Research & Studies

Future Challenges of Water – The 11th Qatar University Life Sciences Symposium

iASK in the World – Water Security and Sustainability: The State of Global Water Resources and related Future Challenges 

Keynote Speaker: András Szöllősi-Nagy (PhD, DSc, Professor of Sustainable Water Management, National University of Public Service (NUPS), Budapest, Hungary; Institute of Advanced Studies Köszeg (iASK), Hungary; Chair, International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO; Chair, Sustainable Water Futures Programme; Governor, World Water Council)

The presentation will overview the current global perspective on freshwater with a view to identify major likely future challenges along with an outline of potential opportunities for solutions. Given the projected demands for water, and the likely impact of climate variability and change, the present water uses are clearly not sustainable.

The big questions are as follows: Are we really dealing with the most important issues? What are indeed the major drivers that will determine how water will be managed two generations from now? In case of transboundary rivers and aquifers, where nearly half of humanity leaves, who calls the shots? How effective international cooperation is? Why do we need that, to start with? Is water management an ethical and cultural issue or simple a matter of engineering by more structures? Isn’t water just a matter of quick technical fixes by applying more technology?  Is water a source of conflict or that of cooperation? Some of the potential responses to these questions will be outlined along with an assessment of new relevant global action initiatives of the UN system, notably the SDGs and the central position of water therein related to poverty eradication, food and energy security as well as to public and ecosystems health for it seems that finally, the political recognition is born that freshwater is a major global issue.

The presentation will attempt to identify future technical, social and ecological challenges that need to be addressed to establish sustainable water development and management practices for the future. It will look into the hydrological impacts of various global change drivers at various scales. All these changes imply strong non-stationarity. It will be argued that the design methodologies, such as the concept of design criteria, developed under the hypothesis of stationary hydrological processes, need to be revisited and updated. Potential impacts of climate change will also be outlined along with the likely increase in the occurrence of extreme events such as floods and droughts. Mitigation and adaptation measures will shortly be outlined with a view to create resilient systems. Of the later structural and non-structural measures will be shortly examined. The presentation will argue that the re-examination of some of the structural measures, such as more water storage, more intensive hydropower development as well as to re-examination of the principles of water governance, respectively, are timely and urgent tasks. Groundwater resources offer huge opportunities for climate adaptation, however, they are extremely vulnerable and needed to be managed with a great deal of care. These measures will pose new social and ecological challenges but also offer new opportunities. Various hypotheses will be entertained as to the relative importance of the various global drivers at various scales.

The 11th Qatar University Life Sciences Symposium, December 3-4, 2017 Doha, Qatar