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Walker Update 21st March 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022

Dear Colleagues,
Welcome to the first Walker Update of 2022, bringing you up to speed with the latest developments from the Walker Institute and the wider climate science field. We’ve been busy with projects, building collaborative relationships and communicating our research - read on to find out more!
Research in action
We have contributed to the OECD report on Managing Climate Risks, Facing up to Losses and Damages.  The report includes a Walker case study that examines approaches to decision-making under uncertainty, focusing on the agricultural sector in Uganda and the drivers of climate risks (hazards, exposure and vulnerability) to livelihoods and wellbeing. Read more about this on our blog here.
We have just published on Adaptation planning: an integrated approach to understanding vulnerability in the Victoria basinWe studied two communities in the Lake Victoria Basin in Uganda and in Kenya through a multi-disciplinary rural livelihoods approach. This recognises that the climate emergency is one of many factors impacting people’s ability to maintain and improve their livelihoods. The work provides policy and decision makers with the information they need to reduce vulnerability, enhance resilience and respond to multiple hazards. Find out more in our blog here.
Capacity building -  Walker Academy
Our first courses of 2022 took place in February. ALiVE (Assessing Livelihood Vulnerability to Extreme Shocks) is an incremental training course focused on the Household Economy Approach (HEA), that can be used to support data collection to improve understanding of community risk to climate shocks. We have also held a lively Future Food Systems Immersive Game for Food Biosystems Doctoral Training Partnership students.

New University of Reading MSc Course
The Climate Change and Artificial Intelligence MSc starting later this year will include a complementary combination of disciplines - drawing expertise from the Department of Meteorology, Department of Computer Science, the Walker Institute and the triple-accredited Henley Business School – to offer the first, and currently only, postgraduate course of its kind in the UK.
International engagement
Walker PhD students Chloe Brimicombe (software for heat stress and thermal comfort) and Faith Mitheu (community-led approaches to improving early warning systems and preparedness for flood risk) have had papers accepted for the European Geosciences Union EGU General Assembly in Vienna in May 2022. The event provides a forum for scientists, especially early career scientists, to present their work and discuss their ideas with experts in all fields of geoscience.
Building Partnerships
We are excited to announce that the Walker Institute is partnering as a regional hub with the recently established World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) My Climate Risk Lighthouse Activity.  WCRP’s goal is to develop and mainstream a ‘bottom-up’ approach to regional climate risk, starting with the requirements of decision-makers. By developing a new framework for assessing and explaining regional climate risk using all the available sources of climate information (observations, reanalyses, model simulations, better understanding, etc.), climate information will be made meaningful at the local scale. Get involved: the My Climate Risk Scientific Steering Group is seeking nominees for membership.

Professor Rosalind Cornforth and Pen Cabot worked with stakeholders including the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) at a workshop last month on scaling agri-insurance.  This invitation-only event gathered a select global group to identify partnership opportunities and create a concrete action plan to scale up agricultural insurance and its positive impact on smallholder farmer resilience. This will include improving the global understanding of farmers’ risks, the requirements to create an enabling environment, and the role of technology and innovation. We look forward to further developing this collaboration.

Team news
We wish Dr Luisa Campi all the best in her new role at the University of Cambridge in the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre in the Faculty of Education. In our blog here, she reflects on her time with Walker and what she takes to her new position. 

Dr Harley Pope has taken on Dr Luisa Campi’s role as Research Fellow and Walker Academy coordinator. We are also delighted to have bolstered our core operational team with two new members: Marah McGuire, our new Operations Support Officer, provides administrative support to our Director and wider Walker Institute team, and Konstantina Pratta joins us a Walker Academy Support Coordinator.

Coming up:
University of Reading Bridging Worlds: Sustainable Agriculture Conference at the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development 31 March – 1 April. Register here. On agriculture, agri-science, agri-innovation, climate change, climate justice, sustainability, trade and development, sustainable irrigation, and water resource management, with a focus on representing voices from the Global South.

Royal Society IPCC Meeting: 11-12 April Climate change: science, responses, and research needs - conference to reflect on the implications of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report for the UK, and urgent policy and research needs. Book here to attend for free: online or in person.

International Conference on Groundwater and Sustainable Development Goals, Paris, 18 – 20 May by CFH, UNESCO, FWP, IHP. Register here

What happened across the world this week?
Please click on this link to access the Global Hazards Weekly Bulletin produced by Prof Virginia Murray and her team at PHE, and archived by Prof Richard Allan. It contains a weekly summary of global hazards, including recent developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The previous bulletin can be found here.

All the best!
The Walker Institute Team