Press release

“Decisive action” required from landmark water summit

Published on 21 March 2023

A major international summit could be the last hope in ensuring safe and sustainable water supplies for the planet, a University of Dundee expert has warned.

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Professor John Rowan, Director of Dundee’s UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, is an invited speaker to the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York, the most significant discussion of its kind in nearly 50 years, which begins on Wednesday.

He will be providing an update on an award-winning research project at the event, which will feature climate experts, leading scientists, and government representatives.

“Access to safe, clean water is a human right,” said Professor Rowan.

“Water is arguably the world’s most important natural resource, and yet humans have been abusing it for generations. The effects of this are clear on the lives of people and the landscapes in which they live.

“Changing this is a key part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, but to do this there is a real need to align the scientific and political communities to work on solutions. This summit has the potential to deliver real change for those that live with little water security, but failing to act swiftly could have catastrophic effects for communities around the world.”

The University of Dundee hosts several internationally-recognised experts on climate change and water security and is home to the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, the only facility of its kind in the world with an interdisciplinary focus on water governance.

In 2017, Dundee experts developed the Disaster-Resilient Floating Homes research project, designing and developing homes for Bangladesh capable of coping with extreme floods prompted by climate change. Professor Rowan has been invited to New York to present the latest iteration of this research, which has created a new demonstration project in Dhaka featuring construction materials manufactured from locally sourced bamboo.

“Water is essential for survival, and yet climate change means that flooding from rivers or coastal storm surges are also a threat to many people’s homes and livelihoods,” added Professor Rowan.

“There is an urgent need for us to protect water supplies for the world, and also to ensure that our abuse of the planet does not result in more people being unable to live where they wish to.

“This summit, finally, gives the global scientific and political communities the opportunity to come together and agree decisive action that can secure safe, clean water supplies for everybody. It is a beacon of hope for the world and one which must result in decisive action.”


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489