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Olcay Ünver to deliver Gerald Lacey Lecture

21 May 2021

The leading water expert will deliver the latest Gerald Lacey Lecture in June – focusing on food provisions and security.

Olcay Ünver to deliver Gerald Lacey Lecture

Former vice chair of UN-Water, Olcay Ünver, will deliver the Gerald Lacey Lecture, Land and water management for food security: the broad picture, on 7 June 2021.

Using food demand and growth projections, Ünver will explain why linearly proportional increases in the allocation of land and water resources towards increased food production are not realistic, given the trends in competing uses for these resources.

He will also touch on the alarm signals sounding from the planet’s natural resource base and how the pandemic has revealed the vulnerabilities in our food value chains, as well as discussing the response options available to the policy makers, based on most recent figures about the state of the resources and the trends.

Ünver – a global leader in water policy - is currently professor of practice at Environmental and Resource Management Program at Arizona State University and will assess the need and the opportunities for cooperation across sectoral and disciplinary boundaries.

“Gerald Lacey was one of the legendary names that we were taught about at civil engineering school and I am deeply honoured to be asked to deliver the 2021 edition of this lecture, instituted to commemorate him,” he said.

“Understanding the state of land and water resources, with a specific outlook toward water and food security, is essential for making the right decisions both in public as well as private sector domains, particularly at a time when the drivers of change have accelerated.”

As well as being an industry fellow at Australian Rivers Institute, and member of the Water Policy Group, Ünver served as vice chair of UN-Water from 2018 to 2020.

In a career spanning three decades, he led The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s water programs and activities, UN-Water’s World Water Assessment Programme, and UNESCO’s Program Office on Global Water Assessment.

Prior to joining the UN, he was a distinguished professor of water resources at Kent State University, Ohio and president of the Southeastern Anatolia Project in Turkey, where he transformed a large infrastructure project into a sustainable socioeconomic development programme.

In 1999, he was named a 'European visionary' by Time Magazine and was featured in The New York Times for his efforts towards sustainable, human-centered development.

Sign up for the Gerald Lacey Lecture - Land and water management for food security: the broad picture.

*The lecture has been rearranged from its previously scheduled date.

  • Moira Doherty, BHS Secretary