Kiely McFarlane

Kiely McFarlane

Research interests: water governance; watershed management; participatory governance;  indigenous water governance; transformative change; environmental policy; local government; environmental geography; political ecology.

Biography: Kiely is now working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson, New Zealand, where she is contributing to a large interdisciplinary project on the past, present, and future health of New Zealand’s lakes. Building on her interests in water law, Kiely is examining how New Zealand’s evolving legislative landscape has shaped the use and management of lakes over the last 180 years, with implications for lake environments and the communities who interact with them. Case study research will further explore how lakes are woven into the history of specific communities and places, and the changing meanings, values, and practices associated with lake environments.

In 2019, Kiely completed her PhD, working under the supervision of Dr. Leila Harris in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC. Kiely is a Killam doctoral scholar; a member of Green College, the Program on Water Governance, and the EDGES research collaborative; and an HQP with the Res’Eau-WaterNET research network.

During her PhD, Kiely’s research focused on governance rescaling under British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act, and the opportunities that the Act provides for local governance capacity building and transformations in water management practices. Her research project addressed both the development of the Act (including its drivers and consultation processes) and its outcomes for communities/authorities seeking governance reform. The implications of the Act for First Nations’ roles in water governance, and source water protection in small communities was of particular interest.

Prior to commencing her PhD, Kiely worked at UBC as a research assistant on a project on drinking water in small communities – a project she will continue to contribute to as part of the Res’Eau-WaterNET research network. Kiely completed her Master of Science at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) in 2012, majoring in Geography. Her MSc research examined how transitions in urban stream management emerge through local planning and decision making processes, focusing on a highly controversial case study of ‘best practice’ in greenfield development. After graduating, Kiely worked as a research analyst for the Auckland Council (a metropolitan government body).


Jollymore, A., McFarlane, K., Harris, L. (2017) Whose input counts? Evaluating the process and outcomes of public consultation through the BC Water Act Modernization. Critical Policy Studies, in press. DOI: 10.1080/19460171.2017.1282377

McFarlane, K., Solomon, R. & Memon, A. (2015) Designing institutions for strategic spatial planning: implications for new metropolitan governance arrangements in AucklandUrban Policy Research 33(4): 452-471.

McFarlane, K., Harris, L. and Bakker, K. (2014). Regional surface and groundwater management and governance study: Review of North American case studies. Vancouver, BC: UBC Program on Water Governance.

McFarlane, K., Harris, L. and Bakker, K. (2014). Features of institutions and governance processes that enable efficient, effective and equitable water management. Vancouver, BC: UBC Program on Water Governance.

Reid, H., Brierley, G., McFarlane, K. & Coleman, S. (2013) The role of landscape setting in minimising hydrogeomorphic impacts on flow regulationInternational Journal of Sediment Research 28(2): 149-161.

Blue, B., Gregory, C., McFarlane, K., Tadaki, M., van Limburg-Meijer, P. & Lewis, N. (2012) Freshwater geographies: Experimenting with knowing and doing geography differentlyNew Zealand Geographer 68(1): 62-66.

McFarlane, K., Brierley, G. & Coleman, S. (2011) The application of fluvial geomorphology within State of the Environment reporting in New ZealandJournal of Hydrology (New Zealand) 50(1): 257-272.

Tadaki, M., McFarlane, K., Salmond, J. & Brierley, G. (2011) Theorizing ‘crisis’ as performative politics: A view from physical/environmental geographyDialogues in Human Geography 1(3): 355-360.

UBC Awards:

Killam Doctoral Scholarship 2016 (Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Fund for Advanced Studies)

Tim and Ann O’Riordan Fellowship in Sustainable Development 2014 (Green College, University of British Columbia)

Four Year Doctoral Fellowship 2014 (Institute of Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia)

Contact: kiely [dot] mcfarlane [at] alumni [dot] ubc [dot] ca

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