Watch: River Futures

Revisit this seminar by Ms Lidia Cano Pecharroman, PhD candidate MIT and Mr Cyrille Vallet, PhD candidate, Universities of Geneva (Switzerland) and Lyon (France), who presented two perspectives on the role of law and regulation in shaping our future relationship with rivers in the USA and Europe. The seminar was held at the Law School on Wednesday 12 July 2023.

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The seminar discussed the river futures and the relationship between people and rivers. In the first half, Ms Pecharroman talked about flood adaptation in a time of climate extreme, examining a nationwide US flood adaptation program, and in the second half, Mr Vallet discussed setting up the agenda for recognition of the legal personhood on a transboundary river using an example of the Rhone.

Title: Flood adaptation in a time of climate extremes

Presented by Ms Lidia Cano Pecharroman, PhD candidate MIT

Abstract: Governments are racing to implement new climate change adaptation policies in order to prepare for the increasing damage and frequency of flooding events. In this rush, it is imperative to avoid implementing policies that perpetuate structural inequality and climate injustice. Policies must be evaluated not only for their effectiveness but also through a climate justice lens that considers the intersectionalities between climate and geo-demographics. In this work, we examine a nationwide US flood adaptation program, the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS), and evaluate how its impact on flood loss depends on the geo-demographics of a community. We conduct the first analysis of this kind by using a statistically powerful data set of 2.5 million flood insurance claims and a machine learning deep generative models based approach with neural density estimation to overcome quantitative challenges that prevented such analyses in the past. We find evidence that the CRS is effective at reducing flood losses overall. Moreover, we show that the efficacy of the CRS flood adaption activities depends significantly on geo-demographic characteristics, such as income, flood proneness, diversity and population. This work provides key insights for crafting and tailoring future flood adaptation policies to make them more effective and to ensure that their implementation advances climate justice.

Title: Setting up the agenda for the recognition of the legal personhood of a transboundary river

Presented by Mr Cyrille Vallet, PhD candidate, Universities of Geneva (Switzerland) and Lyon (France)

Abstract: The recognition of the legal personhood is a raising question in Europe, while it is under implementation in several parts of the world. On the Rhone River, the existing governance system has been established about a century ago, with different updates. The system reflects the importance of certain uses (hydroelectricity, transport, irrigation) over new uses (hobbies for examples). The discussion focuses on how new actors promote new uses and river governance. How do these actors organize the discourses to promote the solution of the recognition of the legal personhood for an improve governance, moreover at a transboundary scale?


About Ms Lidia Cano Pecharroman

Lidia Cano Pecharroman is a PhD Candidate at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning specializing on Environmental Policy Planning for extreme weather events and climate adaptation. As an attorney and policy analyst Cano’s work also encompasses natural resources management, stakeholder engagement, and conflict resolution. Lidia has published work on water security and management policy, human rights and environmental governance and the Rights of Nature amongst others. She is a UN Expert on Harmony with Nature. Previously Cano was a Legal and Policy Advisor at Climate, Law and Policy, an independent advisory organization that helps design, implement and sustain advances in environmental governance, she was also consultant and researcher providing research and analysis to governments, international organizations and the private sector. Along those lines she collaborated as an attorney and researcher with the UC Berkeley Center for the Law, Energy and Environment, Radon Law Offices, LSE and the Natural Resources and Governance Institute, but her research has also served different UN agencies and governments. Previously she was a Fulbright Scholar, a La Caixa Fellow and a Research Fellow for the Columbia University Women, Peace and Security program. Cano was recently awarded the Martin Family Society Fellowship for Sustainability. Lidia holds an MIA from Columbia University with a concentration on Energy and Natural Resources Management and a specialization on International Conflict Resolution, and a Masters on International Affairs and African Studies by Universidad Autonoma de Madrid with a visiting fellowship to New York University and a Law Degree by the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, she is a member of the Madrid Bar Association.

About Mr Cyrille Vallet

Cyrille Vallet has been working for more than 16 years as engineer & institutional expert across the water sector in low/middle revenue countries. Holding 2 Engineering Diplomas, Cyrille has been then involved in several international complex projects in South East Europe, South America and South East Asia. His expertise encompasses the implementation of EU Water Framework directive, strengthening institutions in charge of IWRM, negotiating transboundary water management, preparing financing agreements by international financing institutions. As ministerial water advisor, he prepared water sector reforms, including redaction of water laws (tariffs, norms, IWRM, policies and regulations). Cyrille is now doing a PhD at the Universities of Geneva (Switzerland) and Lyon (France).

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