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Oct. 6, 2006

This Borlaug lecture holds its water

by Erin Rosacker

This year's Norman Borlaug lecturer brings water crises to the Memorial Union Sun Room Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. Margaret Catley-Carlson's multi-decade international career is now focused on pushing for policy change on water management and working with world leaders on alleviating a growing crisis.

Freshwater resources are dwindling while the planet's population is skyrocketing. What Catley-Carlson has to say will make you appreciate your next glass of water.

"The major issue is that global populations have tripled since 1950, and water demand has gone up seven-fold," Catley-Carlson said. "As we develop, we all use more water. The demand on water keeps increasing, and the amount of water that's available is always the same."

The urgency of the situation doesn't hit home for most of us.

"Why are we having a crisis in water?" Catley-Carlson asked. "Does it still rain? Is there water in the lakes? Why this new crisis?"

These are the questions she will tackle in her lecture, "The New World of Water." She will explain the water crisis -- how it happened, whom it affects the most and how to fight it.

Water management and water quality are important, but so is availability. Catley-Carlson will describe the literal battle scars of women who wait in long lines to fill up containers at the only water well within miles and then haul the day's supply back home. She also will talk about the impact of irrigation, pollution and water wars.

Catley-Carlson is chair of the Global Water Partnership; immediate past chair of an international center that focuses on arid land agricultural research; and chair of a water resources advisory committee for Paris. She serves as vice chair of the International Development Research Centre (Ottawa), as well as the U.N. Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. She has numerous other memberships and affiliations and an employment history that includes high-ranking posts at UNICEF, the Population Council, and the Canadian International Development Agency.

The Borlaug lecture series began in 2002 and is named for the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the World Food Prize. The annual lecture coincides with the World Food Prize International Symposium and features a speaker who is a leader in areas related to World Food Prize themes.


"As we develop, we all use more water. The demand on water keeps increasing, and the amount of water that's available is always the same."

Margaret Catley-Carlson