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OWOW Center takes local water conversation global

MSU Denver and Denver Botanic Gardens join United Nations’ water-stewardship think tank.

By Lindsey Coulter

July 24, 2018

Photo of water pouring into handsA local partnership between MSU Denver and Denver Botanic Gardens will soon have a global impact.

The One World One Water Center, developed by Metropolitan State University of Denver to raise awareness of water and environmental issues, was recently invited to join the United Nations’ Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture. The invitation followed a recent meeting with the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome, during which OWOW Center Co-directors Jennifer Riley-Chetwynd and Tom Cech shared the mission of the center and brainstormed potential collaborations.

WASAG is a collective of organizations seeking more sustainable agricultural water-use methods to combat climate change, increase food security and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s goal on eliminating hunger. The group already counts numerous universities and international organizations among its more than 50 members, including Texas A&M Agrilife Research, World Water Council, McGill University and Women for Water Partnership; however, the OWOW Center will add a dynamic perspective because of its unique partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens.

The center will be the first Colorado-based organization to add its voice to the global water-scarcity conversation as well as the first botanical-gardens cultural/scientific organization and the first university representing a truly urban student population.

Cech noted that involvement in this elite global community of water researchers will open up new opportunities for joint research and collaboration with the FAO, Denver Botanic Gardens scientific staff and other national and international partners.

“We are certainly honored to be a member of the United Nations’ efforts, and this speaks highly of MSU Denver’s growing international education role,” Cech said. “It’s very exciting.”

Riley-Chetwynd was equally pleased and has already developed new and engaging ways for students to benefit from the OWOW Center’s WASAG membership. She and Nona Shipman, assistant director of the OWOW Center, are leading a study-abroad class to Italy in November to look at ancient and modern-day water-management systems in Perugia and Rome and to compare them with Colorado’s water-resource challenges.

The class is open to some faculty and staff as well, and those interested can contact Riley-Chetwynd at for more information.


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