News & Events

Reframing Waterscapes (Liu Institute)

One exhibition and three events about globalization and migration along the Yangtze River in China.

Exhibit, Reframing Waterscapes: March 15th-May 18th, 2012
Lobby Gallery, Liu Institute for Global Issues

Opening night reception: March 15th, 4-6pm:
Introduction to exhibit by Waterscapes research team (Gu Xiong, Chris Lee and Jennifer Chun)
Film screening: “A Moth in Spring” (Yu Gu, 2009, 26 minutes) followed by Q&A

Artist talk with Gu Xiong: March 26th, 12-1pm
3rd floor Boardroom, Liu Institute for Global Issues
Lunch will be provided; please RSVP to by March 23.

Two Documentaries: April 5th, 4-8pm
4-5:30pm: “Last Train Home” (Lixin Fan, 2009, 85 minutes)
5:30-6pm: Dinner. Food will be provided; please RSVP to by April 2.
6-8pm: “Waking the Green Tiger” (Gary Marcuse, 2011, 78 minutes) followed by Q&A with Gary Marcuse

All events are free and open to the public!

Water Security Evening Event (17 Feb)

On the 17th February 2012, the University of British Columbia’s Program on Water Governance held a panel event exploring Water Security in Canada.

Water is arguably our most critical resource. But how secure is Canada’s water? What are the greatest threats we face? And what should be our priorities for management and conservation? Invited experts explored these questions, and presented views on current and future water issues in Canada. The presentations were followed by a moderated discussion with audience members.

Speakers included:

Prof. Gordon Young (former UN World Water Assessment Program coordinator),
Prof. Howard Wheater (Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security and Director, Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan),
Prof. Tom Pedersen
(Director, Pacific Institue for Climate Solutions, University of Victoria)
Prof. Diana Allen (Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University)
Dr. Judy Isaac-Renton (Public Health Laboratory Director, BC Centre for Disease Control).

The panel was moderated by Prof. Karen Bakker, Director of the UBC Program on Water Governance (and author of Eau Canada: The Future of Canada’s Water) and Prof. Mike Church (University of British Columbia).

Water Portraits” by Peter Holmes were also on display.

Water Security in Canada was a free event open to the public, held in conjunction with the 2012 Annual Meeting of the AAAS in Vancouver. It took place in room 109, Vancouver Convention Centre, West Building on Friday 17th February from 7:30-9:30pm.

Event sponsors:

Call for Submissions

Downstream: Reimagining Water – Call for Submissions

March 5-14: Concourse Galley Exhibition
March 21-24: World Water Day events

Emily Carr University of Art and Design invites artist to hare their work investigating how perceptions of water shape our experiences with it. It’s been said that wars of the future will be fought over water. Alternatively, however, water could form a path to peace. If so, what would this look like? If we are in a perpetual collaboration with water, how might this perception or acknowledgment change us?

For further information visit or email

Collaborative Watershed Governance 26-27 Jan 2012

Spaces (and bursaries) are still available for the cutting-edge “unconference” on collaborative watershed governance!

The event, “A Water Gathering: Collaborative Watershed Governance in BC and Beyond – Solutions Forum,” will take place January 26 to 27, 2012 at UBC Robson Square, Vancouver.

The goal of this gathering is to provide participants with practical knowledge and skills for developing and maintaining collaborative processes, and to build new and strengthen existing networks. Participants will identify the skills essential for collaborative engagement and the necessary steps for realizing new forms of governance. Drawing on successful stories of change, the gathering will focus on what can be done and how to do it.

The POLIS WSP is helping organize and deliver the event, hosted by the Pacific Business and Law Institute and the Summit Institute. For more information or to register call 604-730-2500 (local) or 877-730-2555 (toll free) or visit

“Water Champion” Karen nominated for “Water’s Next 2012”

Feature article – Water’s Next 2012 nominee Karen Bakker

About Water’s Next
“Water’s Next celebrates some of the best and brightest of Canada’s water champions,” says Kerry Freek, Editor of Water Canada. “Congratulations to the featured nominees for their hard work and commitment to making safe, health water resources a priority.”

Water’s Next is an annual publication of Water Canada magazine, highlighting significant contributions to Canada’s waterscape. The magazine’s readers make nominations in the categories of People, Businesses, Projects, and Innovation. Featured nominees are selected by a committee of water experts from varied disciplines from across the country.

About Water Canada
Water Canada is the only national magazine in Canada that is dedicated to water quality and stewardship.

For more information, visit Water Canada online, or contact Kerry Freek, Editor:, 416-444-5842  ext. 112

New Book: The Right to Water

New Book: The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles, Edited by Farhana Sultana and Alex Loftus. Earthscan (Taylor and Francis), UK, 2011

The right to clean water has been adopted by the United Nations as a basic human right. Yet how such universal calls for a right to water are understood, negotiated, experienced and struggled over remain key challenges. The Right to Water elucidates how universal calls for rights articulate with local historical geographical contexts, governance, politics and social struggles, thereby highlighting the challenges and the possibilities that exist. Bringing together a unique range of academics, policy-makers and activists, the book analyzes how struggles for the right to water have attempted to translate moral arguments over access to safe water into workable claims. This book is an intervention at a crucial moment into the shape and future direction of struggles for the right to water in a range of political, geographic and socio-economics contexts, seeking to be pro-active in defining what this struggle could mean and how it might be taken forward in a far broader transformative politics.
The Right to Water engages with a range of approaches that focus on philosophical, legal and governance perspectives before seeking to apply these more abstract arguments to an array of concrete struggles and case studies. In so doing, the book builds on empirical examples from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, the Middle East, North America and the European Union.

