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UK

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Simon Watkins

The Conflict and Environment Observatory

A Chartered Landscape Architect and permaculture practitioner, Simon holds a Masters in Food Security Management from Coventry University, focusing on agroecological systems, his thesis examining the potential use of regenerative principles in planning for refugee camps. Subsequently visiting camps in northern Iraq, he worked with the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience to encode community-generated proposals for the natural remediation and use of kitchen waste water into a functional design, whose implementation saw improvements to the quality of discharged water and its onward use for food production and habitat creation.

Simon has recently joined the Re-Alliance network, partnering with Arup landscape architects to carry out a review of guidance on planning for displacement settlements and assessing the potential for the creation of a settlement design toolkit for grassroots displaced communities.

‘I started out in landscape architecture as a volunteer with Groundwork Birmingham and was quickly convinced of the centrality of both communities and nature as drivers for landscape design. I’ve taken this conviction through my career, seeking ways to engage people in the design of the spaces they will inhabit and to facilitate encounter and connection with the natural world. Drawing on an academic background in maths, physics and engineering, as well as my interest in permaculture and as a committed Quaker, I see both a huge potential and responsibility for landscape planning and design as tools in response to human crises.’

The Conflict and Environment Observatory charts the impact of military conflict on human and natural habitats, environmental resources and the global climate. Simon is the administrator, jointly responsible with the director and trustees for the sustainable governance of the organisation.

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