Laurie Barwell (Coastal and Rural Infrastructure Engineer) holds a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Stellenbosch and has over 38 years of experience in civil engineering (water, sanitation and coastal infrastructure), Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) and Environmental Impact Assessments projects. He worked for the South African Department of Water Affairs (from 1979 to 1985) gaining experience in the planning, design and construction of large integrated water supply schemes at a national level. From 1986 to 2014 he worked for South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as a Coastal Engineer, participating in research and implementation projects related to the design, construction and management of regional (SADC), national, provincial and municipal coastal infrastructure.
During the period January 2009 to July 2012 Mr Barwell was the co-principal investigator on an international multi-disciplinary specialist team that developed the coastal infrastructure protection specialist report as part of the Mozambique Climate Change Adaptation and Response strategy. The learnings from this project enabled the CSIR to carry out a strategic assessment of the risk and vulnerability of infrastructure (e.g roads, pipelines, electricity supply, pumping stations, and port infrastructure) to climate change on the South African coast, and in particular, the South African National Ports in 2014 and 2015 where Mr Barwell was the lead author. In 2011, Mr Barwell led the development of the strategy and implementation plan for the CSIR Water Sustainability Flagship programme. This resulted in the development of novel fit-for-purpose technologies for domestic water supply (including rainwater harvesting), and algal-based domestic waste water treatment.
He authored the Book Chapter on State of the WIOC Coast: Coastal mining and its influence on coastline stability which was published by UNEP in 2015. This enabled him to gain insight into the key issues related to the coastlines of Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa, and especially relating to the risk and vulnerability of these areas in the context of climate change. Mr Barwell’s current focus is on formulating adaptation responses to climate change (specifically sea level rise along the coast), nature-based water treatment systems and in particular the application of ‘soft-engineering’ solutions to the provision of goods and services at the sub-national and city level. Technology transfer is facilitated via in-field capacity building learning workshops and hands- on mentoring of officials, researchers and Young Professionals in the field of civil engineering.