New op-ed in The Conversation by Jiaying Zhao and Leila Harris
Nudging the city and residents of Cape Town to save water

IRES Faculty Leila Harris and Jiaying Zhao have a piece in The Conversation. Click the link to view the piece.


Leila Harris

Associate Professor, IRES
Associate Professor, Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice

Leila Harris is an Associate Professor at IRES Institute on Resources Environment and Sustainability and in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. She also serves as Co-Director for UBC’s Program on Water Governance (, is a member of the EDGES research collaborative (Environment and Development: Gender, Equity, and Sustainability Perspectives,, and is an Associate of the Department of Geography, and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC. Dr. Harris’s work examines social, cultural, political-economic, institutional and equity dimensions of environmental and resource issues. Her current research focuses on the intersection of environmental issues and inequality / social difference, water governance shifts (e.g. marketization, participatory governance), in addition to a range of water governance challenges important for the Canadian context (e.g. First Nations water governance). Current projects include a SSHRC funded project on everyday access and governance of water in underserved areas of Cape Town, South Africa and Accra, Ghana. Dr. Harris is also principal investigator for the SSHRC funded International WaTERS Research and Training Network focused on water governance, equity and resilience in the global South (


Jiaying Zhao

Assistant Professor, IRES
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Canada Research Chair (t2, Behavioral Sustainability)

What is psychology good for? How can psychology contribute to sustainability? To answer these questions, Dr. Zhao aims to use psychological principles to design behavioral solutions to address sustainability challenges. This approach offers insights on how cognitive mechanisms govern human behavior, and how behavioral interventions can inform the design and the implementation of public policy. Dr. Zhao is currently examining the cognitive causes and consequences of scarcity, what behavioral interventions improve the performance in low-income individuals, how to promote recycling and composting behavior, water and energy conservation, what cognitive, motivational, and sociocultural factors shape the perception of climate change, and how to engage the public on biodiversity conservation.

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