Michaelmas Term Guest Lectures 2013

Everyone is welcome to attend these guest lectures.

Dams on the Mekong: unanticipated effects on nutrition and food trades

Dr Jamie Pittock

15 October 2013, 1pm

A J Herbertson Room, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford

As many as 88 hydropower dams are planned in the Mekong River basin by 2030. Dam proponents have argued that sharing benefits between riparian nations is a mechanism to enable mutually beneficial water infrastructure developments to proceed. Although the Mekong dams have been subject to extensive environmental assessment, in this research we demonstrate that some key impacts have not yet been incorporated in government decision making and that this may lead to significant, perverse impacts. The implications for regional nutrition, food security and trade, as well as mitigation options will be explored in this seminar.

Dr Jamie Pittock is a Senior Lecturer in the Fenner School of Environment and Society at The Australian National University and Director of International Programs for the UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance. He is also the Program Leader of the Australia and United States Climate, Energy and Water Nexus Project for the US Studies Centre.

Presentation slides


Water security in a changing world

Professor John Briscoe

21 October 2013, 5pm, followed by drinks

Blue Boar Lecture Theatre, Christ Church, Oxford

The talk will describe: how rich countries have developed infrastructure and institutions to reduce their vulnerability to excesses and shortages of water; and the changing reality of assistance for poor countries as they attempt to enhance their water security.

John Briscoe is Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Environment Engineering at Harvard University where he directs the Harvard Water Security Initiative and is on the faculty of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Public Health and Kennedy School of Government. His extensive experience in the field of water and economic development includes a 20-year career at the World Bank.

Presentation slides | Listen to audio

Water development paths, climate change, and sustainable economic growth

Professor Dale Whittington

25 October 2013, 12pm

H O Beckit Room, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford

Water resource managers who work in the megacities of the developing world are trying to address the challenges of population growth, urban agglomeration, globalisation of supply chains, and climate change with a 19th century technological vision of a municipal water and wastewater network system. Although typically characterised as natural monopolies, almost all water utilities in developing countries charge prices far below the real costs of service, and have no cash reserves to expand services, support economic growth, or adapt to climate change. This presentation looks back over 100,000 years of investment and innovation along water development paths to better understand why we find ourselves in this predicament, and what needs to be done so that poor water services in cities in developing countries are not an obstacle to sustainable economic growth.

Dale Whittington is Professor of Environmental Sciences & Engineering, and City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA), and the Manchester Business School (UK). He is the author of over 100 publications, many of which deal with economic and public policy issues of water resources management in developing countries.

Climate extremes, water stress and collective management: lessons from irrigation systems and transboundary rivers in three contested basins

Drs. Dustin Garrick (Oxford University) and Sergio Villamayor-Tomas (Humboldt University)

Wednesday 4 December 2013, 5-6.30pm, followed by drinks

Blue Boar Lecture Theatre, Christ Church, Oxford

Over 40% of the world population will live in river basins experiencing severe water stress by 2050 according to the OECD Environmental Outlook. This is not a distant challenge, however. Droughts, floods and rapidly growing demands already present ‘stress tests’ for semi-arid regions facing scarce water supplies and limited infrastructure to manage floods. Such disturbances unfold over different scales from the local to the global and span over short and long periods of time. This presentation presents theory and evidence about issues of scale, disturbances and policy responses in community-based and transboundary water management. Field work in Australia, Spain, and the US is used as the launching pad for a new collaborative project in the Rio Grande Basin along the US-Mexico border.

Dr Dustin Garrick is a Research Fellow in the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford. His research examines water allocation policy responses to scarcity and climate extremes in transboundary rivers of Western North America and Australia. Prior to joining Oxford in 2011, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Australia where he examined the evolution and performance of water markets and environmental water recovery efforts in the Murray-Darling Basin during the Millennium Drought (1997-2010). In January 2014, he will start as Philomathia Professor of Water Policy at McMaster University to lead an interdisciplinary research initiative on water security and global change in transboundary rivers.

Dr Sergio Villamayor Tomas is lecturer and Research Associate in the Division of Resource Economics (Department of Agricultural Economics) at Humboldt University Berlin. His research focuses on community-based management of water resources under extreme events. He recently launched a project to understand the role of cooperation in drought adaptation processes in in Northern Mexico. He is also leading a collaborative initiative with other young researchers to test the applicability of community-based management lessons in large scale watersheds.