Canmore, Alberta

United Nations University Hub at UCalgary

Empowering Communities to Adapt to Environmental Change 

The United Nations University (UNU) Hub at UCalgary on Empowering Communities to Adapt to Environmental Change is the world’s first UNU Hub, created in partnership with the UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH). It is the first Hub to be created by the UNU, a global think tank and part of the UN family of organizations.

The UNU Hub will collaborate with UNU-INWEH to develop the scientific understanding, solutions, and skilled workforce required to mitigate and adapt to climate threats that affect ecosystems, economies, personal safety, and ways of life around the world. 

The Hub’s research and training activities will address the challenges of environmental change, paired with outreach to advance policy-relevant university research. It will develop collaborative programs for UCalgary researchers and students seeking opportunities that are impactful and relevant to global practice and policy.  

The Hub’s reach will be global, with outcomes that are accessible and applicable beyond Canada, extending to the Global South. 

Research Clusters

The Hub will have four research clusters led by world-class scholars, collaborating to bring their expertise to bear on four essential areas of water studies. The clusters will build on UCalgary’s institutional capacity and infrastructure in these areas.  

Understanding changes in aquatic ecosystems

Innovating enhanced surveillance and diagnostic systems for tracking and reporting on the condition of regional water resources to understand threats from the cumulative effects of climate variability and extremes, development and changing water resources. 

Led by Dr. Kelly Munkittrick, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, and Campus Alberta Innovation Program Chair in Aquatic Ecosystem Health 

Evaluating risks of infectious diseases in a changing climate

Evaluating how human, animal, and ecosystem interactions in a changing climate are resulting in the emergence and re-emergence of diseases and compromising the effectiveness of human and animal health responses to infectious disease outbreaks.  

Led by Dr. Herman Barkema, Professor in Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine’s (UCVM) and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Infectious Diseases 

Environmental predictions for water sustainability

Improving water management by creating advanced environmental prediction tools and systems aimed at establishing long-term adaptive water supply and demand management strategies and assessing options to achieve long-term water security.  

Led by Dr. Martyn Clark, a Professor of Hydrology in the Department of Civil Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering, and Schulich Research Chair in Environmental Prediction. 

Building resilience in Indigenous communities

Improving communities through leading innovations in new community-based participatory approaches and integrated watershed management frameworks that are inclusive of multiple knowledge systems and address water equity and equality. 

Led by Dr. Deborah McGregor, incoming Canada Excellence Research Chair in Indigenous Ways of Climate and Water Sustainability for Planetary Health and Well-being. 

UNU Rector Visit

Read the story

UCalgary to be named home of world’s 1st United Nations University Hub focused on water

From left: Alexandra Bugailiskis, Andre Buret, Marjan Eggermont, Tshilidzi Marwala, Kaveh Madani, Martyn Clark.

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Training and capacity sharing

The UNU Hub will create training and empowerment opportunities for those students with an interest in addressing water, environmental, health, climate, and sustainability challenges through working for intergovernmental and non-profit organizations. 

The educational opportunities that are being developed include:  

  • Interdisciplinary graduate certificates in water and sustainable development  
  • Joint graduate degree programs with UNU-INWEH 
  • UN internships and international assignments abroad 
  • Summer training institute, an intensive two-week transdisciplinary course focusing on challenges in building resilience to environmental change

Group of people by a river


Central to the success of the UNU Hub is to amplify the hub’s research and innovation outputs. These activities will integrate, translate, and mobilize knowledge from our collective academic efforts to increase the uptake and effectiveness of solutions to the grand challenges of global sustainability and climate change. 

These outreach efforts will be accomplished through community engaged scholarship, knowledge mobilization activities, and integration with other global organizations. 


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