Upcoming seminar: 'The human right to water and sanitation: Progress in theory and practice'

8 Jun 2016

Join us for an exciting upcoming seminar, the first of it's series, exploring the progress of the human rights to water and sanitation in both theory and practise. Professor Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, headlines an impressive line-up of speakers in this public seminar at the University of Greenwich next Monday 13 June 2016.

The one-day seminar 'The human right to water and sanitation: Progress in theory and practice', is organised and hosted by the Public Services International Research Unit, part of the University of Greenwich Business Faculty. 

In his inaugural address, Professor Heller will present an overview of the normative content of the human rights to water and sanitation, exploring its relationship with the global development agendas of the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. This will include an examination of gender-related issues, and international development cooperation. Professor Adriana Allen, UCL will discuss the implications of the endless sources of uncertainty underpinning water and sanitation services for most urban and peri-urban poor: uncertainty about cost, about being evicted, about ever becoming connected to networked systems. Dr Kate Bayliss, SOAS will argue that financialisation – including the expansion of private financial capital into water ownership and the dominance of cost recovery water pricing - threatens to undermine the notion that water must be affordable. Dr Alex Loftus, King’s College London will consider the role of and possibilities for social movements in struggles over the right to water alongside broader struggles over the commons. Professor Andreas Bieler, Nottingham University will discuss the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Water and Sanitation are a Human Right’, analysing the reasons for the ECI’s success and assessing its impact on EU policy-making. All keynote speeches and a final roundtable will be followed by open discussions. Please see below for full biographies about the speakers and details about their presentations. 

Keynote speakers will address the following questions: 

  • How should we conceptualise the human right to water and sanitation? 
  • What individual and organisational factors are conducive to the realisation of the human right to water and sanitation? 
  • What policies and institutions enable the realisation of the human right to water and sanitation?
  • What knowledge gaps should be addressed more urgently? 

The event takes place at Hamilton House, University of Greenwich, 15 Park Vista, London SE10 9LZ, between 11am and 6pm, and all are welcome to attend. For further information please contact Dr Emanuele Lobina at e.lobina@gre.ac.uk or to register please email BusinessEvents@greenwich.ac.uk with: your full name, organisation, any special dietary requirements, contact number and confirm the event title. 

About the speakers and their presentations:

  • Professor Leo Heller: Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

The human rights to water and sanitation: taking stock, looking aheadAn overview of the normative content of the human rights to water and sanitation will be presented, exploring its relationship with the global development agendas of the MDGs and SDGs. Key issues for the application of a human rights approach will also be examined (e.g types of water and sanitation services, affordability of services, gender-related issues, and international development cooperation. 

  • Professor Adriana Allen: The Barlett Development Planning Unit, University College London

'Everyday infrastructural planning' in the urban global South': For most urban and peri-urban poor, the sources of uncertainty underpinning water and sanitation services are endless: uncertainty about cost, about being evicted, about ever becoming connected to networked systems. I argue that across the urban global South, the future is not one of networked systems but rather one of 'infrastructure archipelagos' that need to be thoroughly understood to bridge the growing gap between everyday and large infrastructural planning practices. 

  • Dr Kate Bayliss: SOAS, University of London

Financialisation and the human right to water: This paper first explored the expansion of private financial capital into water ownership. Second, the paper considers the way in which water delivery has become dominated by financial concerns with an emphasis on cost recovery water pricing. The paper shows how these two elements of financialisation threaten to undermine the notion that water must be affordable.  

  • Dr Alex Loftus: Department of Geography, King's College London

Within, against and beyond the human right to water: In this presentation I will consider struggles over the right to water alongside broader struggles over the commons. Acknowledging critiques of the right to water I will seek to understand the ways in which social movements might move within, against and beyond a more narrow framing of that right, thereby working to re-appropriate the commons. 

  • Professor Andreas Bieler: School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham

Fighting for Public Water: The first successful European Citizens' Initiative 'Water and Sanitation are a Human Right': Between 2012 and 2013 the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) 'Water and Sanitation are a Human Right' collected close to 1.9 million signatures across the European Union (EU), forcing the Commission into an official position on the role of water in the EU and wider world. This paper analyses the reasons for the ECI's success and assesses its impact on EU policy-making.