AGU H3S believes that diverse voices should come together to create a more comprehensive and engaging sharing space of knowledge and experiences. This message was complemented by Kevin Boehmer, the Managing Director of the Water Institute, who added that “[Having diverse voices] is not only the “right and necessary” thing to do, but provides fresh, important perspectives influenced by different lived experiences. All experiences need to be respected and shared for truly comprehensive and sustainable solutions”.
In 2020, the Water Institute turned to the WaterPOC database to facilitate the representative selection of researchers for their monthly Water Talks. Speaking as one of the Water Institute’s representatives, Kevin commented on the need for the Water Institute to consult this new resource in order to achieve the institute’s goals. Boehmer said, “Over the past number of years, the Water Institute has made a conscious effort to promote diversity in our events, for example, speakers for our guest lectures or participants in our panels. In the early years, the focus was primarily on gender diversity. In more recent years, we have made an effort to invite more Indigenous participants. In the future, a concerted effort will be made to invite more Indigenous, Black, and other researchers of color to participate in our events”, in which WaterPOC will serve as a direct speakers search tool. He added that, “[The institute] loves the concept, the respect, and that the database is a “living document” that is easy to search, sort, and navigate.”
The Water Institute has consulted WaterPOC a number of times in 2020 when designing their annual programming, for ideas on who to invite, and they have plans to use it for the coming 2021-2022 programming. Kevin acknowledges the tremendous value of having diverse voices in water research and emphasized the importance of diverse perspectives and experiences for truly comprehensive solutions. Kevin also added that there is still room for improvement, which we at AGU H3S will be working on. He mentioned that “early [WaterPOC] entrants [were] biased towards physical sciences. Perhaps, [this is an] opportunity to [not only] invite more researchers from the social sciences [but also] broaden geographies”.
We have now a growing list of professionals from diverse groups and backgrounds that study the same topic: Water. A curated list of water professionals, such as the WaterPOC, helps facilitate connections between researchers, improving the representation of the voices contributing to the conversation about complex water issues.
AGU-H3S embraces AJEDI (Accessibility, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and is maintaining the WaterPOC database (see it here!). Help us make sure we are hearing diverse voices and broadening geographies in water studies. If you identify as part of a racialized group in the water research field, you can include yourself in the WaterPOC list here.
by Lorrayne Miralha.