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Collaboration for Improved Water Management

"As water modellers, how do we capture the whole picture?" and "What are the fundamentals of effective collaboration?" These were the underlying question posed on Thursday 28 November 2021, at QWMN's online event, on collaboration.

After a quick welcome to all participants and Acknowledgement of Country by our host Piet Filet, Tony Weber of Alluvium Consulting opened discussions with an exploration of the benefits of collaboration for water modellers. In his opening remarks, Tony spoke from his wisdom of experience, describing some of the features of science, water modelling and user collaboration he has encountered, reminding us all that collaboration requires time to listen, participate and continue to share, to foster expertise and knowledge.

Tony also highlighted some benefits he has personal observed working in collaboration with the wider-community, including the overwhelming value of having a better defined problem through the diversity of expertise.

Our guest speaker, Fiona George of Terrain NRM, walked us through some of her experience working with the Wet Tropics Major Integration Project (MIP). To meet the project’s complex set of objectives devised through consultation, the MIP required a fully tailored, integrated, grassroots approach. Walking the talk led to strengthened stakeholder engagement with 133 farmers (representing 28,656 hectares) participating in the project over three or four years. Landowner feedback has been encouraging with, 84% of growers in Johnstone saying their beliefs about WQ had changed, and 64% scoring the 6/10 for motivation to change.

By providing a “we care” approach, Fiona and her team have realised coalescing benefits among the wider-community that reach far beyond initial project objectives. You can view Fiona’s presentation by clicking HERE

A QWMN event on collaboration would be incomplete without our own collaborative activity. The image below is the outcome of a group reflection and discussion on our collective experience with collaboration. We posed two questions: What types of collaboration have worked well?, and what prevents effective collaboration?

Highlights from the collective experience of what works:

  • There is a fundamental need to listen to understand.
  • Be open minded; don’t approach as the “expert”.
  • Make time to build and maintain relationships.
  • Tailor your approach and ensure there are benefits for all.
  • It’s critically important to identify shared value through consultation.

So what prevents effective collaboration? Participants suggest:

  • Poor communication – not ensuring information is digestible to all stakeholders.
  • Being closed-minded – deciding how something will go before consultation.
  • Lack of diversity, budget, or consultation.

To view the details of the Jamboard click here

Thank you to Fiona and Tony for their fantastic presentations, and to all our participants for sharing from your wealth of knowledge and experience on how collaboration achieves real-world results for water management. From the QWMN 3CP team, Piet Filet, Brian McIntosh and myself, Sarah Cochrane.

View the full recording HEREĀ (Please note, between 42 mins and 58 mins there is a long pause, so just skip ahead).

Photographs provided by Terrain NRM.

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