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Tackling water challenges on a global scale

Program news Professors

April 6, 2017

On the heels of Canada’s Water Week, a celebration of water from coast-to-coast-to-coast, NSERC is pleased to announce its support for water research taking place not only within our own borders but on a global scale. NSERC is the Canadian funding partner organization, alongside the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), supporting six international research collaborations through the Water Joint Programming Initiative. The projects will focus on the sustainable management of water resources in agriculture, forestry and freshwater aquaculture. Canada will be the lead on three of the six projects receiving Canadian support, with a total contribution of $1.84 million CAD over three years. A total of 21 projects are receiving funding and are supported by 25 national and regional funding organisations from 22 countries.

The projects cover a wide range of areas, from social and economic sciences to nature sciences, and address a range of societal challenges related to water and agriculture including:

  • Increasing the efficiency and resilience of water uses
  • Monitoring and reducing soil and water pollution
  • Integrating social and economic dimensions into the sustainable management and governance of water resources

Canada’s successful participation in this international initiative demonstrates its strong leadership in the area of water sustainability and reinforces the importance of fostering close relationships with domestic and international partners. Going global allows our research community to access a pool of knowledge and expertise to further contribute to world-class research.

More information on the Canadian projects:

Project & Researcher Name Project Title Project Description Participating Countries
Dr. Mark Johnson
University of British Columbia
Agricultural Water Innovations in the Tropics

AgWIT will test strategies to lower agricultural impacts on water resources while improving the resiliency of tropical agricultural systems to climate change. The goal of this project is to increase agricultural water use efficiency, enhance long-term storage soil carbon, and improve the water quality of tropical agricultural systems.

*The project is partially funded by IDRC.

Canada, Germany, Brazil, Costa Rica, Denmark, Sweden, Taiwan
Dr. Philippe Van Cappellen
University of Waterloo
Legacies of Agricultural Pollutants (LEAP): Integrated Assessment of Biophysical and Socioeconomic Controls on Water Due to the large increase in agricultural production in past years, large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers are finding their way into water systems, which can cause aquatic toxicity and drinking water contamination. LEAP aims to gain a predictive understanding of the release of these nutrients over time and how they move and transform within water systems. Canada, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden
Dr. John Richardson
University of British Columbia
SOurce STream (headwater) PROtection from forest practices: what are the costs and benefits, and how best to do it? Small streams are closely linked to the forest landscape surrounding them and are vulnerable to alteration due to forest harvest. In most of the world small streams typically receive little to no protection from forestry. SOSTPRO aims to evaluate the benefits and costs of greater protection around small streams and how such changes to practices could benefit local and downstream impacts on streams for a representative set of forest landscape types. Canada, Finland, Sweden
Dr. Ibrahim Dincer
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Development and testing of a novel photocatalytic system for efficient cogeneration of clean water and hydrogen for ecosafe agriculture The ECOSAFEFARMING concept aims to create a new technology that allows for urban wastewater to be processed innovatively to produce clean, inherently nutrient rich irrigation water and hydrogen. In this regard, the present project addresses issues related to safe food production and clean and hence sustainable energy production. Turkey, Germany, Canada, Spain
Dr. Yongfeng Hu
Canadian Light Source
Eutrophication hotspots resulting from biogeochemical transformations and bioavailability of phosphorus in the fluvial suspended sediment of geologically contrasting agricultural catchments Previous research has demonstrated that the release of phosphorus nutrients into an ecosystem may promote excessive plant growth leading to a lack of oxygen for animal life as well as the degradation of surface water quality. Eutro-Sed aims to identify what causes these increases in phosphorus in the sediment, better understand how these organic phosphorus compounds degrade and move within the environment, and improve agricultural productivity by incorporating any insights learned from this research. Ireland and Sweden
Dr. Peter Dillon
Trent University
Impacts of MicroPlastics in AgroSystems and Stream Environments Recent research suggests that farmed soils may be exposed to microplastics following applications of sewage biosolids. IMPASSE aims to identify the transport pathways and possible ecological impacts of these microplastics, and to develop management solutions which will protect agricultural sustainability, economic goals, and human and animal health. Norway, Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden

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