This afternoon I took part in a meeting hosted by Landcare Research. Landcare has recently won funding from FRST for the next few years to investigate qualitative and quantitative methods in water resource governance. Down here in Canterbury especially (but elsewhere in NZ and internationally also) water management is an area of growing importance. Water is internationally a mammoth issue and in this country there is plenty of debate regarding how much water resource we actually have, how much should be allocated and the qualitative results thereof. Heady stuff!
Part of the rationale for the study is the fact that there is a divide between what science is saying and what industry and resource management people hear. To this end it was identified that facilitation needs to occur to cross the scientific/lay divide.
My reason therefore for being there is that Enterprise North Canterbury, of which I am a board member, is a collaborator on the project which will specifically study water resource governance issues in the Hurunui area.
The meeting included more PhD’s than I’ve come across before, from a myriad of disciplines – economics, hydrology, social science, meteorology etc etc. With all this many academics the question was always whether the talk would be at a level that could engage with the grass roots water users.
I can happily report that, in general, discussion was pragmatic and all participants are focused on creating some data that is useful in the real world and this fills me with hope.
For a long time I’ve said that the key to unlocking societal and economic growth in this country is to build multidisciplinary teams from academia, business and regulatory groups – the project here is an example of just that – getting all stakeholders around a table to discuss and hopefully build consensus on the best way forward.