Director’s Welcome to Edition 4 of the ARI Magazine

Australian Rivers Institute Director Professor Stuart Bunn. Photo Australian Rivers Institute.

Author: Australian Rivers Institute Director Stuart Bun

Magazine Link: Magazine – Read Time: 711words, about 6 minutes.

After an unavoidable delay, I welcome you to this edition of the Australian Rivers Institute Magazine.

Looking back over the past year, it is quite remarkable to see how well staff and students in the Institute have responded to the challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic and pursued new opportunities. As a result, the Institute has continued to grow. Travel restrictions may have changed the way we engage with international partners, but several significant initiatives are progressing well. While there have been some interruptions to field work and planned workshop meetings, most research projects are also still on track. However, we acknowledge the impact the pandemic is having on our international students and research staff – not only those who have been unable to take up positions here but also our current members who have family and friends overseas.

Earlier this year, we were thrilled to receive international recognition as the world’s leading think tank for “water security” in the 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report produced by the University of Pennsylvania. This is a testament to the sustained effort of staff and students in the Institute to provide innovative research, strategic analysis and public engagement on a wide range of policy issues under the broad definition of water security. The announcement coincided with our decision to lead a rebid for a new Cooperative Research Centre for Water Security, which was submitted in August this year. We are hoping to raise over $40m from research and industry partners and seek matching funds from the Commonwealth’s CRC program. The bid has strong support from across the water sector, including peak bodies, NGO’s, water utilities, local governments (city and rural) and a broad range of commercial entities.

In 2020, the International WaterCentre (IWC) was formally brought into the University, hosted within the Australian Rivers Institute. IWC began in 2005 as a partnership between four leading universities, including Griffith, and the Queensland Government. For the past few years, IWC has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the University and co-located with ARI in the Samuel Griffith building at our Nathan Campus.

The Australian Rivers Institute has been named the number one global think tank in water security in the ‘2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report’.

The recent changes have strengthened opportunities for collaboration in research and training. This issue of the ARI Magazine covers a small part of IWC’s recent achievements in one of their core areas of research on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

ARI staff have continued to shine as leaders in their respective research fields over the past year. Dr Fernanda Adame, Dr Hannah Franklin and Dr Shime Ziajahromi received three of the four Advance Queensland Fellowships awarded to Griffith University in 2020. Professor Sue Jackson was awarded an ARC Special Research Initiative grant on the formation and evolution of cultural values and practices relating to water in the Murray-Darling Basin. More recently, Dr Chris Brown has been awarded a prestigious ARC Future Fellowship.

This edition of the magazine is broad in scope and highlights the breadth of talent we have, and the range of research topics we cover in the Institute. It includes a topical article from ARI’s Deputy Director David Hamilton on the effects of climate change on water storage – a serious issue for water security globally. Dr Mischa Turschwell dives into the risks associated with the Belt and Road Initiative and its potential affects on marine biodiversity, a significant piece of research covering the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken. Many Australians have experienced recent bushfires, with 11 million hectares burnt over the past decade, and Professor Chengrong Chen’s article covers the significant changes that have occurred to our soil due to large scale bushfires. Professor Rod Connolly showcases the innovative work that is being done under the Global Wetlands (GLOW) Project on AI and fish monitoring. Also, Associate Professor Jim Smart explains the major opportunities and challenges to increasing investment in nutrient offsetting to facilitate cost-effective catchment restoration.

I trust you enjoy this latest instalment on the work of the Australian Rivers Institute.

Magazine Link: Magazine

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