Press release

Ignorance “no longer an option” ahead of water summit

Published on 21 February 2024

The security of the world’s water has never been more precarious, a University of Dundee scholar has warned.

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Some of the world’s leading water experts will gather in the city on Thursday 22 February to determine new pathways to ensure safe, sustainable water supplies for all at a summit organised by the University’s UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science.

Academics from sister centre’s in France, Egypt, Kazakhstan, and Poland will be among those attending the symposium at Discovery Point, titled Shared Water Futures.

With a multitude of factors endangering our previous relationship with water, Professor John Rowan, Director of the Dundee centre, said that only coordinated global action could safeguard it for future generations.

“While we may take it for granted whenever we turn on a tap, the security of the water in our lives has never been more precarious,” he said.

“The climate crisis, global conflict and commercial and political pressures are all placing a strain on what is undeniably our most precious natural resource. 

“There is also a need to acknowledge that we need to protect our water sources for more than just human needs. The natural world – all animals and plant life – also depends on us acting as responsible guardians of our rivers and oceans.

“We are on the cusp of environmental catastrophe. To remain ignorant of water is no longer an option.”

The Dundee centre is the UK’s only United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Category 2 Centre. Established in 2008, the Centre works with global water scholars to coordinate efforts to keep supplies safe and sustainable for all.

The Dundee symposium will study all aspects of governance surrounding water, including efforts to conform with climate change laws, the emergence of new contaminants, the exploration of nature-based solutions to address pollution, and the impact of glacier recession on the environment.

Professor Rowan continued, “We initially intended for this event to be a discussion among local experts, but as we explored our programme it became very evident that we needed to look at these issues in a global context.

“Water knows no borders and how we use it here does impact elsewhere.

“Even here in Scotland, with our abundance of rainfall, our relationship with water is at risk of significant change. It is a danger we can no longer overlook.”


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489