Scholar Profile - 2021 Winner

Elisa Blanco - Chile

Study: Water distribution for agricultural use to improve water security, decrease conflict situations and enable long-term sustainability

Elisa Blanco, from Valparaiso in Chile, receives a 2021 Nuffield International Scholarship supported by PSP Investments.

Elisa is currently completing a PhD and working as a researcher in the Agricultural Economics Department at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. There, she focuses almost exclusively on water issues, supporting research projects in a diverse range of basins and irrigation districts in Central Chile, with a particular emphasis on fruits and vineyards.

For her Nuffield study, Elisa will study water distribution for agricultural use to improve water security, decrease conflict situations and enable long-term sustainability for those dependent on water.

Elisa sees institutional, technological, financial and transparency issues with self-managed institutions overseeing water distribution and sees relevance in the topic, given current climate change scenarios.

"I believe that although ongoing technological improvements are key, overall improved management is synonymous with the need to distribute water in a more sustainable and integrated manner," she says.

"I will review different irrigation district schemes, for example, considering not only surface, but groundwater regimes as well. I will use the opportunity to study these water schemes and the associations that run them in other countries in to compare these with the current system in Chile. This will be done with particular emphasis on conflict resolution and coordination regimes, technological advances, information devices used and financial strategies for the distribution of water.

"By studying and developing tools to better distribute water among farmers, cities, industrial and environmental uses, I am confident that the whole aquifer will gain long-term sustainability".

Elisa has a Masters Degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. She is also a consultant at the Water Unit of the Natural Resources Department at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and until recently was the coordinator and researcher at the Water Law and Management Center of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.

This scholarship provides Elisa with an opportunity to understand different irrigation districts and other forms of water businesses globally. She will use this knowledge to develop practical tools to help with the distribution and management of water in a sustainable way among different users in Chile.

The Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) is one of Canada's largest pension investment managers with C$169.8 billion worth of net assets under management as of March 31, 2020. It manages a diversified global portfolio composed of investments in public financial markets, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, private debt - and is a leading global investor in agriculture and timber through its Natural Resources group. The Natural Resources team focuses on partnering with best-in-class local operators committed to sustainability, employee health and safety, and being positive long-term contributors to their communities.

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