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School of Geography and Planning research at the forefront of tackling climate change

3 November 2022

Cape Town
Cape Town

A research project led by Dr Adrian Healy from the School of Geography and Planning, “Water Stressed Cities: Individual choice, access to water and pathways to resilience in sub-Saharan Africa” has been featured in material produced for COP27 by the Low Carbon Energy and Environment Research Network Wales (LCEERN) team at Bangor University.

On November 6, world leaders will meet in Egypt for the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP27. In celebration, the LCEERN team have compiled a set of case studies highlighting Wales - Africa climate focussed research collaborations which include two case studies from Cardiff University.

Africa is a key player in the battle against climate change. The continent is home to 18% of the world’s tropical forests giving it a vital role in mitigating climate change. With rapidly growing populations seeking economic growth, African countries are also forced to think outside the box for ways to achieve development in climate friendly way leading to new innovations.

The project, a collaboration with the African Ministers’ Council on Water, tackles another vital issue, access to drinking water. UNICEF estimates that 418 million people in Africa are still lacking access to basic drinking water services with climate change making provision of drinking water even more challenging.

Dr Adrian Healy, Principal Research Fellow at the School of Geography and Planning, said: “Householders are on the frontline of water scarcity. They are key to understanding the necessary management and protection of groundwater resources, essential for the long-term water security and resilience of urban areas across Africa.”

The project looks at important questions such as how much groundwater is currently being extracted? Is it safe to drink? Is it sustainable? And how is climate change likely to effect the groundwater supply? The dialogue that has been started by the team with African leaders and city planners will ensure that cities are prepared for the future the potential impacts of climate change.

“It is wonderful to see the diversity of collaborations between researchers based in Wales and those in a wide range of excellent African research institutions” says Julia Jones, a professor at Bangor University and director of the network. “A successful research collaboration becomes more than the sum of its parts and is a great opportunity for all involved.”

Cardiff University’s research collaborations build on a strong ethos of collaborative research among Welsh universities with more than 50% of Wales’s research output having been produced by international collaborations. And it gets results. An assessment of Welsh research published in 2021 found that Welsh research had 80% more citations, the number of times the research was mentioned in other research papers, than the global average.

“These case studies really highlight the importance of Welsh research on the global stage,” says Rhys Bowley, manager of the network. “We really are a small nation with big ideas!”

Find out more about the featured research projects and see other examples of researchers in Wales tackling climate related issues.

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