Charlotte Wirion / PhD

Vrije Universiteit Brussel / Hydrology

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Urbanization is occurring and we need to meet the challenges cities face: (among others) air and water pollution, urban heat islands, carbon emissions, congestion, waste production, and resource use.
I am therefore highly motivated to contribute to a more liveable and sustainable environment in cities where most people live. In my PhD project we try to analyse ecosystem services of heterogeneous urban areas in order to improve urban planning scenarios and reduce water pollution and urban heat island effects.
My family (with a baby and a toddler) and I try to reduce our ecological footprint by living in the city center, in order to avoid the need of a car. We thus do everything by bike, foot or public transport. Further, we try to manage our use of resources and waste production. We therefore try and avoid to buy new products as much as possible. We reuse for example old mobile phones of friends and family. If we buy new we opt for local and second hand products. Further we compost our food waste.
A big concern coming along with urbanization is providing food security for the increasing population in cities. A sustainable food production within the cities regions is important. I therefore took part in a study comparing long-term farming systems, and worked on organic urban farming projects.
A difficulty we face in private life is the flying. As an international couple/family, we fly to visit our families as night trains between Belgium and Spain stopped operating. For professional travels, we decided as a department to favour the train over the plane if possible (Destination < 6hours by train away from home). This is an initiative of the green impact team of our department, in which my colleagues and I try to make our working habits more sustainable.