Recently, N-EWN researchers studying the role of natural infrastructure in addressing inequity in water resources presented their work at the 2021 Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Annual Meeting. See the recorded talk below!
Presentation Title: The Use of Nature-Based Solutions to Address Inequities within Water Resources Projects
Authors: Seigerman, Cydney K., Biesel, Shelly A., and Nelson, Donald R. (UGA), Mckay, Kyle and Piercy, Candice
Abstract: Equity and sustainability are intimately linked. However, the unequal distribution of risks and benefits associated with traditional hydrological infrastructure undermine long-term adaptation success and the well-being of historically marginalized groups. Nature-based solutions (NBS) present novel opportunities for rethinking society-infrastructure relationships. Many project designers are willing to incorporate equity considerations, yet there is little guidance on how this can be done. We present the outcomes from an ongoing collaboration between anthropologists and US Army Corps engineers to facilitate the meaningful inclusion of social equity into flood risk management planning through NBS.
From the Q&A Chat Box
Q: “I’d love to find out more about your partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, as a part of NEWN. Did the Army Corps approach you for input from your Lab? What kind of concrete steps are planned so they will incorporate equity into their infrastructure projects?”
A: (Shelly responded with insights from Kyle and Don): (From Kyle) The USACE has been developing the concept of Engineering with Nature for more than a decade (https://ewn.el.erdc.dren.mil/). Congressional support for the topic led to seed funding for the USACE to expand this research, and UGA applied to be a central partner in the effort. The joint UGA-USACE team identified four focal areas to advance the use of nature-based solutions: (1) developing methods and standards, (2) assessing benefits and costs, (3) monitoring performance and outcomes, and (4) integrating people and policy. Under the fourth topic, a team identified the importance of operationalizing equity in infrastructure planning, and our lab groups began partnering on this project. Recommendations from our work will be presented to USACE leaders and policy makers. We anticipate that some topics will involve small-scale changes to how current policies.
(From Don) Lab personnel at UGA are also part of the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems at UGA https://www.iris.uga.edu/. It is an interdisciplinary group that thinks about infrastructure with built, natural, and social aspects – with a particular focus on nature based solutions. The work done by folks at IRIS is a good match to the goals of ERDC and the partnership slowly emerged over the last 2 years and culminated in the funding and research avenues highlighted by Kyle.
Information on the Annual Meeting
2021 Virtual Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting
March 18-19 and 22-27, 2021
“Welcome to the 81st annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, its first ever all-virtual meeting. The meeting theme of Linking Social, Cultural and Physical Ecologies encompasses a wide range of critically important issues for social science in these times, including the COVID-19 pandemic, racial and social justice, health equity, climate change, natural and human-made disasters. At a time when travel is difficult and connection is so important, the virtual format enables wide participation from social scientists around the globe.”
Welcome letter from Mark Edberg, PhD, MA (Program Chair)