Saturday, July 20, 2024

Sustainability leaders honoured with university awards 

A Canterbury academic committed to the protection of freshwater and marine ecosystems is one of three sustainability award winners at the University of Canterbury.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Macpherson (pictured), from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury’s Faculty of Law, has won the University’s Advancing Sustainability Research Award for her contribution to environmental and natural resources law, and her focus on addressing global environmental challenges.

She says it was “a real honour” to receive the award.

“I have spent more than 20 years advocating for legal and policy frameworks that better manage global environmental challenges surrounding the protection of freshwater and marine ecosystems, while upholding the rights and authority of Indigenous peoples.”

“This is not just a recognition of my research but of Indigenous peoples who are leading legal innovations on issues of sustainability both internationally and locally, and who have inspired and supported me along the way.”

Next year, Associate Professor Macpherson will begin a five-year, $800,000 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship funded by the Royal Society Te Apārangi to investigate legal frameworks supporting blue carbon futures in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research will be in partnership with Ngāi Tahu.

Her goal is to combine her research programme on freshwater and marine law and policy to drive global impact around the critical roles coastal wetlands and related communities can play in response to climate change.

Associate Professor Macpherson, who is Principal Investigator for the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge, recently won the New Zealand Legal Research Foundation Sir Ian Barker Published Article Award for 2022 for her article in the Journal of the Royal Society“Can Western water law become more ‘relational’? A survey of comparative laws affecting water across Australasia and the Americas”.

She is also an assistant investigator on a successful bid for the equivalent of NZD$850,000 from the Chilean National Research Agency for a project on collaborative water governance being led out of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.   

School of Forestry Associate Professor Justin Morgenroth is another University of Canterbury (UC) staff member recognised for his efforts to promote sustainability.

He has won the UC Advancing Sustainability Knowledge Award for his work over the past decade taking first-year Forestry students to the Pūharakekenui Styx River in Ōtautahi Christchurch to undertake restoration planting, in partnership with the Christchurch City Council.

Hundreds of UC students have planted thousands of trees during that time, with early plantings now reaching over six metres tall. The students are taught the practical aspects of planting trees to help ensure their survival and eventual contribution to a safe, sustainable, and resilient Ōtautahi.

In a third category, UC Ngāi Tahu Centre Senior Research FellowDr John Reid (Ngāti Pikiao, Tainui) won the Protecting Our Planet Award for his work to boost the health of UC’s waterways.  

Latest Articles