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Water Nexus Series I: exploring the relationships between water and other essential human needs

October 22, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

Water and Security

Tony Allan, King’s College London

Who determines the demand for food and who manages water?

Professor Allan, who has been credited with introducing the concept of “virtual water” into global water discussions, will highlight the role of the demand for food in determining whether society can manage sustainably the water resources on which food security depends.  Today many market players ensure that food demand is met by short and sometimes by very long global food supply chains embedded in global food systems.   Ninety percent of the water used by society is embedded in these food supply chains. The presentation will highlight the importance of the food choices of consumers. In so doing, the wasteful practices of food consumers and others that squander strategic volumes of water and energy along food supply chains will be discussed.   At the end of day, society must enable farmers to be good stewards of water. A first step is to understand the role of food supply chains.


Tony Allan [BA Durham 1958, PhD London 1971] heads the London Water Research Group at King’s College London and SOAS. He specializes in the analysis of water resources in semi-arid regions and on the role of global systems in ameliorating local and regional water deficits. He is considered the originator of the concept virtual water. He has advised  governments and agencies, especially in the Middle East, on water policy and water policy reform. His ideas on water security are set out in The Middle East Water Question: Hydropolitics and the Global Economy and in a new book entitled Virtual Water.  He is currently working on why the accounting systems in our food supply chains are dangerously blind to the costs of water and of misallocating it. He also works on the water/energy nexus. In 2008 he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in recognition of his contribution to water science and water policy. In 2011 he became International Academic Correspondent of the Academy of Sciences of Spain. In 2013 he received the international Environmentalist Award of the Florence based Foundation associated with the Gardens of Bardini & Peyron and the Monaco Water Award of Prince Albert II of Monaco.


Additional sponsors: Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations
Curriculum on Peace War and Defense~Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies~Department of Geography
Department of History~Institute for the Arts and Humanities


October 22, 2013
3:30 pm