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Conference | Symposium of the Water and Society Lab: U.N. World Water Day

U.N. World Water Day: Key Challenges and Opportunities to Sustainable Water Management

Friday 22 March 2019
The event is followed by a reception at the Anna van Buerenplein. Registration is compulsory; check out the registration form below.
Water and Society Lab: Water Talks
Anna van Buerenplein
Anna van Buerenplein 301
2595 DG The Hague

Water resource management is essential to sustainability, especially in view of global environmental change driven by climate, population, and land cover change activities. The topic is included within the U.N Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 6): 'Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.' As Leiden University and adjacent local organisations span a diverse range of expertise related to the field of water resource management, Leiden University organises a symposium to address key challenges and opportunities to the development of sustainable water management through a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspective.






 12.30 – 12.45

 Welcome and Opening Statements

 By Associate Professor in Physical Geography and Sustainability Dr. Paul Hudson


 12.45 – 13.45

 Water and Environment:

  •  Associate Professor in Environmental Science Dr. Thijs Bosker (LUC)
  • Assistant Professor in Energy and Environmental Change Dr. Paul Behrens (LUC/CML)
  • Associate Professor in Physical Geography and Sustainability Dr. Paul Hudson (LUC)
  • Policy Advisor on Climate Adaptation Natalie Lorenz (Delfland Water Authority)

 13:45 – 14:45

 Water and Governance

  • Assistant Professor in Environmental Economics Dr. David Zetland (LUC)
  • Policy Advisor Dolf Kern (Rijnland Water Authority)
  • Programme Manager for Adaptive Delta Astrid de Wit (Province  of South-Holland)
  • Chief  Resilience Officer Anne-Marie Hitipeuw (City of The Hague)

 14:45 – 15:00



 15:00- 16:00

 Water and Livelihoods 

   16:00- 16:30  Synthesis and 'The Way Forward' discussion
 Discussion led by Associate Professor Dr. Paul Hudson and Assistant Professor Dr. David Zetland
  16:30- 18:00  Reception and Drinks at Coasters  

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Fill in the form and join the discussion in The Hague during World Water Day!

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Discussion Panels

Effective governance is essential to assure water resources are available for environmental and human uses. Water management is increasingly challenging given competition from different stakeholders within the context of a growing population vulnerable to both water excesses and shortages. The tasks and responsibilities for water management occurs over varying governmental scales, which presents challenges to allocating costs and benefits unequally to different spacial, social and economic groups. This panel considers the governance of water resources to manage climate and environmental change at local and regional scales, especially within the Netherlands. A key question is whether segments of the highly sophisticated ‘Dutch approach’ can be applied to other settings, including developing nations.                                                           

Water is a vital natural resource, and access to sufficient and clean freshwater is key for society to thrive. But globally water resources are under tremendous pressure, ranging from overuse of groundwater, pollution of rivers and streams to the damming of rivers.  Climate change poses a key threat to water resources, in combination with predicted population growth and associated land use change. Changes in rainfall patterns, increased droughts, sea level rise and increased global temperatures, for example, will have adverse effects on the availability of water as a resource, forcing societies to adapt. In addition there will be significant impacts on aquatic habitats and associated biodiversity. The focus of this panel is on current and projected impacts of climate change on our water systems, with perspective ranging from global to local scales and including rural and urban perspectives. This panel integrates academic and applied insights to sustainable water management in light of global environmental change.

As specified in Sustainable Development Goal 6, better access and management of water supplies is crucial for improving health outcomes in both the developed and developing world. People also require water, however, for a range of activities relating to their livelihoods; restricted access or poor management accordingly threatens not only bodily, but also social and economic health. This panel integrates ecological, legal, and anthropological perspectives on understanding and improving aquatic livelihoods, particularly in Asian and African contexts, to discuss how water policy can better account for its entwinement in and impact on socio-economic life.


The U.N. World Water Day symposium is hosted by Leiden University. Water resource management spans a diverse range of expertises related to the interdisciplinary field, therefore multidisciplinary discussion panels address these key challenges and oppurtunities in the development of sustainable water management. The discussion panels are formed by academic staff of Leiden University and professionals from the workfield. You can find the overview of participants below.