Table of Contents:
Foreword – Maude Barlow
1. The Right to Water: Possibilities and Prospects Farhana Sultana and Alex Loftus
2. The ‘Commons’ Versus the ‘Commodity’: Alter -globalization, Anti-privatization and the Human Right to Water in the Global South – Karen Bakker
3. The Human Right to What? Water, Rights, Humans and the Relation of Things Jamie Linton
4. A Right to Water? Geographico-legal Perspectives – Chad Staddon, Tom Appleby and Evadne Grant
5. The Political Economy of the Right to Water: Reinvigorating the Question of Property – Kyle Mitchell
6. Scarce or insecure? The Right to Water and the Ethics of Global Water Governance – Jeremy Schmidt
7. The Right to Water as the Right to Identity: Legal Struggles of Indigenous Peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand – Jacinta Ruru
8. Legal Protection of the Right to Water in the European Union – Marleen van Rijswick and Andrea Keessen
9. Rights, Citizenship and Territory: Water Politics in the West Bank – Iliaria Giglioli
10. Water Rights and Wrongs: Illegality and Informal Use in Mexico and the U.S. – Katharine Meehan
11. The Centrality of Community Participation to the Realization of the Right to Water: The Illustrative Case of South Africa – Cristy Clark
12. The Right to the City and the Eco-Social Commoning of Water: Discursive and Political Lessons from South Africa – Patrick Bond
13. Anti-Privatization Struggles and the Right to Water in India: Engendering Cultures of Opposition – Krista Bywater
14. Seeing through the Concept of Water as a Human Right in Bolivia – Rocio Bustamante, Carlos Crespo and Anna Maria Walnycki
15. From Cochabamba to Colombia: Travelling Repertoires in Latin American Water Struggles – Verónica Perera

“The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles is a brilliant collection of essays from the best thinkers, academics and activists in the field, and is required reading for all those wanting this mighty effort to succeed.” – Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, former Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the UN General Assembly, and recipient of the 2005 Right Livelihood Award.

“The right to safe and sufficient drinking water for all is one of the main issues and struggles of our time. Unequal power relations at local, national and transnational scales, combined with policies and intervention practices that are often highly adverse for the vulnerable, make that those with water abundance tend to squander leaving the others to face ever greater injustice. This book’s diverse chapters provide an empirically rich and intellectually elaborate insight in the world of water, power, governance, and social mobilization” – Rutgerd Boelens, Coordinator Justicia Hídrica/Water Justice alliance; Associate Professor Wageningen University, The Netherlands; Visiting Professor Catholic University Peru.

“This edited collection by Sultana and Loftus comes at the right time, when the global financial collapse threatens to worsen the conditions of water injustice affecting millions in the planet. The book is an excellent contribution to international debates about the conceptual and practical intricacies of “the human right to water”. It should be read by scholars, students, practitioners and all those concerned with the eradication of structural water inequality and injustice” – José Esteban Castro, Professor of Sociology, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University

“The right to water for all has been invoked many times over the past decade or so. Yet, very little has been achieved to achieve a more equitable access to water despite resounding declarations of assorted national and international public and private organizations. This book is a long overdue engagement with the enduring relevance of the right to water and why it is denied to so many people in the world. The contributors consider the centrality of social and political struggle in claiming this right to water. For those who have enough of empty slogans, impotent declarations and superficial analysis, this book opens up new theoretical perspectives and politically empowering insights that chart pathways for achieving real change.” – Erik Swyngedouw, University of Manchester

PoWG Announcement

It is our pleasure to announce the appointment of Dr Leila Harris as Associate Director of the Program on Water Governance. Dr Harris brings a wealth of international, interdisciplinary research experience on water, gender, and the environment. We look forward to her playing a leading role in the Program’s international work.

Welcome, Leila!


Leila Harris is currently Assistant Professor with the Institute of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, and the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her work examines social, cultural and political-economic dimensions of environmental and resource issues, especially in developing contexts. She comes to the Program on Water Governance with long held interest in water politics and governance, with much of her earlier work highlighting water politics, use, and access associated with large-scale transformations of the upper Tigris-Euphrates basin as part of Turkey’s GAP project.  Leila has analyzed a range of issues linked to these ongoing changes, from gender and ethnic inequalities in relation to water use and access, to scalar narratives, to linkages between water-related development and state building in the politically marginalized southeastern Anatolia region. With respect to water governance, she is interested in comparative evaluation of recent water governance trends across sites, from democratized water governance, to privatization and commodification trends, with particular interest in these processes in South Africa, Ghana and Turkey. With funding from SSHRC, UBC’s Bridge program, and other sources, Leila is also working with students researching comparative water governance in Africa; issues related to multiple use water in Bolivia; gender and wastewater management in Buenos Aires; and gender and fisheries in the Philippines.