UPEACE Lecture Water A Source of Conflict or a Potential Peace Builder

Prof. András Szöllösi-Nagy, Rector of the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, based in Delft, the Netherlands, will deliver a speech on “Water: A Source of Conflict or a Potential Peace Builder?”

Professor Szöllösi-Nagy was born in 1949 in Budapest, Hungary. Since September 2009 he serves as Rector of the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, located in Delft, The Netherlands. He holds a Dipl. Ing. in Civil Engineering (1972), a Dr. Techn. (Summa cum Laude) in Hydrology and Mathematical Statistics (1975) from the Budapest University of Technology (BME) and a Ph.D. in hydrology from the same university. He earned the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degree from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1991. In the same year, he was awarded Dr. Habil. by the Budapest University of Technology. In 1992, he was made Professor HC and in 1994 full Professor at the same institution. Since 2009 he is Professor of Stochastic Hydrology both at UNESCO-IHE and TU Delft.He joined the Water Resources Research Center (VITUKI), Budapest, Hungary, in 1972. Between 1974 and 1976 he was research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria. His principle research fields included time series analysis, stochastic modeling, state space methods, adaptive systems, real-time forecasting and control of water resources systems using recursive algorithms. In 1976, he worked with IBM Italy on the Arno River Forecasting System. In 1981 he was Visiting Professor at the University of Luleå, Sweden, teaching stochastic dynamic hydrological systems and Kalman filtering techniques. In 1983 and 1984 he lectured on computer aided hydrological forecasting at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, Thailand. During this period he worked as a UN consultant on hydrological forecasting in Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia. He also lectured regularly on hydrological modeling at various UNESCO postgraduate courses in Budapest, Belgrade, Moscow, Delft and taught statistical hydrology at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Between 1985 and 1989, he was a regular visiting research professor at the Systems Department of the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada. From 1985 to 1989, he held the position of Deputy Director General at the Water Resources Research Center (VITUKI) in Budapest. Szöllösi-Nagy joined UNESCO in Paris in 1989 as Director of the Division of Water Sciences and Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP). He held those positions for 20 years. He also served as Deputy Assistant Director General of UNESCO. He had an active role in the creation of the World Water Council (WWC) and its World Water Forum series. Ever since its creation in the mid ‘90s he served, through six terms, as elected member of the Board of Governors of WWC.  He also served as member of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership and Chair of WWC’s Publication Committee. In his later capacity he launched the International Journal of Water Policy.  Over the past two World Water Forums he was co-Chair of the Political Processes Committee, including the ministerial conferences. He is the longest serving elected Governor on the Board of Governors of the WWC. In the previous cycle, as well as currently, he serves on the Bureau of the Governing Board of WWC. He also served on the International Forum Committee of various World Water Forums. He serves on the International Steering Committee of the 7th World Water Forum, to be held in Daegu in 2015, and chaired the International Programme Committee of the Budapest Water Summit held in 2013. He was a member, and earlier Chairman, of the predecessor of UN-Water.Between 1986 and 1989 he was the joint (founding) Editor of the International Journal of Stochastic Hydrology and Hydraulics (Springer) and Editor-in-Chief of the Hidrológiai Közlöny. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Water Resources Management (Reidel), Environmental Systems, the International Journal of Water Policy (IWA Publishing), Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development (IWA), International Journal on Landslides (Springer), and the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). He has also served as officer of various Committees of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), the International Association for Hydraulic Research (IAHR), the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) and the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP). He is member of the Board of the Stockholm Environmental Institute. Serves as member of the Board of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Water Prize.He was made an Honorary Member of the American Water Resources Association (AWRA); the IWRA Ven-Te-Chow Lecturer (1994); Chester C. Kisiel Lecturer (1999) at the University of Arizona, Tucson, US; Hydrology Days Award (2004), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, US; 2008 Tsinghua Global Vision Lectures speaker at the Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, and Walter Bean Professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada, in 2009. In 2005, he received the Distinguished Associate Award of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH). In 2008 he has been elected fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS). In 2011 he received the Dooge Award of IWHA and was the recipient of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Environmental Award in the area of freshwater. In 2012 he was awarded with the Water Visionary Distinguished Service Award by the WET Foundation, US.

Under his leadership UNESCO-IHE entered into a partnership with the University for Peace on water and peace issues in 2011.


Doors open:        16.30 hrs

Lecture:               17.00-17.40 hrs

Q & A:                  17.40-18.20 hrs

Drinks:                 18.20-19.00 hrs

If you wish to receive an invitation for the lecture, please send an e-mail to info@upeace.nl before 2 July. The number of seats available is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

This lecture is # 3 of a new Lecture Series on “Peacebuilding in Progress”.

The first lecture was held by Ms Judy Cheng-Hopkins, 7 March 2014, on "Peacebuilding: What, Why and How?"

The second lecture was held by Prof. Jan Pronk, 27 May 2014, on "Preventing Conflict Escalation. Hearts and Minds. Boots and Brains”.


Water: A source of conflict or a potential peace builder?


András Szöllösi-Nagy*



Fresh water is finite and universally sustains life as well as all aspects of human society. Its distribution, however, varies a great deal both in space and time, ignoring political boundaries and giving, therefore, rise to possible competition between uses and users. Increasingly felt global change phenomena, ranging from the impacts of population change, and derived changes, such as land use and migration, to those of climate variability, exacerbate the stress on world’s water resources. Increased industrialization, urbanization and agricultural needs, a growing world population and the need to adapt to climatic changes place high demands on the planet’s water resources — and therefore on our vital capacity to manage, govern and share water wisely. In a world with 276 river basins shared by two or more countries, the management of water across political territories requires particular knowledge and skills to decrease the potential for conflicts and find mutually acceptable solutions through cooperation among the stakeholders of a limited but vital resource, water. The presentation will overview the current global perspective on shared water resources with an attempt to identify major likely future challenges along with an outline of potential opportunities for solutions in the context of transboundary watersheds and aquifers. There is a growing consensus in international environmental politics that water is going to be one of the main, if not the main, issues of the 21st Century. Ever since the 1997 special session of the UN General Assembly freshwater is recognized as a global issue. Some even talk about a looming water crisis and that humanity is running out of water. Several regional case studies will be presented.

* DSc, PhD, Rector, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands

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