May 22, 2017

Scoping a report card for the Yangtze River basin, China.

In April I travelled to China with Michele Thieme and Judy Takats from the World Wildlife Fund U.S. (WWF). The trip was planned to discuss with WWF China whether our report card process would work within the Chinese context. It was my first trip to China, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I discovered was a truly different, yet amazing country with friendly people, great food and amazing sights (I’ll talk more about my trip to the Three Gorges Dam in a following blog).

Our workshop was in Wuhan, located at the confluence of the Hanshui and Yangtze Rivers, in  the Hubei province. The city of 10 million people is located almost equal distances from Hong Kong to the south, Shanghai to the east, and Beijing to the north. As such the city is a major transportation hub and has been referred to as the “Chicago of China”.

Wuhan is located along the central part of the Yangtze River. Image credit: google.

Our workshop was held over two days, the first being with 20 internal WWF staff, the second including another 15 local stakeholders from the Three Gorges Corporation, Chinese Sturgeon Institute, China Institute of Water Resources, Pearl River Fisheries Research Institute, Changjiang Water Resources Commission, and the Co-Innovation Center for Social Governance of Urban and Rural Communities in Hubei Province.

On day 1, Michele discussed the Basin Report Card Initiative and our current theory of change, while I took the participants through the 5-step report card process. Everyone particularly enjoyed my example of “visiting the doctor” as an example of the theory behind choosing indicators and determining thresholds.

Choosing report card indicators and threshold is analogous to human health measurements. Image Credit: Simon Costanzo

We had excellent discussions about if/how the 5-step process would work in China. One example of this discussion focused on the color grading scheme we use for our A-F scores. Perhaps you can see below why the use of yellow and red to represent moderate to failing grades might not resonate so well in China. But overall, the group agreed that the report card was an excellent tool that would be very useful in China.

Our use of colors came up as a potential issue for report cards in China. image credit: IAN and google.

Day 2 started with introducing the concept of report cards to the newly arrived stakeholders via the report card game which is always a lot of fun and a great icebreaker.

Report card game is a great icebreaker. Image Credit: Simon Costanzo

The remainder of the day was spent introducing the new participants to the report card process and dividing them into groups to develop a report card for the imaginary “Yongzee River”. This involved fulfilling all 5 steps of the report card process, from identifying values and threats to presenting the report card at the end of the day. It was as great exercise and experience for all….especially me.

Identifying value and threats as part of Step 1 of the report card process. Image credit: Simon Costanzo

The imaginary Yongzee River Report Card. Image credit: Simon Costanzo

We finished the workshop discussing the possibility of doing a report card in China. The consensus was that we should start with one as an example and use that to leverage a more broader assessment. The group nominated some tributaries of the Yangtze that would be suitable and welcoming of a report card. Now it’s over to the WWF China team to socialize the idea in those basins and hopefully we’ll return soon to do the real thing.

Participants at the workshop in Wuhan. Image credit: Simon Costanzo

 

 

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About the author
Simon is a science integrator with IAN. He has a PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Queensland, Australia. Simon's scientific interests include water quality, toxicology and science communication.
Website: http://ian.umces.edu/people/Simon_Costanzo/
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Filed under: Environmental Report Cards — Tags: , , , — Simon Costanzo @ 10:50 am

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