Water Symposium 2019

Water in Africa: Innovations and Challenges Symposium

April 16-18 2019

Hosted by the CSU Africa Center & Water Center

Symposium Description

The Water in Africa Symposium was held from April 16-18, 2019 at Colorado State University. The three-day event included three keynote presentations, three panels of invited experts in three thematic areas, and a student poster session.

The Symposium was broadly focused on innovations and challenges associated with water and sustainability throughout the African continent - with focal themes in the areas of:
a) Water, Land & Conservation,
b) Water & Societal Change, and
c) Water in Africa 2050.

The Keynote speakers complemented each of these themes. You can watch their talks on YouTube below!

Key challenges and innovations

Three key challenges were identified:
(a) the pace and momentum of social and environmental change, especially climate changes, across sectors and disciplines that collectively threaten sustainable initiatives throughout Africa, (b) fostering water and sustainability research and practice that is inclusive, equitable, and just; and, (c) scaling-up existing insights and African capacity, especially work that is linking the local to the global in knowledge, connections, and partnerships.

Three overarching innovations that could make a difference in water and sustainability were discussed as well: (a) changing norms around empowering historically marginalized demographics, especially the empowerment of women and youth; (b) transitioning away from external, non-African science expertise, and incorporating other knowledges in science with action; and (c) identifying, leveraging, and scaling-up local African innovations.


Key Outcomes

There are several key outcomes from the Water in Africa symposium. First, there are three thematic summaries that are being developed which employ the three thematic sessions from the Symposium. Second, a policy brief is being prepared for the American Anthropological Society synthesizing insights from the Symposium. Third, the symposium forms part of a longer-term research effort associated with both the Colorado Water Center and NASA, linking the Sustainable Development Goals with water and land management in Kenya. Thus, relationships are in the process of being formalized with partners in both Kenya, and more broadly throughout Africa. 

Graphic recording from the panel on 'Water and Societal Change'
Graphic recording from the panel on 'Water, Land, and Conservation'
Graphic recording from the panel on 'Water in Africa 2050'

Keynote Speakers - Watch their talks!

Coleen Vogel

Distinguished Professor, University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg

Professor Coleen Vogel is a climatologist by training and has undertaken research in climate change, climate vulnerability and adaptation, with a particular focus on disaster risk reduction and climate variability. She was one of the key contributors to the writing of the Green and White Papers on South African Disaster Management and was a major contributing author for the Disaster Management Act. 

She was one of the Chapter Lead Authors of the Africa Chapter for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC 4th Assessment Report and was also an author of the Synthesis Report for Policy Makers of the 4th IPCC Assessment Report. This large team of various scientists, together with Al Gore, received a Nobel Peace Prize. Coleen was a Chapter Author on Human Security for the 5th IPCC assessment report. Coleen has also been involved in various international global environmental change activities. She has been Chair and Vice Chair of international committees (for example, the International Human Dimensions Programme, now known together with other international programmes as Future Earth). She has received an international award, the Burtoni Award, for her work on climate change advocacy and science of climate change adaptation. Her current research interests include transformative education for global environment change and sustainability, climate change in its broader context and adaptation and disaster risk reduction focusing particularly on the interactions between physical and social dimensions shaping change. She is very keen to build links and collaborations with others, particularly in sustainability and transdisciplinarity science.
Coleen is currently project lead on the City of Johannesburg Adaptation and climate change. Passionate about youth development she is very involved in mentoring students (both undergraduate and post graduate) helping to advance both theory and praxis in various practical research projects with value-add impacts. In addition to being an adaptation specialist, Coleen is also undertaking research into transdisciplinary research approaches.

Munira Anyonge Bashir

Kenya Program Director-Africa Region, The Nature Conservancy

Ms. Munira Anyonge is a wildlife conservation manager, community enterprise development specialist and a tourism development expert with over 20 years professional experience. She holds a BA in Business Studies and Administration and Master’s Degree, major in Tourism.   She is skilled in project management, community mobilization and awareness creation, policy development and analysis, strategic planning and implementation. Her breadth of professional experience includes careers as a Tourism officer with the government of Kenya; Executive Assistant and Public Relations  officer at the National Museums of Kenya; Community Development Specialist and USAID program Manager with Kenya Wildlife Service for over 10-years; She was among lead persons for the development of wildlife  policy and legislation; Champion for Strategic plan development at Kenya Wildlife Service  and the Head of the Community Enterprise development program at Kenya Wildlife Service. Munira is a highly recognized individual in the wildlife sector in Kenya. An accomplished manager, a facilitator of successful community wildlife development initiatives, including the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA). Munira is a passionate wildlife conservationist with several successful achievements including the Head of State Commendation (HSC) for her work in championing community benefits from wildlife conservation. She is fluent in English and Swahili.

Munira has a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Tourism Development; BA in Business Studies; Professional skills in Protected Area Management-University of Montana, Missoula, USA, (2005); and Community Based Natural Resource-Management Rhodes University, South Africa, 2002               

Line Gordon

Director, Stockholm Resilience Center

Gordon is an internationally recognised scientist in sustainability of water, food, and the biosphere. She conducts innovative research that combines work with small scale farmers in Africa, global models of land-use and rainfall interactions, and culinary innovators.

She has previously served as deputy director, deputy science director and research theme leader at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

As a researcher, Gordon is particularly interested in how intentional and unintentional actions in one place can influence systemic change elsewhere. In research she integrates insights from resilience thinking, land use change, food systems, hydrology, and social-ecological systems.

Her work also includes extensive experience in leading international research projects. One example is her research on Moisture recycling, analysing how land use change influence rainfall patterns and hydrology elsewhere.

She currently co-leads the food theme in the Wallenberg Foundation funded Stanford collaboration programmes on ‘Natural capital, resilience and biosphere stewardship’ and ‘Fundamental research in biosphere-based sustainability science’. She is one of the authors of the forthcoming EAT-Lancet Commission, and on its Executive Editorial Team.

Gordon has published more than 50 research articles, including articles in PNAS and Trends in Ecology and the Environment. She also co-authored the book Water Resilience for Human Prosperity (2014) and has contributed to several other book chapters.

Gordon has a PhD in Natural Resources Management from Department of Systems Ecology at Stockholm University, and a Post Doc at the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka.


The Water in Africa Symposium was Sponsored by: