Too little, too much and too polluted: Compound chronic and acute water disasters in the Himalayan and Tibetan plateau region

Too little, too much and too polluted: Compound chronic and acute water disasters in the Himalayan and Tibetan plateau region

Wed, 11/12/2013 - 12:00

About the Presenter

Professor Robert Wasson

Professor Robert Wasson was Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and International at Charles Darwin University, Australia before moving to the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2011.

He has taught and researched at Sydney University, Macquarie University, University of Auckland, Monash University, and the Australian National University.

He was trained in geomorphology and his research interests are: long-term landscape change; causes of change in river catchments; environmental history; extreme hydrologic events in the tropics; and cross-disciplinary methods.

He has done research in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Myanmar and Thailand. He is currently a Principal Research Fellow in the Asia Research Institute at NUS and is examining flood risk in relation to climate change and human vulnerability over long periods in India and Thailand.


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The Himalayan and Tibetan region and adjacent plains are beset by numerous water-related disasters, both acute and chronic. They cascade and interact making them compound disasters. The interactions between threats, between threats and vulnerabilities, and between vulnerabilities occur from local to regional and even global scales.

In this seminar an analysis of this web of complexity is provided. This approach demonstrates the need to take a much broader than usual view to avoid unintended consequences of governance interventions, and to avoid worsening an already highly vulnerable situation. The challenges for governance of such a view are immense and there is currently no workable framework. Could such a large-scale framework provide the context within which all actors can play a part, including local communities, NGOs, governments, and experts?

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