This week I had the honour to provide a global perspective on the local challenges of water, waste and climate change in Bath. Together with my colleague Stef Koop and many students of Utrecht University, more than 70 cities have been assessed across the globe, including Bath.
From 1 September 2017 until 1 September 2018 I was connected to the University of Bath as David Parkin Visiting Professor and as Global Chair. The Global Chair scheme, funded by the International Relations Office, is a flagship programme designed to attract distinguished, globally renowned scholars to engage in high-profile research activities. During this period my research objectives included the City Blueprint analysis of the city of Bath, participation in the Summer School, developing research proposals and bringing about further international collaboration with KWR, UNESCO and the University of Utrecht.
Cities globally are progressively becoming hotspots for risk and disaster mainly as a result of rapid urbanisation, population growth and the impacts of climate change. Any medical treatment starts after a proper diagnosis. When it comes to water management in cities, this is often not the case. For this reason, water management performance needs to be measured, as well as water governance capacity. The City Blueprint analysis consists of three frameworks: the Trends and Pressures Framework (TPF) researches the global urban challenges regarding social, environmental and financial pressures, the City Blueprint Framework (CBF) analyses the urban water management, and the Governance Capacity Framework (GCF) examines the water governance capacity of cities. Best results are obtained if co-benefits are explored with other sectoral challenges in cities.
Like many cities in Europe Bath produces a lot of solid waste. Points of attention for Bath are improved sewage treatment, infrastructure maintenance, increasing green space in the city, to better cope with urban floods. The David Parkin lecture was very well attended and received. The lecture and discussions confirmed that water is a top priority global challenge. Furthermore, we discussed follow-up activities, like further collaboration on water technology, water management, water governance and energy (hydrogen), and perhaps also plastic waste and water-related research in African cities.