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Water in Crisis in a Changing World: Innovative Approaches and Policy Imperatives
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                            WATER IN CRISIS IN A CHANGING WORLD
                                Innovative Approaches and Policy Imperatives

Wednesday 16 September 2009 from 10:30 am to 12:20 pm at UNU-IAS in Yokohama

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In the changing world of today, the decreasing water quality and quantity is closely linked to a chain of variables that range from climate change and variability, decreasing physical water availability, population growth, unable institutions, inadequate and obsolete infrastructure, to economic capacity. While approaches to solutions may vary from one social context to another, the underlying problem remains that “the complex inter-relationships between water and other factors need to be taken into account” (OECD, 2005). Effective water governance may emerge as a key solution to its impact on the dynamics of sustainable development. Drawing from different socio-geographical contexts, this water panel brings together three water scientists to assess how improved water governance characterized by a demand-side management; trust and cooperation between different stakeholders; and enabling institutions, remain the ultimate solutions to managing water sustainably in a changing environment.


10:30 – 10:45 am

Opening Remarks and Scene Setting [ Dr. Jose Puppim de Oliveira, Assistant Director UNU-IAS]

10:45 – 11:05 am

Presentation 1: Water Policies and Governance in India [Prof. Nagaraj Narrepa, Dept of Agricultural Economics, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore-India; Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, (CSEAS), Kyoto University]

In India, surface water irrigation is dominated by reservoirs and canal systems where almost the entire investment is borne by the public. Farmers using surface water typically remit no more than a fixed water charge, which seldom covers operational costs. Thus, surface water has become a ‘free’ public good not reflecting its scarcity value. This has led to gross inefficiency in water use, leading to environmental problems like salinity and alkalinity. Indian agriculture has emerged as the world’s largest user of groundwater for agriculture. With access to exploration and extraction technolgy, groundwater based irrigation rapidly exploded from the 1970s leading to the resource being overexploited.

Prof Narrepa has been a researcher in agricultural economics, natural resource economics and agricultural production economics and farm management since 1981. Currently, he is a Professor in the Dept of Agricultural Economics, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India. He is working on the project – ‘Livelihood Security of Rural Poor in Disadvantaged Chitradurga District of Karnataka through Integrated Farming Systems Approach’ - sponsored by ICAR, National Agricultural Innovative Project (NAIP) funded by the World Bank.

11:05 – 11:25 am

Presentation 2: Roadmap for Innovative Solutions to Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa [Dr. Albert Djemetio, UNU-IAS JSPS Fellow]

Global and regional experiences beyond Africa, have demonstrated the major historic contribution of infrastructure to water security in developed countries. A strong evidence base has demonstrated that the achievement of water security has boosted economies and social progress, and protected development achievements against regular climate setbacks. This contrasts starkly with the poor and low infrastructure assets across Africa in general and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular that have for too long denied many citizens the benefits of water management. Poor communities and national economies therefore continue to bare the historic, regular and frequent variability of water shortage in some cases and water excess in others.

Dr. Albert Djemetio specializes in water resources development for the poor and vulnerable groups in the context of sustainable development. Djemetio is currently engaged in applied policy research in support of improved strategies for poverty reduction in Africa and South East Asia from a water and sanitation perspective as a UNU-IAS JSPS Fellow.

11:25 – 11:35 am

Coffee Break

11:35 – 11:55 am

Presentation 3: If Water is in Crisis, What about Culture? [Prof. Kenichi Matsui, Assistant Professor, Sustainable Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba]

This presentation examines some aspects of Japanese policies on water development by providing a case study on the Nibutani Dam controversy in Hokkaido. This dam was built in the heartland of the Ainu traditional territory, the Saru River watershed, in the 1990s and has been controversial since then. Whereas the dam created jobs for construction workers and supposedly lowered the risk of floods, the dam has adversely affected the traditional activities of the Ainu people.

Prof. Kenichi Matsui received his Ph.D. in history at the University of British Columbia and has taught at the same university and Simon Fraser University before taking a position at the University of Tsukuba. His main research topics include indigenous water rights, the application of traditional knowledge to watershed management, environmental history, and applied environmental ethics. His publication on these topics includes Native Peoples and Water Rights: Irrigation, Dams, and the Law in Western Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009).

11:55 - 12:20 pm

Discussion, Question and Answer Session [Moderator – Dr. S. Subramanian, UNU-IAS]

Venue: United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), 6F International Organizations Centre, Pacifico Yokohama, Minato Mirai, Yokohama.

Registration is free and open to the public. Contact: UNU-IAS Reception Tel: 045-221-2300, Email: or see for information and online registration.

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