Dr. Hudson’s research utilizes a field based approach augmented with GISc mapping and analysis of satellite imagery and historic cartography to examine water resources and changes to riverine landscapes. In broad terms Hudson’s research investigates human impacts on the environment, and specifically he examines flooding, soil erosion, river adjustment, sediment transport, as well as the management of floodplain and riparian environments. Hudson has received funding from the (U.S.) National Science Foundation and Fulbright Fellowship, as well as government agencies tasked with water management. Hudson has provided expert advice concerning environmental water resource management across a range of governmental scales; community, state, and national, including Dutch parliament (tweede kamer).

Dr. Behren’s research focuses on the energy-climate nexus using tools such as environmentally-extended, input-output analysis. Recent projects include estimating the impact of energy policy on environmental, social, and economic systems Enabling the flourishing of human societies within environmental constraints such as climate change will be a critical global challenge for many decades to come. A physicist by training, Paul has worked in several different fields, including; boundary layer meteorology, astronomy, acoustics, and science policy. Paul received his Masters in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Sheffield (U.K.) after conducting research on broad absorption line quasars at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in the Canary Islands (Spain). His Ph.D. is from the University of Auckland (New Zealand), where he developed acoustic remote sensing instrumentation to better situate wind turbines for the New Zealand energy utility, Mighty River Power. After his Ph.D., Paul provided expert scientific advice to the New Zealand government on environmental sustainability, language policy, GMOs, among other topics, at the Royal Society of New Zealand. He is passionate about science communication and was a National Radio New Zealand Science Commentator. He has worked in industry, NGOs, and academia.

Dr. Bosker’s research uses laboratory and field techniques to study the impacts of contaminants on ecosystem health, with a focus on stress-on-stress scenarios. He conducts his research in Canada, the US, the Caribbean and the Netherlands. He quantifies the combined impacts of contaminants (e.g. pharmaceuticals in wastewater, microplastics or oil residues) and environmental stressors (e.g. low oxygen or high temperature) on a range of organisms (including plants, invertebrates and fish). He assesses impacts at different levels of biological organization, ranging from physiological changes, to population and community level impacts, and uses this data to predict risk of contaminants on the environment.

In addition, Thijs is passionate about outreach. He regularly gives lectures to the general public, gives workshops to children and appears in the media (newspapers, television and radio). He also runs a citizen science project on microplastics contamination, thereby actively involving the public in his research efforts. Thijs received his MSc from Wageningen University (the Netherlands), and his PhD from the University of New Brunswick (Canada). Before joining LUC he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut (USA), and a postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian Rivers Institute. At LUC he is a member of the Programme Board, and the teaches courses in the Earth, Energy and Sustainability major, including on ecotoxicology, general biology, sustainability, environmental science and research design.

Dr. Annie Trevenen-Jones blends her international sustainable development experience, in Southern Africa, United Kingdom and the Netherlands with the on-going contributions in academia. Her work focuses on everyday ecological relations: people and planet; specializing in people, food systems and resilience. This specialization is at the nexus of planetary boundaries, economics, governance and the vision and goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.  In her area of focus, water vitally connects to people and food systems, the pursuit of sustainable, resilient cities and communities, prosperity and poverty eradication, zero hunger, climate action, water and sanitation and the address of life below water and on land (including biodiversity), land-use change, biogeochemical cycles and social-ecological risk.  Annie is part of the LUC lead team researching urban resilience in The Hague (Netherlands): people, household food waste (food systems) and food citizenship (2018/19). She lectures in/ and has lectured, courses at LUC, in environment and development, food security, prosperity and co-facilitated a research clinic (urban resilience).

Merlijn van Weerd conducted studies on wetlands and biodiversity & conservation in the Netherlands, Cameroon, Mozambique and the Philippines. In 2003 he co-founded the Mabuwaya Foundation in the Philippines which implements (wetland) biodiversity conservation projects. Since 2010, he organizes and mentors an annual month-long interdisciplinary course on water use and management in the Philippines for 15 Leiden University and 15 Philippine students. This course is offered by the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) and Cultural Anthropology (CA) of Leiden University and Isabela State University in the Philippines. He is interested to further develop interdisciplinary studies and education in relation to water and society.

Dr. Littlejohn’s specialties include political ecology and environmental anthropology, qualitative methods, ethnographic media (particularly sonic ethnography), and the anthropology of Japan. Prior to joining Leiden, he held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs’ Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University, where he received his PhD in Social Anthropology with a secondary field in Critical Media Practice in 2017. He has also studied Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University (M.Phil.) and Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (B.A.). Alongside his teaching and research, he produces works of audiovisual media with a particular focus on the ethnographic and documentary possibilities of sound.

