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U of C named first United Nations University Hub for Water

By Kimberly Taylor, February 5 2024—

The University of Calgary has been named the United Nations University (UNU) Hub for water. This formalizes a partnership between the U of C and the UN Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNIWEH). 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Dr. Martyn Clark, Schulich Chair for Environmental Prediction at the Civil Engineering Department, highlighted that the Hub aligns with the University’s strategic plan, Ahead of Tomorrow, and its investments in creating incubator and accelerator programs for business and technology start-ups.

“What we’re doing in the hub is directly linked to the strategic plan. What we see is that the university has been really good at developing incubator accelerator programs for software development and business development and what the hub provides an opportunity to do is to provide incubator accelerator programs on global sustainability,” said Clark.

Clark stated that the director of the UNIWEH, which is associated with McMaster University, wanted to take advantage of expertise across Canada, and developed hubs to create a network of researchers and broaden the UN partnership. The hub for water will bring the UN to the U of C  campus and increase the impact of the research work at the university through the partnership with the UN.

“It’s a relationship where it effectively brings the United Nations to university campuses. What the UN hub at the University of Calgary enables us to do is work more closely with the United Nations to close the science and society policy gap. To amplify the impact of the research we do in the water program,” said Clark.

Rooted in sustainability and addressing climate change will be four clusters of research: understanding changes in aquatic ecosystems, risks of infectious diseases, water sustainability and building resilience in Indigenous communities. The hub will offer opportunities to students including joint graduate degree programs and experiential learning experiences.

“[We] hope that [students] will gain the breadth of expertise that enables them to be effective in working on international development issues. That’s why we’re deliberately building in some of the experiential learning opportunities into the joint degree program so that students will gain the skills and determination that they need in order to address the new class of problems that we have,” he said.

Clark noted that the U of C  is also uniquely positioned to tackle global concerns and that the creation of this partnership will enhance knowledge mobilization and increase opportunities for grant applications and funding for research for the institution and for students.

“Culture of ideas is key in Calgary and the university has supported a thriving innovation ecosystem that can leverage to tackle a lot of our challenging global water and health problems,” said Clark. “The thing that’s missing is the mechanism to connect people to problems and view the hub as being that mechanism. We’re excited about what we’ll be able to build.” 

For more information about the Hub visit the U of C website.

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