PROGRESS Lab Participates in Water Security Workshop

On Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016, Dr. Maureen Reed and some students of the PROGRESS Lab attended a one-day workshop on Water Security hosted by the Prince Albert Model Forest (PAMF). The workshop under the theme “Interactions between Communities and Scientists was organized by Dr. Kenji Kitamura of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) located in Kyoto, Japan.

The Water Security workshop organized in Saskatchewan was the fourth in a series of workshops hosted by the ILEK project and held across various countries.  Past workshops have taken place in Fiji, the United States, and Japan. In these workshops, ILEK is seeking to examine how society-science interactions can contribute better to solving diverse local issues. Canada and specifically Saskatchewan’s workshop focused on how society-science interactions can help to address water security challenges.

In Saskatchewan, participants in the workshop came from diverse backgrounds including students, scientists from industry and academia, the private sector and First Nation Communities.

The water security workshop had three main sessions. In the first session, Dr. Mark Johnson, President of PAMF gave an introductory message to welcome participants and to open the workshop. The major highlight of this session was a keynote presentation by Dr. Zilefac E. Asong of the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS), University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Zilefac’s presentation focused on water security issues, particularly within the Saskatchewan River Basin, and addressed three central questions: What are the main problems with water issues in Saskatchewan? What types of hazards exist? And how have society and science been working together? Drawing from some of the past and ongoing research by the GIWS on water security within the SRB, Dr. Zilefac’s presentation answered the above questions and drew keen interest from participants of the workshop.  

In the second session, participants were divided into four breakout groups with two rounds of discussions. In the first round, participants shared their experiences on science-society collaboration. In the second round, the participants discussed the kind of science-society interaction that needed to address local actions, especially about water security challenges within Saskatchewan. The participants from the PROGRESS Lab facilitated the discussions in the breakout groups.

The third and last session of the workshop witnessed a brief presentation of the reports from the break-out groups and led by each of the facilitators. One of the key highlights from the panel’s presentation was a call to scientists to enhance communication and transparency with society regarding their research design, implementation, and output.  To this end, participants suggested that scientists should strive to use innovative technological tools and methodologies that can enable different societal stakeholders to participate in defining and addressing particular local challenges.

The Prince Albert Model Forest, Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve and the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability supported the water security workshop. To learn more about the activities of institutions and research projects that supported the water security workshop, follow the links below.

Prince Albert Model Forest: http://www.pamodelforest.sk.ca/

Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve: http://redberrylake.ca/

Integrated Local Environmental Knowledge: http://en.ilekcrp.org/

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