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Newcastle University leads global humanitarian research hubs

Written by News

Newcastle University is demonstrating its commitment to providing a safer and more prosperous future as two experts set plans to lead two of the twelve UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Research Hubs as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The UKRI is investing £200 million across 12 interdisciplinary hubs in order to combat the rising issues facing the planet and civilisation, supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals that challenge issues relating to “poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice”.

Dr Andy Large and Professor Richard Dawson will be leading the tackle for water security and the safeguarding of river deltas and their surrounding communities. Dr Large, a reader in River Science will be leading the UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub, while Earth System Engineering Professor Dawson will be leading the UKRI GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub.

Over the next five years, Dr Large and Professor Dawson will contribute to the development of creative and sustainable solutions to help tackle challenges facing the world in collaboration with 94 organisations from across 25 countries. The cooperation of multinational organisations will enable access to vital skills in science, engineering, architecture, geography and social sciences, providing expertise in a number of academic disciplines.

Dr Andy Large’s River Delta Hub will focus on three Asian deltas in Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, with the aim of “safeguarding delta futures through more resilient communities and sustainable development”. The model for the project aims to instil a sense of collusion between those living in the deltas’ surrounding areas and those focussed on the research and development of them. As Dr Andy Large points out, because of the impact of human activity on these areas “the necessity of sustainable development strategies underpinned by locally-rooted knowledge becomes ever greater”, as this knowledge is vital in ensuring the deltas’ survival.

Professor Richard Dawson will be tackling Water Security and the challenges that face it, including “pollution, extreme weather, urbanisation, over-abstraction of groundwater and land degradation”. Also featuring a combination of international organisations, Dawson’s Hub aims to investigate the challenges that have so far been barriers to global water security. To do so a forum will be accessible for all involved parties, enabling the discussion and evaluation of these issues, creating a collaborative space in order to develop new ideas that can hopefully eradicate these challenges.

Dawson will additionally be involving local communities, as well as governments, water providers and businesses to ensure a successful and sustainable elimination of the obstacles that face water security, believing that only through collaboration can this issue be solved. Dawson has described this opportunity to “mark a new era in our research programme” following “70 years of water research at Newcastle University”.

Therefore, these two UKRI Global Research Hubs demonstrate a promising and potentially prosperous future for both Newcastle University and the future social and natural environment, paving the way for a safer and more sustainable future in the UK and globally.

Last modified: 4th February 2019

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