Strong presence of Oxford alumni at World Water Week 2012, Stockholm

This week over 2,000 politicians, CEOS, scientists, practitioners, and leaders of international organisations from over 100 counties gathered in Stockholm to discuss water and food security. World Water Week, the annual conference organised by Stockholm International Water Institute, is the focal point for the international water community and the arena for debating and showcasing solutions for the world’s most urgent water challenges. Amongst the delegates attending this year were eight alumni from the School of Geography and the Environment’s MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management.

Virginia Hooper (MSc year 2007/2008), now a PhD researcher at the University of East Anglia, spoke at a workshop on ‘Governance for water and food security’. She presented findings from an extensive DFID-funded review of the performance of water resource management institutions in delivering pro-poor outcomes and sustainable economic growth.

Other MSc alumni present at the conference were Nick Dickinson (2004/2005, IRC), Jenny Datoo (2007/2008, USAID), Lorenzo Bosi (2008/2009, World Food Programme), Philipp Peters (2008/2009, GIZ), Jennifer Möller-Gulland (2009/2010, PwC), Marco Daniel (2010-2011, HELVETAS), and Ilana Cohen (2010/2011, Aquaconsult).

The Water Science, Policy and Management Masters attracts a diverse and international group of students each year, and equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to become the next generation of water professionals. The growing global network of alumni are found in influential government, research and industry roles, actively contributing to more sustainable pathways for water management.

For more information on the MSc Water Science, Policy and Management, visit the website.


Water Security Network mentioned in Science journal as example of long-term initiative for joining interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners

In a recent article in Science’s Policy Forum, Karen Bakker, Director of the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia, reflects on the significant challenges and opportunities for water security research.

Bakker warns that the current disconnect between academic research on water security and the needs of policy-makers and practitioners is impeding progress on addressing the global water crisis.

Oxford’s Water Security Network is highlighted as a prime example of the types of long-term initiatives which are needed to bring together interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners, to complement the typical project-based funding.

Another challenge relates to the differences in scale that different disciplinary approaches take to water research. For example, hydrologists have their vision fixed on the river basin, while the interest of political scientists lies with the nation state. Bakker lends support to the use of a risk-based framework, as developed at Oxford’s Water Security, Risk and Society conference in April this year. “Risk analysis frameworks are promising … because they can incorporate multiple, nested spatial and temporal scales”, she points out. Furthermore, the common language of risk may prove useful for bridging disciplinary divides in water security research and analysing the complex trade-offs between multiple and competing objectives.


Global leaders discuss food, water and energy scarcities at Re|Source2012

Tamara Etmannski, University of Oxford

The Oxford Water Security Network had a strong presence at the highly acclaimed Re|Source2012 conference which was held at Oxford University on 13-14 July 2012. Oxford’s Professors Jim Hall and Professor David Grey were amongst the impressive list of speakers, which included influential thinkers such as Bill Clinton, Sir David Attenborough, Lord Patten of Barnes, and Amartya Sen. The vision for Re|Source2012 was to bring together global business, finance, political and academic leaders to discuss the interdependencies of food, water and energy, resource scarcity, and investment opportunities. The event provided the platform to rethink, reform, and renew ideas about managing resources.

‘A Thirst for Growth’ panel, moderated by Dominic Waughray, World Economic Forum. Photo: John Cairns

The immediate need for water-related innovations became a common theme throughout the two days of discussion. Prof Hall drew attention to a predicted 90% increase in water demand by 2050 and in low latitudes, a 10-30% decrease in water availability. The Chairman of the Board of Nestlé S.A., Peter Brabeck-Letmathe warned that the future of all economic growth will depend on water. The Minster for Environment and Water Resources of Singapore, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan highlighted three factors that have been critical to success in Singapore: long-term plans that extend beyond the electoral cycle, technology breakthroughs such as reverse osmosis, and pricing to send a signal that water is a scarce and precious resource. Glen Daigger of CH2M HILL said that solutions will need to be tailored to the local context and hydrology, selecting from a toolkit of approaches which increasingly includes efficiency, water recycling and reuse, and rainwater capture.