Tessa Minter is an assistant professor at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. In her research and teaching, she focuses on environmental anthropology, with a specific interest in livelihood strategies of forest-dependent and coastal peoples in the Asia-Pacific region, and their adaptation to social and environmental change. Tessa’s research assesses under what circumstances environmental exploitation and protection benefit or harm rural people’s well-being. She particularly studies forest-dependent and coastal people’s livelihood strategies and their relationships with logging, mining and conservation activities in the Philippines and the Solomon Islands. Through her work, she aims to contribute to greater environmental justice.

Dr. Bedner’s research focuses on access to justice, dispute resolution and the judiciary. This has led to publications on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from administrative courts and environmental litigation to human rights promotion in marriage law regimes and Indonesian legal education.  Adriaan Bedner has done work of a more theoretical and comparative nature on rule of law and access to justice. He has been project leader and/or steering board member of several research projects in Indonesia sponsored by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, The Dutch Research Council and the Dutch Department of Foreign Affairs. At present he is in charge of the research involved in the co-operation between the Dutch and the Indonesian ombudsman, as well as the research component of a co-operation project between the Indonesian and the Dutch supreme court. He has supervised numerous PhD-students and has taught courses at Leiden Law School and Leiden University College.

Ms. Lorenz’s focus in on climate adaptation and water management in relation to special development at the Water Authority Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland. She studied civil engineering/hydrology and water management at TU Delft. Since 2017 she has worked on the program and platform of Klimaatkrachtig Delfland www.klimaatkrachtig.nl

At Rijnland Dolf Kern is the senior advisor for the programme “climate adaptation” (deluge, water scarcity, groundwater, land subsidence, regional developments). He represents the Netherlands water authorities in at the national Delta programmes on water scarcity and climate adaptation and the evaluation of the drought of 2018. He is also involved in several regional multi stakeholder cooperation’s on water management, land subsidence, urbanisation. Dolf is also a member of the steering committee on water system analysis at STOWA (research organisation for the Netherlands Water Authorities).

Dolf received an MSc in Hydrogeology (1988) from the VU Amsterdam, with supplementary course Sanitary engineering (TU Delft). From 1988-1994 he was at the Netherlands ministry for international cooperation stationed Mozambique as Hydrogeologist in de national Directorate for water. From 1994-2001 he worked for the drinking water company & BKH in consultancy as a senior Hydrogeologist. From 2001-2006 he worked for the Municipality of Amsterdam as Advisor on Integrated Water Resources Management. From 2006-present Dolf has worked for the Regional Water Authority Hoogheemraadschap van Rijnland as strategy advisor.

Drs. A.M. (Astrid) de Wit MPA (1971) studied public administration at the University of Twente in Enschede and at the Dutch School of Public Government (NSOB) in the Hague. After working for the local government for several years, she started to work for the Province of South-Holland in 2006 as a manager. Since 2017 her main focus is on climate adaptation. Astrid advocates a multidisciplinary and multi-level approach to cope with this key issue. Under her direction the province of South-Holland published in 2019 “Weather-resilient South-Holland” (Weerkrachtig Zuid-Holland). In this publication the province has analyzed the impact of climate change to provincial tasks and responsibilities, and the way the province can act in collaboration with other partners to keep South-Holland attractive and livable in the future.

Anne-Marie Hitipeuw is The Hague’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Prior to this, Anne-Marie worked for City of The Hague’s International Programme as Senior Strategic Advisor. She developed programmes on Big Data for Peace and Humanity, Urban Security and Water Diplomacy. She played a key role in the process of the City of The Hague becoming a member the 100 Resilient Cities Network. At the City Planning Department, she developed the policy framework for the urban investment agenda of The Hague and was project manager of The Hague’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan.

Before joining the City of The Hague, Anne-Marie worked for the engineering firm Arup on eco-cities in Beijing and Shanghai. She introduced decision support tools in the urban design process and worked with CBRE and other partners on models for measurement of the sustainability of cities. She gained expertise in the modelling work while working for the Environmental Simulation Center in New York City.

For UN-Habitat, she evaluated the implementation of Local Agenda 21 in Nairobi, Kenya. Anne-Marie holds an MSc in Urban Planning from the Technical University of Delft and an MA in Geography from the University Utrecht.

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