Health, Equity and Ecosystems — Connected by Waterways
When we think of waterways as the bloodstream of the world, we are reminded that our health, communities, economies, and the entire natural world, are all connected by water. These connections lead to important questions, such as: How will climate change and economic transitions affect water resources? How will they affect our health and well-being? And how can we govern water resources to reflect their fundamental importance for the social, environmental and economic determinants of health?
Dr. Margot Parkes, Canada Research Chair in Health, Ecosystems and Society, is exploring these issues in her work on communities in northern British Columbia. Specifically, she is examining the relationship between ecosystem change and the determinants of health by looking at water resources management as a strategy to promote health and well-being. Her current research brings together organizations and researchers involved in health and water governance, particularly in the northern Fraser River Basin.
In the past, Parkes has studied watersheds and health in New Zealand, Ecuador, Hawaii and Canada, looking at how the management of droughts, floods, biodiversity and contamination has influenced health, from drinking water quality and food security, to resource-dependant livelihoods, local economies and cultural values.
Parkes’s research shows how knowledge from different disciplines, cultures and sectors can be better integrated to improve watershed management for health and sustainability. The results will provide practical guidance for integrating health and environmental decision-making in a rapidly changing world.