Water expert heads to London
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
The University of Adelaide's Professor Mike Young has been appointed as a research fellow in the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to provide advice on reforming the water abstraction regime to address the challenge of climate change.
Faciliated through his recent appointment as an Honorary Professor within the UCL Environment Institute at one of the world's leading universities, University College London (UCL), Professor Young has taken up a 10-week research fellowship with the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of a joint research initiative designed to deliver mutual learning opportunities between the two countries.
Mike Young is Professor of Water and Environmental Policy at the University of Adelaide and was founding Executive Director of the University's Environment Institute.
"Most Australians think of the UK as being a lush, green, rainy environment, free of water issues. The reality is that the UK is faced with water management problems in the future similar to those experienced in Australia over the last decade," says Professor Young, who is currently in England.
"In December 2011, the UK's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs presented a Water White Paper to Parliament, setting out a plan to address a wide range of emerging water management challenges arising from climate change and increasing demand for water from population growth. The reality that droughts come and go has now been imposed on top of this challenge.
"Water scarcity is now a real issue in the UK, and one of the government's biggest challenges is to search for ways to improve its water licensing system," Professor Young says.
"Hosepipe bans" (water restrictions) have been introduced in some areas in response to two winters running down ground water, with potential impacts from water shortages on recreation, wildlife and the price of fresh produce. In other areas, communities are having to deal with floods.
"The full spectrum of water resource management challenges is on the table," Professor Young says.
UCL's Vice-Provost (International) Professor Michael Worton, who visited Adelaide in March, says he is delighted to see the emergence of a two-way exchange of knowledge between the two universities: "UCL is bringing knowledge about mining and energy to Australia and Adelaide is bringing knowledge about water to the United Kingdom. Increasingly, research is becoming an international activity," he says.
Professor Young says: "Australian experience with water reforms is internationally acclaimed. One of the licensing options under consideration in the UK is similar to that now used throughout much of Australia. Our legal systems are similar. Although not all of the Australian experience will be relevant, given vast differences in our environments, there is still much we can learn from each other."
Mike Young has recently been appointed to the Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair of Australian Studies, a prestigious visiting professorship at Harvard University, which starts next year.
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