The APRU Sustainability and Climate Change Research Program has evolved out of a prior APRU World Institute research program on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies (AWI-CMAS). Until 2010 there was strong and increasing momentum since its first meeting of the representatives of the founding universities in October 2007 at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Following that the theme was focused and the work divided into projects which have already commenced with teams created around these in the growing number of participating universities.
At its March 2010 meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, the participants had expanded from the founding universities (University of Melbourne, University of California at San Diego, National University of Singapore, University of Malaya, Chulalongakorn University, and Kyoto University) to include Australian National University, University of Indonesia, the United Nations University, the Asian Institute of Technology, the University of California at Santa Barbarba, and the University of Southern California. The meeting included contributions from representatives of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and USAID. Interest in the work of CMAS continues to grow rapidly with other universities actively interested in joining its work.
In mid-2010 it became necessary to find an new support base for CMAS. It was not until early 2012 that a secretariat was firmly established for a new APRU-SCC program, re-established with the full support of the new APRU Secretary General, Professor Christopher Tremewan.
Over the period since its establishment, AWI-CMAS, and now APRU-SCC has focused its work around examining, on a comparative basis, key issues associated with integrated water management systems , in major Pacific Rim coastal cities, that need to live with the stresses of economic and population growth and climate change.
Water is central to human life, and human social organization. Current climate change projections make it clear that precipitation intensity and seasonality will change, with many locations being threatened by water deluges and many others by regional droughts, both as increasingly normal occurrences. These projected changes over the coming decades will exacerbate (i) current water shortages in many urban areas of Asia, US, Australia and Europe and (ii) extensive flooding from cyclone-, monsoon-, hurricane- and tsunami-events in many areas of Asia, Japan, the US and Australia.
For this reason, and in addition to current needs for understanding how to effectively manage water systems in urban communities, anticipating and adapting effectively to the effects of climate change will require developing an enhanced understanding of urban climate and precipitation projections and water systems in urban communities, and the ways they interact as integrated systems. The CMAS program has a strong emphasis on developing its work as a multi-university initiative with business, industry and government partners to assess climate change impacts on the whole integrated water systems of urban communities.
SCC (former CMAS) Model
SCC researchers have conceived of the interaction between human habitation and their water systems under the stress of economic and population growth through the following schematic model. Each tier of the model represents a research 'thrust area' for the SCC program.
Consistent with the above overall design, the SCC project is addressing urban communities in North America (San Diego), Asia (Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Danang) and Australia (Melbourne with a comparison case study in Canberra) using a series of connected thematic thrust areas. The thrust areas currently are:
I. Climate Systems
II. Hydrologic Systems
III. Society and Governance
IV. Water Use: Reclamation, Energy, Emissions & Environment
V. User Community Reference Process
The roles and tasks for each of the thrust areas is evolving as the research develops. More detailed development of them is found in the SCC Wiki.
Organisation and Forward Development
The APRU-SCC research program is jointly directed by a Planning Committee which meets approximately monthly by teleconference.
Each university is developing its own research team around a nominated team leader. Each thematic thrust area is led by a Theme Leader appointed by the Steering Committee. Each of the thrust areas is under development, with some much more advanced than others. The most advanced is the Hydrologic Systems area, led by Prof Azizan Abu Samah (University of Malaya) which is already developing a computer modeling to predict flooding in extreme weather events in situations (such as Danang) where the available data is incomplete.
The first SCC project workshop, which focused on its hydraulic modeling work, partially funded by UNESCAP, and by the workshop host, was held at the University of Malaya in 2009.
An early and important strategic decision taken by APRU-SCC was that it would work in close collaboration with cognate initiatives. The resultant growing set of collaborations, shown schematically in the diagram below, is now proving highly productive in amplifying the effectiveness of the SCC work.
APRU-SCC has also taken the strategic decision that work should not await 'big hit' funding, but rather, if good work is underway through a proved international collaboration around this important set of issues affecting millions of people, then that work will in due course attract major funding. At the same time we are building active collaborative working relations with major funding bodies, and are beginning to prepare funding proposals to assist our work.
Professor Jim Falk
Co-Director, APRU Sustainability and Climate Change Research Programme