by Hannah Smith

Limited water resources, weak states and ethnic tensions across Central Asia lead many analysts to believe that the region will bear witness to the world’s first war over water. Through drawing on fieldwork, this study takes the example of the geographically isolated village of Barak (a Kyrgyz exclave) to demonstrate how water resources are manipulated strategically at a local level. This has profound consequences for communities and presents clear violations of basic human rights. The internationally community must act at a micro level to ensure that water does not become another tool of war.

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by Andrew Robertson

Decarbonising the electricity sector has been identified as a short-term priority for cutting UK greenhouse gas emissions in response to the risks of climate change. The scale and rate of change in the electricity sector means that there is a strong need for energy research and a big potential for new research to influence policy. This article outlines examples of the areas where research is, or could be, particularly influential in policy making and uses them to demonstrate some of challenges policy makers face in using research to develop policy.

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by Michele Mastroeni

Regulation of science and technology is an important factor in how our technological landscape develops, and whether a technology makes it to the end-users. While ideally regulation will be based on
broadly accepted values and trusted scientific assessment, the reality is much more complicated. Just as different technologies spur intense debate in society, so too do regulatory systems and how they are constructed. Given the varying (often conflicting) interests in society, a regulatory system should be built on the values of transparency, and rigorous and equitable standards of evidence for all parties assessing a technology’s risks and benefits.

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by Tim Guilliams

Given the current economic climate it is important to maximise academic impact on society. Measures of academic impact have been dominated by the commercialisation of academic discoveries, thereby failing to capture the complete spectrum of academic activities that lead to societal impact. In fact, universities do not appear to act as a significant source of intellectual property and technology for private companies. It is therefore questionable to use commercialisation of academic discoveries as the main metric to measure impact. This
article highlights the importance of a broader view when assessing knowledge exchange between universities and other sectors and the measurement of academic impact on society, hoping to move beyond commercialisation.

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by Simon Damkjaer

The water resources community remains stuck in a futile debate of whether water constitutes a human right or a commodity, which is resolved through the content of General Comment 15: water constitutes a human right, which puts conditions on economic approaches to water and its commodification. Instead, it is time to
address the issue of globally adopted misrepresentative water scarcity metrics that misleadingly show increasing conditions of scarcity, which risks biasing the argument towards the commodification of water. Redefining these metrics to portray hydrologic realities, will more precisely inform the formulation of water policies and help advance solutions to global water problems.

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