Oxford University Professors David Grey and Jim Hall. Photo: John Cairns

Two water exhibits gave examples of the innovative research being undertaken by Oxford University. Patrick Thomson had a real-size ‘Smart Hand-pump’ for rural water supply set-up to demonstrate how it will automatically send a text message to district and national water managers when there is a mechanical problem or failure with the pump. This will ensure immediate action by local partners, creating a reliable system of information communication and repair accountability. Simon Dadson presented a global hydrology simulation model using geospatial visualisation, highlighting the sophisticated modelling tools being advanced to help understand and inform tradeoffs in water resources and environmental management.

‘Smart Handpump’ measures the amount of water extracted and sends a text message when there is a failure

Some major themes emerged throughout the conference. On the value and management of natural resources, there was clear emphasis on the need for long-term agendas and multi-stakeholder partnerships. MP David Miliband responded to the question of whether action should be led by business or government, by stating that the answer is clearly both. He stressed that strong government leadership, business innovation and mass mobilisation are key. Dr James Bradfeld-Moody, co-author of ‘The Sixth Wave’, suggested real innovation as the selling of access not ownership, using and investing in waste, and the convergence of the digital world with the natural world.

The private sector voiced how integrated reporting is the way forward, how sustainability in business is an investment and touched upon other important topics like ethical business, fairness and dignity. Representatives from both BP and Puma spoke of the need for corporate and governmental transparency, especially in the area of subsidies. Delegates converged on agreement that the future is already here, and action on all these fronts is required immediately.

President Bill Clinton inspired delegates with a vision for the future in his closing keynote speech. He clearly stated that the sustainability model in business is good economics. To tackle climate change, he said we should “pick the low-hanging fruit”; first by improving global efficiency, and then pursuing solar power as an alternative energy source. He emphasised that creative networks of cooperation should be the way forward in tackling all the issues discussed during Re|Source2012, and said that one day we will all realise that common good is more important than private gain.

All talks and discussions from Re|Source2012 are available to view online.

Tamara Etmannski is a Doctoral Student in Sustainable Water Engineering at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford.



Vacancy: Knowledge Transfer Manager – Water

Department of Earth Sciences, Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network (ESKTN), Begbroke Science Park, University of Oxford

Grade 7: £29,249 – £35,938

The Environmental Sustainability KTN is a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation funded by the Technology Strategy Board. ESKTN focuses on accelerating the UK’s transition to a low carbon, resource and energy efficient economy by connecting businesses, universities, other research organisations and Government agencies, to catalyse innovation across a wide range of environmental technologies. The ESKTN has four main areas of interest, in sustainable water management, sustainable energy, resource efficiency and waste management, and sustainable land management and food production.

The Knowledge Transfer Manager will have responsibilities particularly for the area of sustainable water management.

We are looking for an enthusiastic person to join our team to provide innovation support to businesses and academics in the UK, promoting networking and building new collaborations, including collaborative R&D projects. A highly motivated self-starter with excellent communication and organisational skills, you will enjoy the challenge of working at the interface of scientific knowledge, changing industrial need and evolving governmental policy. Candidates should have a Degree in an appropriate area of engineering, environmental or related science, business or industrial experience and knowledge exchange skills. It may be possible for suitable candidates to be based mainly away from Oxford.

This is a fixed-term post until the end of March 2013, in the first instance.
Applications must be received by 12pm on Tuesday 28 August 2012. Interviews will be held on 6 September 2012.
Contact Person : Aimee Crowshaw
Contact Phone : 01865 272000
Closing Date : 28-Aug-2012
Contact Email :
More details and an application form can be found here.


MSc Water Science, Policy and Management alumnus wins Olympic rowing gold

Andy Hodge graduated from the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management in 2005 as well as stroking Oxford’s blue boat to success in the university boat race in 2005. He was awarded a MBE in 2009 and is one of the world’s most decorated rowers with an earlier Olympic gold from Beijing (2008). The teaching staff believe Andy’s firm grasp of channel hydrology, climate variability and water politics helped him secure his second gold medal!