Seminars, field trips to create awareness among the public
The University of Kerala and the University of New South Wales have initiated a collaboration with an objective of addressing the factors that affect the major coastal waterbodies across the world.
Christened ‘The Waterways International Research Programme', the activity of the association, which is intended to be long-term, will bring together the technical expertise of scientists from various universities and members of civil societies. The envisaged programmes will involve publishing journals on related topics, conducting seminars, taking out field trips, and creating awareness among the general public. “The members of civil society have a major role in conserving the environment. Attempts will have to be made to sensitise these sections on the wide-ranging issues that require immediate and active participation,” Shaji Varkey, Head of Department of Political Science at the University of Kerala told The Hindu here on Wednesday.
James Arvanitakis, a lecturer at the University of Western Sydney and a participant of the ongoing programme, emphasised the importance of the partnership.
“The water systems across the world are challenged for many different reasons. The challenges include expanding population, change in economic demands, urban and rural developments, expansion in tourism and climate changes. Attempts should be made to identify both the challenges and evolve the best possible methods to manage these water bodies. The ways in which we work with different people and create a system from which we could learn from each other assumes great importance,” he said.
“Bringing about a change would require coordination among governance, technology, culture, social capital and legal instruments. Many a times, these vital factors do not progress hand in hand,” he said.
The first such conclave that commenced here on Wednesday focused on waterways like the Botany Bay in Australia, the Songkhla Lake in Thailand, Chesapeake Bay in the United States of America (USA), the Hoogli River and the Vembanad Lake in India.
Others who had participated in the session included Paul Brown, Head of the School of History and Philosophy at the University of New South Wales; N. C. Narayanan, professor at the IIT Bombay; G. Gopakumar, former Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Kerala; Jowanita Toom of the Prince of Songkhla University, Thailand; K.G. Padmakumar, associate director of research at the Kerala Agricultural University, Kumarakom; and Deb Narayan Bandyopadhyay of the Burdwan University, West Bengal.
The team will later proceed on a field trip to various locations of the Vembanad lake, Kochi, and other adjoining areas to study the social impact of the waterways.