SA ecologist wins big in Stockholm

Friday, March 22, 2019

South African born aquatic ecologist Dr Jackie King has been named the 2019 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for her game-changing contributions to global river management.

Her work has advanced the scientific understanding of water flows, giving decision-makers methods and tools to assess the full range of costs and benefits when managing or developing river systems, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said on Tuesday.

In a media statement, SIWI said King led the early development of the methods as a researcher at the University of Cape Town, funded by South Africa’s Water Research Commission.

Later, King and colleagues created ecosystem models to demonstrate the ecological and social implications of damming and de-watering rivers.

“This has enabled objective assessment of the costs of water-resource developments that could emerge linked to benefits such as hydropower and irrigated crops,” the institute said.

Reacting to news of her prize-winning, King said it is humbling, energizing and very rewarding.

“I am delighted that the silent voices of river systems and their dependent people are increasingly being acknowledged.

“We all lose if rivers become severely degraded due to poorly-informed development and management. It does not have to be like that,” King said.

Her early work influenced South Africa’s 1998 National Water Act and is increasingly guiding governments and institutions across the globe.

First as a researcher and later as a consultant, she has worked in more than 20 countries and with governments of the Mekong, Zambezi, Indus and Okavango River Basins, among others.

King’s work has been recognised with both the Gold and Silver Medals from the Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists and with South Africa’s “Women in Water” Award in the research category. She was also the 2016 recipient of WWF-South Africa’s Living Planet Award.

The 2019 Stockholm Water Prize will be presented to King at a Royal Award Ceremony on 28 August, during World Water Week in Stockholm.

The Stockholm Water Prize, presented annually since 1991, is the world’s most prestigious water award and honours women, men and organizations who have made extraordinary water-related achievements. –