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Belmont Forum Collaborative Research: Transformations to Groundwater Sustainability: joint learnings from human-groundwater interactions


Global environmental change, environmental degradation and resource pressures have created unprecedented situations for societies worldwide. The slow progress on addressing these challenges has led to increasing emphasis on the need to go beyond the study and encouragement of incremental change. Conventional knowledge and capacity building to tackle the challenges associated with sustainability have had limited positive impacts; consequently, there is growing need for more fundamental knowledge on how transformations in the way societies interact both with each other and with the natural environment. Societal transformations refer to profound and enduring systemic changes that typically involve social, cultural, technological, political, economic and environmental processes. A comprehensive and concerted research initiative is needed that can boost research on transformations to sustainability and catalyze new kinds of solutions to environmental and social challenges. <br/><br/>This award supports U.S. researchers participating in a project competitively selected by a 19-country initiative through the Belmont Forum- NORFACE-ISSC. Transformations to Sustainability (T2S) is a multilateral initiative designed to support research projects that will contribute to re-structuring the broad field of sustainability research. Co-production of knowledge and research problem formulation is considered to be critical to the process of societal transformation and each project engages stakeholders or community-based partners. The initiative seeks to develop the fundamental knowledge societies require to help develop transformations to sustainability which are of significant social concern throughout the world and of great relevance to both academics and stakeholders. The T2S program aims to build capacity, overcome fragmentation and have a lasting impact on both society and the research landscape by cultivating durable research collaboration across multiple borders, disciplinary boundaries, and with practitioners and societal partners. This includes facilitating the development of new research collaborations with parts of the world which are not often involved in large-scale international research efforts, notably low- and middle-income countries. The funds provided in this award will be used to support U.S. participants to cooperate in consortia that consist of partners from at least three of the participating countries and that bring together natural scientists, social scientists and research users (e.g., civil society, NGOs, and industry). Participants from other countries are funded through their national funding organizations. <br/><br/>As an invisible resource, groundwater requires visualization; as an underground supply, it calls for technologies of extraction; as a finite good, groundwater needs to be shared, protected and cared for; and as a practical everyday resource, it is needed to sustain irrigation, sanitation, and human consumption. This project seeks to comparatively study promising community driven initiatives around water resource sustainability practices and governance models in places where pressures on the resource are particularly acute (India, Algeria, Morocco, USA, Chile, Peru, Tanzania).<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Flora Lu
University of California - Santa Cruz
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