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Photo Gallery: The Human Element of Water

Author and advocate Maude Barlow will kick off the conference in a keynote address on Feb. 23 at 7:00 p.m. in the Dumke Auditorium of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. A former advisor to the president of the UN General Assembly, Barlow is currently national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and chairs the board of Food and Water Watch based in Washington.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maude Barlow

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Photo Gallery: Peter Gleick

Peter H. Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland will speak at 12:15 p.m. in the S.J. Quinney College of Law Moot Courtroom.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Peter Gleick

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The Human Element of Water

U of U conference focuses on water, conflict and human rights Feb. 23-25

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February 14, 2011- "Every year, more people die from the consequences of unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war." The United Nations issued this statement on World Water Day last year. Access to clean water is perhaps the most basic human right of all, yet it is considered one of the most abused rights on the planet.

Experts and water rights advocates will discuss the challenges surrounding water in a conference Feb. 23-25 on the University of Utah campus. "Water, Conflict and Human Rights: Emerging Challenges and Solutions," is presented by the Barbara L. and Norman C. Tanner Center on Human Rights Advocacy. All events are free and open to the public.

Author and advocate Maude Barlow will kick off the conference in a keynote address on Feb. 23. Barlow contends that water is the most violated right in the world. A former advisor to the president of the UN General Assembly, Barlow is currently national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and chairs the board of Food and Water Watch based in Washington. Her discussion on the causes and nature of the world's water crisis will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Dumke Auditorium of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. A reception with music and art exhibits from local schools will follow Barlow's address.

After a morning panel discussion on Feb. 24, the event's second keynote address will be given by Peter H. Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, Calif. Gleick will outline what he calls a "soft path" toward sustainable water use in the future. He will speak at 12:15 p.m. in the S.J. Quinney College of Law Moot Courtroom.

Johanna Watzinger-Tharp, associate dean in the College of Humanities, says it is vital to hear from these two renowned experts, as well as the incredible host of panelists at this year's conference. "Barlow's and Gleick's advocacy has helped people all over the world better understand the complex issues surrounding access to safe and clean drinking water, and will help us address the grave concerns about the millions of people who lack this basic human right," she notes.

Although discussing international water issues in a land-locked state may seem counter-intuitive, attendees will find that the issues hit very close to home. Lessons learned in the Intermountain West and rural U.S. may provide answers for the estimated one billion people who lack access to clean water around the world. The last day of the conference will examine these specific issues through the eyes of legal experts, academics and a council member of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation.

Panelist Robert Adler, James I. Farr chair and professor of law at the university, notes the timely nature of addressing water as a human right: "Surprisingly, only recently have we begun to recognize a fundamental human right to water. For tens of millions of people around the world, this is a critical human rights issue, and often one of basic survival."

A full schedule of the conference is available for download at http://www.humanrights.utah.edu. Here are some highlighted events:

FEBRUARY 23, 2011

  • 7:00 p.m. - OPENING KEYNOTE ADDRESS & RECEPTION
    "The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water"
    Dumke Auditorium, Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, Founder of the Blue Planet Project
The reception also will include exhibits by The Salt Lake Arts Academy, Visual Arts Institute, The Mundi Project and West High School Senior International Baccalaureate Science Project on Water

FEBRUARY 24, 2011

  • 9:00a.m. - PANEL DISCUSSION
    "Water Demand: Population Growth, Economic Development and Energy"
    Officers' Club, Fort Douglas

    Moderator: Steven Burian, University of Utah
    Panelists: Zach Frankel, Utah Rivers Council; Anya Plutynski, University of Utah; Dennis Strong, Director, Utah Division of Water Resources
  • 12:15 p.m. - KEYNOTE LECTURE
    "The Water Crisis, New Solutions and the Role of the Human Right to Water"
    Moot Courtroom, S. J. Quinney College of Law

Peter Gleick, Co-Founder & President, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security

  • 2:15 p.m. - PANEL DISCUSSION
    "Water Privatization: Inter-Basin Water Transfers, Democracy and Human Rights"
    Officers' Club, Fort Douglas

    Moderator: Ed Barbanell,University of Utah
    Panelists: Susan Spronk, University of Ottawa, Canada; Simeon Herskovits, Advocates for Community and Environment; LaDawn Haglund, Arizona State University

FEBRUARY 25, 2011

  • 9:00 a.m. - PANEL DISCUSSION
    "Water Quality, Ecosystems and Their Restoration, Community Well-being and Public Health" Officers' Club, Fort Douglas

    Moderator: Ted Wilson, Utah Governor's Office
    Panelists: Robert Adler, University of Utah; Daniel McCool, University of Utah; Joy Zedler, University of Wisconsin; Walter Baker, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
  • 11:20 a.m. - PANEL DISCUSSION
    "Water Conflict Case Studies: Stakeholder Mediation, Dialogue and Lessons Learned"
    Officers' Club, Fort Douglas

    Moderator: Deborah Callister, University of Utah
    Panelists: Joseph Dellapenna, Villanova University; Madeline Greymountain, Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation; Michael Campana, Oregon State University

Media Contacts

Aleta Tew
administrator, Barbara L. and Norman C. Tanner Center on Human Rights Advocacy
Office phone: 801-581-5966
Email address: aleta.tew@csbs.utah.edu
Thomas N. Maloney
director, Barbara L. and Norman C. Tanner Center on Human Rights Advocacy
Office phone: 801-581-7704
Email address: maloney@economics.utah.edu
Kate Ferebee
U of U public relations specialist
Office phone: 801-587-9183
Email address: kate@ucomm.utah.edu
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