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Institute of Advanced Study

Experts map out challenges of providing the world with safe, clean water

(15 March 2010)

Water scarcity and providing clean water will be among the issues discussed at a series of free public lectures at Durham University next Monday (March 22).

The University's Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) and Northumbrian Water are hosting the event to mark World Water Day.

The lectures will examine a wide range of issues concerning access to water 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.

He will be highlighting the issues and the impact of water scarcity on food production when, understandably, future water management policy in water scarce countries will prioritise the allocation of water to supplying direct human need over supplies to the agricultural sector.

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 with 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 take place at the Calman Learning Centre, South Road, Durham on Monday 22 March 2010, 10am to 12.30pm. The lectures are free, but you must register in advance with the Institute of Advanced Study: or 0191 334 2589.

The policy workshop and lectures are part of the current study programme at the Institute of Advanced Study - which has water as its theme for 2009/10.

Appropriately Northumbrian Water, the region's leading specialist in water and waste water treatment, is backing the unique focus on the world's most precious resource.

It sees the University host fellows from other British universities, and visits by specialists from centres of learning and excellence including Australia, Canada, Italy, America, India, Jordan and New Zealand.

Water linked studies feature H2O in geology, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, pollution, climate change, ancient history and in space - on Mars and in the solar system.

Other projects explore water in music and culture, in politics and art, in film making, in oceans and waves, in hydration, in ecology, in weather and water quality.

Use of water in language, liquidity in financial markets, the potential for wars over water and its role in community life is also under the microscope.



Catherine Paine, Institute of Advanced Study, 0191 334 4686, 07919125723, or

Alistair Baker, Northumbrian Water, Communications & PR Manager 0191 3016851, 07711793493, or


Global Access to Water Public Lectures

Institute of Advanced Study

Northumbrian Water