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York research delegation to lead water security panel at UN Water Conference

York research delegation to lead water security panel at UN Water Conference

A York delegation will head to New York City March 21 to bring their research expertise to the UN 2023 Water Conference.

The delegates will lead a panel discussion on water security and climate change; the panel is one of a select group of side events included in the program.

Sapna Sharma
Sapna Sharma

“Very few side events led by a university were approved. My colleagues and I are excited for this opportunity on the international stage to demonstrate York’s exemplary work in this field,” said Sapna Sharma, an associate professor in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the effects of climate change on lake ice and water quality.

“Our panel will amplify Indigenous and Black voices, and focus on the challenges that these marginalized communities face with respect to water security globally,” Sharma said. “We will also talk about technological solutions and what people are doing to help solve the water crisis in their own way.”

The York delegation will be joined on the panel by researchers from Toronto Metropolitan University and Queen’s University, as well as representatives from: Global Water Promise, a non-profit organization focused on bringing clean water to developing countries; Stockholm International Water Institute, a foundation for water governance; and mWater, a free data management platform for water and sanitation providers.

For Sharma, the panel’s model of knowledge co-production is critical to creating the climate resiliency necessary for the future.

“By merging knowledge together, we can come up with better policies and tangible solutions for the water crisis that disproportionately affects racialized women and children,” she said.

The UN side event is also reflective of the collaborative research approach found at York, including in water-related fields. The York delegates are members of One WATER, a new Organized Research Unit, as well as the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, and CIFAL York, a UN training arm. In addition to Sharma, they include:

  • Satinder Brar, professor, Lassonde School of Engineering
  • Marina Freire Gormaly, assistant professor, Lassonde School of Engineering
  • Ellie Perkins, professor, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change
  • Mary Bunch, associate professor, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Susan Rogers Van Katwyk, adjunct professor and managing director, Global Strategy Lab
  • Jessica Keeshig-Martin, PhD student, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Hibaq Gelle, MA student, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

The delegation will be joined at the conference by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and Vice-President Research and Innovation Amir Asif. While in New York, the pair will meet with UN and government officials, global partners, and others, to discuss York University’s leadership in water research and sustainability initiatives.

The trip to the UN Water Conference comes on the heels of the release of York’s Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living, SDG Week Canada and coincides with Climate Change Research Month at the University.

York delegation’s panel, called Water Security, Disasters, and Resilience in a Changing Climate: Challenges, Opportunities, and Solutions, takes place on March 24. The UN Water Conference, co-hosted by the governments of Tajikistan and the Netherlands, takes place March 22 to 24.

Courtesy of yFile

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