Researcher Profile: Anna Kosovac

Decision-making within water governance

Tell us about your research

My research looks at decision-making within water governance, particularly from a risk point of view. I consider any biases that may be present, and also how risk perceptions interact with water management decisions. I provide guidance for government departments and risk managers on how to provide a more robust decision-making framework. I also look into the tension between layperson perceptions of water risks, compared to expert perceptions, providing risk communication options to encourage a unified approach.

My other area of research is in international water governance, and how cities interact with one another diplomatically to achieve global goals, such as the SDGs.

Come to me for: water policy, water governance, decision-making, risk assessments, social change, community interaction, UN SDGs, city diplomacy in water.

Why is this research important?

As public sector management involves often making decisions on behalf of many, the way that they are being made is of utmost importance to ensure a democratic community that is aligned with the decisions made by the government. Especially on the issue of an essential service: water.

What points of connection do you see between your research and that in other disciplines?

This research fits perfectly with other areas of research within water, such as engineering or law. While technology advances, so must the way that we interact with society at large. Technological changes bring with it cultural shifts, and to ensure the successful implementation of new practices, we must understand the underlying nature of community sentiment and any barriers that are present (most importantly, why). Law interacts well to bring together the concept of ‘rights’ of citizens when paired up with community sentiment and new water technologies.

What has been a highlight of your research to date?

My research is about using the best methods to not only generate new knowledge, but particularly to ensure this is translated into action. Policy-driven research that pushes for positive change is what my research centres upon. For this reason, I am incredibly glad to have directly contributed to Risk Assessment Policy Changes at Melbourne Water, as a direct result of my research findings.

Tell us about the U21 Water in Society workshop

I attended the U21 Water in Society workshop last year, which brought together early career researchers from all over the world to discuss the challenges in water and research. A huge take-away from the workshop was the lack of interdisciplinary work happening within water. Research currently being conducted is of a silo-ed nature, whether this be in engineering, climate science, social sciences or law, when there could be a significantly more robust approach to water research in integrating these areas. A goal of mine is to begin to foster some of these collaborations, which benefits not only research but also water management more generally.

You can find a list of Anna's current publications here.

Anna is a Research Fellow in International Urban Policy in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.