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River flow pioneer Dr Jackie King wins 2019 Stockholm Water Prize

In Sweden, Dr Jackie King received the 2019 Stockholm Water Prize on her pioneering research on water flows. Her work has led to a new kind of tools to help decision-makers assess actual costs and benefits of alterations to rivers. The prize was presented to Dr King by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Patron of Stockholm Water Prize, at a Royal Award Ceremony during World Water Week in Stockholm.

Dr Jackie King receiving the 2019 Stockholm Water Prize for her pioneering research on water flows. Her work has led to a new kind of tools to help decision-makers assess actual costs and benefits of alterations to rivers. The prize was presented to Dr King by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Patron of Stockholm Water Prize, at a Royal Award Ceremony on August 28, 2019,  during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden (photo courtesy Jonas Borg).

When congratulating the laureate, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, praised Dr King’s ground-breaking research on river ecosystems and the social structures depending on healthy rivers, adding that “this is an important contribution to one of the great global water challenges of our time.”

On receiving the Prize, Dr King commented that the award “shines a light on African rivers and African science and through me recognizes all African scientists. They stand by me tonight as none of us works alone.”

Dr Jackie King is an aquatic ecologist who co-founded the Freshwater Research Unit at the University of Cape Town where she was active for almost four decades. She became influential in the recently established field of Environmental Flows, initially focusing on South African rivers.

She has advanced the scientific understanding of water flows and developed tools and methods to assess the full range of costs and benefits when managing or developing river systems. She began developing her models as a researcher at the University of Cape Town, funded by South Africa’s Water Research Commission and influenced South Africa’s 1998 National Water Act.

Well recognized work

Today her work is increasingly guiding governments and institutions across the globe and Dr King has worked as a researcher and consultant in more than 20 countries and with governments of the Mekong, Zambezi, Indus and Okavango River Basins, among others. In addition to her consultancy work, Dr Jackie King is Extraordinary Professor at the Institute for Water Studies, University of the Western Cape.

Dr King’s work has been recognized 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”.  Her academic work includes over 100 refereed items in books, international journals, and conference proceedings.

In its citation, the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee noted that “Dr Jacqueline King has, through scientific rigour, selfless dedication and effective advocacy, transformed the way we think, talk and work with water as a flow of and for life.”

Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of SIWI, emphasized the importance of bridging the gap between science and policy.

Dr King’s research has provided tools for decision-makers to enable them to consider the benefits and costs around the management of river systems. Thanks to this new level of detail, governments can now make more informed choices on how they proceed with developing their water resources, Holmgren said.

About Stockholm Water Prize

The Stockholm Water Prize is the world’s most prestigious water award. It honours women, men, and organizations whose work contributes to the conservation and protection of water resources, and to the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. All nominations are reviewed by the world-leading experts of the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee. Thereafter the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences makes the final decision which is confirmed by the Board of SIWI. H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is the Patron of the prize.

Stockholm International Water Insitute (SIWI) is an international water institute working to solve global water challenges by improving how water is used and managed. SIWI organizes World Water Week – the leading annual event on global water issues – and the Stockholm Water Prize and Stockholm Junior Water Prize, which are awarded during World Water Week.

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