conference, a website, webinars and other forms of media to communicate results and to maximize opportunities for real and lasting impacts.
WEPGN brings together a remarkably strong group of world-class social science researchers from Canada and abroad and an important set of institutional partners. WEPGN's Program Director is one of Canada's leading water economists and has extensive experience working with partner organizations. Included amongst its researchers are several Canada Research Chairs and University Research Chairs, and an NSERC Industrial Research Chair. WEPGN partners come from all levels of Canadian government and agencies with front-line responsibilities for water management. WEPGN partners will play many roles: defining research questions, engaging with research teams, providing cash and in-kind support, administering the network, and carrying out knowledge mobilization. WEPGN will yield several concrete benefits to participating researchers and students. Partner organizations will benefit by participating in research attuned to their concerns. In the long run, aquatic ecosystems, Canadians and the Canadian economy will all benefit.