Ms. Sowmya Shah


My Experience as Researcher with GWCN

I am really excited to take this opportunity to write about my amazing experience working with the Global Waste Cleaning Network (GWCN) for the past few months.

I am an environmental scientist, having recently completed my Masters’ degree in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom (UK). I have always maintained a strong interest in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Over the years I have conducted many EIA studies across the UK and Kenya through fieldtrips and internships at large organisations where I led screening and scoping studies. I have consulted with multi-disciplinary teams to deliver an Environmental Management Plans (EMP) and prepare several Environmental Management System (EMS) audit reports for a plethora of projects. Furthermore, I have also undertaken pioneering international research examining the extent to which Kenyan legislated Impact Assessment (IA) processes align with delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on the environmental advocacy of EIA across different geographies.

Alongside this, I have specialized in 3D-modelling of environmental data using GIS (ArcMap), where using the technical skills, I addressed a research gap in determining saltmarsh rehabilitation zones along the North Norfolk coastline, UK in preparation for a predicted 2.5m sea level rise as well as further investigating the role of two Remote Sensing systems (LANDSAT 7 ETM+ and ASTER) in visual representation of Mt. Etna, Italy by spatial mapping of secondary data. Furthermore, I have a keen interest in Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services where I practiced application of the cost-benefit analysis on environmental issues using key non-market valuation techniques to valuate ecosystem services and applied the concept to my dissertation research project where I determined the economic advantages of using an Integrated Constructed Wetland (ICW) to treat sewage effluent. I have also carried out critical analysis of the decision-making and policy forming techniques used by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); writing an award-winning blog on the same.

After completing my degree in September 2020, I became keen on connecting with individuals in my areas of interest and wanted to share my knowledge globally. I had always wanted to do some volunteering work with an international organisation and use my excellent research and communication skills to benefit a wider audience, especially during the ongoing pandemic. I was introduced to GWCN through an online volunteering platform where I applied to be a researcher and was incredibly excited to have been successful in the same! Immediately I was very impressed with the inclusivity and clear communication from my supervisors and was thrilled to be paired with some of the most innovative individuals in the environmental field from the world over! I was constantly motivated to give my best and frequent virtual meetings with my supervisors provided me invaluable support for my publications.

One of the best parts of my close association with GWCN was the ability to conduct and write my own scientific articles, which after being vetted, were published on the GWCN website. This was excellent more so because of the global links GWCN has with environmental research organisations and NGOs and my published research was immediately being shared with my peers across the world. I gained some incredible feedback and a chance to view my own work through many different perspectives. Furthermore, I was very blessed to have been part of the research summit in February 2021 as one of the 11 speakers and was able to present my current research globally. The exposure and networking I have gained from GWCN is second to none.

Overall, I am very grateful to have had an opportunity to create new connections and continue to foster global research relationships. Personally, I am looking forward to doing some incredible things with my association to GWCN and will definitely continue to motivate many of my peers to join such an excellent organisation. Thank you GWCN!