Tuesday 24 April - Peter H. Gleick

Professor Bronwen Morgan introduces Peter H. Gleick, Co-founder of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, California

The Human Right to Water: What Does It Really Mean?

In the growing global discussion about water problems in the 21st century, the failure to meet basic human needs for safe water and sanitation has emerged high on the agenda of nations, international organizations, and local communities. Many tools, technologies, policies, and strategies have been brought to bear to address this failure, but none have been fully successful. After decades of debate, a new factor has emerged: in 2010 the United Nations formally acknowledged the human right to water and sanitation in both a General Assembly resolution and a subsequent resolution of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. While the broad legal question of whether a human right to water exists has arguably been resolved, many additional questions remain about implementation and status of this right. Dr. Peter Gleick will address the background to these questions and discuss the issues at the heart of the problem, including the history of the legal human right to water and sanitation, whether formal recognition of such a right will help meet basic human needs or help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and given such a right, how to move forward to progressively achieve the full realization of human rights obligations and responsibilities related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation.  Gleick will argue that we can integrate the apparently conflicting ideologies of water as a human right and an economic good, as we try move toward a sustainable water future.

DR PETER H. GLEICK is Co-founder of the Pacific Institute, a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, a MacArthur Fellow, and an early contributor to the international discussion around the human right to water. Among his other honors, in 2011 he was awarded the Ven Te Chow Prize from the International Water Resources Association and the first United States Water Prize. In addition to his many peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications, he is the author or editor of ten books, including the series The World’s Water (Island Press), Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (Island Press 2010), and the upcoming book A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy (Oxford University Press 2012).



Peter H. Gleick