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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

“Water, Water Everywhere Nor any Drop to Drink”: the myths, realities, challenges and opportunities concerning access to water in the 21st century

Monday 22 March 2010, 10.00-12.30

Rosemary Cramp Lecture Theatre, Calman Learning Centre

These public lectures are free and open to all.  To attend please register in advance by contacting the Institute of Advanced Study ( or 0191 334 2589)


To mark World Water Day (22 March 2010) the Durham Institute of Advanced Study and Northumbrian Water are hosting a morning of public lectures to examine a wide range of issues concerning access to water and water scarcity around the world in the 21st Century. 

The opening lecture will be delivered by Professor Asit K. Biswas, one of the world's leading authorities on water and environmental management.   An advisor to six UN agencies and 18 governments, Professor Biswas received the 2006 Stockholm Water Prize, considered to be the equivalent of Nobel Prize in the field of water, for his "outstanding contributions" to solve the world's water problems.   He will give a powerful lecture on the reasons why, in a prosperous world with sufficient technological capabilities, we are still not able to provide clean, drinkable water to all urban centres in the world.

The second lecture will be given by Mr Anthony Cox, Head of the Environment Directorate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and responsible for managing the OECD's work on a wide range of environmental policy issues, including water, eco-innovation, trade and environment, waste management and recycling, and sustainable materials management.  He will be delivering the key messages from work carried out by the OECD concerning issues of providing access to clean water on a global scale.

The final lecture will be delivered by Dr Muhammad Saidam, Director of the Environment Monitoring and Research Central Unit at the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan.  With water scarcity becoming more acute in many countries, Dr Saidam will be highlighting the issues and the ultimate impact of this scarcity on food production.  Under water-scarce conditions, the priority for water allocation will, naturally, be to satisfy direct human need.  However, several inevitable questions will arise: how far should water-scarce countires go in restricting water use for agricultural needs, thereby increasing their dependency on food imports to fill the gap? What will be the socio-economic implications be of such a policy on the farmers? And how will this impinge on the poor? 

The morning will offer the audience a chance to engage with some of the leading experts working on developing solutions to some of the world's greatest water problems.  Each lecture will be followed by a Q&A session and the morning will conclude with refreshments and the opportunity for the discussions to continue. 

The speakers are leading water experts who have gathered in Durham to join a small group of invited participants from around the world to engage in a high-level policy workshop, organised by the Institute of Advanced Study and Northumbrian Water, that will critically evaluate the values and costs of providing water in a world where it is increasingly becoming a scarce and contested resource.  The meeting is hoping to produce a new policy framework that can reconcile the twin objectives of cost recovery and universal provision in a global context.

The lectures will be chaired by Mr John Cuthbert, Managing Director of Northumbrian Water, and the Institute of Advanced Study's corporate sponsor for 2009-10.