The water scarcity crisis - fact or fiction? Gerald Lacey Lecture, London

15 May, 2017 | 18:00 - 19:45

The water scarcity crisis - fact or fiction? Gerald Lacey Lecture, London

About this event

The World Economic Forum considers water crises to be in the top three global risks in terms of impact. Both in the UK and globally, there are ominous predictions about the risk of running out of water and how this threatens economic and social stability.

However, are these predictions based on fact, or merely fiction of a worst case scenario? Does a water scarcity crisis actually exist, or is the real crisis a consequence of our inability to manage water resources effectively?

This annual Gerald Lacey lecture will be given by Professor Ian Barker, Managing Director of Water Policy International Ltd and Vice President Environment at the Institute of Water. Ian will provide a global and domestic view of the current state of water resources and how better governance, investment and management of water resources could substantially reduce the risk of the forecast water scarcity crisis.


18:00 Registration and welcome refreshments
18:30 Welcome from the Chair, Simon Howarth
18:35 Water scarcity crisis, fact or fiction?
19:20 Questions and Answers
19:40 Summation from the Chair
19:45 Close of lecture


Professor Ian Barker

John Beswick

Ian Barker is Managing Director of Water Policy International Ltd, an independent consultancy and commentator on water management, regulation, policy and governance. Ian is an expert advisor to the OECD, advising them on water governance, regulation and policy and is a founding member of their global water governance initiative. He is also Vice-President Environment, Fellow and Director at the Institute of Water; a Council Member at the Society for the Environment; a Director of the Water Industry Forum and a Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter Centre for Water Systems.

Ian has over 35 years’ experience in the water sector, including having had overall responsibility at the Environment Agency for water planning, regulation and management, as well as fisheries, biodiversity and land management, across England and Wales. At the EA Ian worked closely with Defra and was responsible for specifying the water companies’ programmes of environmental investment totalling £1 billion pa.  He also had oversight of their long-term plans for water supply security and drought management, and the management of all abstractions and discharges by all sectors. He now works with the OECD, UNESCO, water companies and major consultancies.


Simon Howarth MICE

Simon Howarth is Chair of the Irrigation & Water Forum (IWF) and Technical Director for Mott Macdonald, specialising in rural development, particularly related to irrigation and water resources.

The IWF’s primary focus is on water for agricultural development in the context of sustainable river basin management. They apply multi-disciplinary approaches to:

  • provide appropriate water for crops
  • prevent waterlogging and salinisation
  • protect land from flooding
  • maximise the beneficial use of water

In many developing country basins, irrigated agriculture uses about 80% of freshwater resources, and thus has a pivotal role in water resource governance.

The IWF maintains a regular series of lively and topical meetings in which sociological and economic aspects of water development are discussed, as well as the technical issues.