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Friday 31 Jan 2020Four meals away from anarchy - water and food security

Prof Ian Barker - Water Policy International Ltd

Harrison 103 14:35-15:25


MI5's maxim is that society is only four meals away from anarchy. Lenin took the view that it is only three meals away from chaos. Either way, food security clearly matters. Food security depends on water security, but many countries fail to manage farmers' demand for water sustainably, or to control pollution from agriculture. The result is tension between urban populations and farming businesses, as scarce, uncertain and polluted water supplies face increasing pressures from both sectors around the world. This lecture will explore how those tensions arise, what is being done to address them, what happens when they are ignored, and why it's different in the UK. So far...


Ian Barker is an independent consultant specialising in water governance, strategy, regulation, supply security and river basin management. He is Vice-President Environment, Fellow and Director at the Institute of Water; a Director of the Society for the Environment; a Director of the Water Industry Forum and a Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter Centre for Water Systems.

Ian has over 35 years’ experience in the water sector, including having had overall responsibility at the UK Environment Agency for water planning, regulation and river basin management, as well as fisheries, biodiversity, and farming and land management, across England and Wales. At the EA Ian worked closely with the UK government and was responsible for specifying the water companies’ programmes of environmental investment totalling 1 billion pounds per annum. He also had direct oversight of their long-term plans for water supply security and drought management, and the regulation of abstractions and discharges by all sectors.

He is an expert advisor to the OECD, and has worked as part of their team on three in-depth reviews of water governance and management in the Netherlands, South Korea and Brazil. He has also been invited by the Chinese, Tanzanian and South African governments to discuss water strategies and management. Other clients have included UNESCO, development banks, the UK and other governments, water companies and major consultancies.

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