River Management Young Achievers Award
|Sponsored by:||Managed by:|
Proudly sponsored by Thiess and managed by the International WaterCentre Alumni Network (IWCAN), this important initiative identifies and rewards individuals under 35 who have demonstrated innovation and excellence in river and waterways management.
To recognise the importance of this award, the winner receives AU$3,000 with each of the runners up receiving AU$250. Each of the finalists have the opportunity to present their work at the International Riversymposium each year.
This year the award will be dedicated to Dr Peter Oliver. Teacher, social scientist, scholar, researcher, activist, pioneer, visionary, mentor, friend . He was a man who walked, talked and breathed his vision of true integrated water management. Find out more about the inspiring life and work of Dr Peter Oliver.
Congratulations to the 2013 RMYAA winner Kathy Hughes and to the finalists James Patterson and Candra Samekto!
|RMYAA winner Kathy Hughes|
|RMYAA finalist Candra Samekto|
|RMYAA finalist James Patterson|
Kathy Hughes (Freshwater Programme Officer, WWF-UK)
Managing Rivers Together; For Ecosystem Functioning, Ecosystem Services and Society
My inspiration to preserve the natural world was borne whilst watching the documentaries of Sir David Attenborough as a child. I found a framework for this passion during the four years I spent studying for my B.Sc. in Zoology at the University of Leeds, and it was here that I fell in love with all-things-aquatic; I was inspired by the diverse behavioural ecology of fish, and disappointed that the global decline in otters was an indicator for the poor health of the world’s wetlands.
In 2011, I started in my current role of Freshwater Programme Officer at WWF-UK. In this role I am responsible for managing two river catchments and deciding priorities for each with our local partners. My objective is to implement a catchment scale approach which encourages all stakeholders to participate in catchment management. Over the last 18 months this approach has resulted in progress towards the achievement of good ecological status. In addition to managing these two catchments, I also work with Government to achieve greater implementation of the Water Framework Directive and I work with civil society to increase their capacity to carry out catchment management activities. This role has enabled me to utilise the practical experience I have gained in my career to date to promote a holistic and inclusive approach to managing catchments that brings everyone together.
I was really excited when I heard about the River Manager Young Achievers Award. The Award is a unique initiative that recognises young achievers that have demonstrated innovation and excellence in river management. Its aim is to build capacity, share knowledge and support career growth by building networks with river experts from across the world.
In August I found out that I was a finalist for the Award and was invited to attend the 2013 Riversymposium in Brisbane to present my paper about a ‘catchment scale approach’ to improving rivers and attend a question and answer session with the panel judges. I had to pinch myself – I was going to Australia, to the International Riversymposium and my paper had been peer reviewed and valued by a judging panel eminent in the field of river management – to me, I already felt like a winner!
The 2013 Riversymposium itself was an impressive event and was attended by influential river experts from across the world. I learnt about the successes and challenges that others had faced and drew parallels to my work that I hope will help me overcome barriers and achieve greater success. Stand out moments included the keynote speeches of Dr Robert Constanza and Stuart Orr, learning that Australian fish don’t jump (thanks to Fin Martin), making links with the team that work on the Glenelg River and learning about the value of bull sharks (thanks to Karen Delfau).
The evening of the Awards was a highly glamorous affair; I had to abandon my usual field work clothes and put on a posh frock! I spent time with the other two finalists; Candra Samekto and James Patterson. They had submitted impressive papers and videos and we had lots of lessons and experiences to share. I was also able to meet last year’s winner, Celine Steinfeld, with whom I plan to work with in the year to come.
I’m now back in the UK and back to my normal life, but with a new determination to improve the ecological health of British rivers. My team and the partners that I work with were really excited that I won this Award because it recognises what we have achieved so far and verifies our approach. And now we are not on our own – we can draw on the experience of global experts.
I feel very privileged to have won the River Manager Young Achiever Award and I would like to thank the International WaterCentre Alumni for managing this award and to Theiss for supporting it; it really is a unique opportunity.