For 45 years, Gustavus has had the honor of hosting international experts for the annual Nobel Conference. This year is no different as the Gustavus community is preparing to host H2O: Uncertain Resource on October 6 and 7, 2009. This year the focus is on global issues pertaining to water. “This year’s conference should attract a broad audience because water is essential to all life and our supply of water is both finite and vulnerable,” Conference Chair Mark Bjelland said, according to the Gustavus website. “Water resources are bound to key socio-ecological issues, including global population growth, migrations to arid regions, increased use of irrigation, industrialization, climate change and international resource conflicts. This panel of world-renowned speakers will provide the Nobel Conference audience with an overview of water resources issues. They will help us understand the connections between these issues and everyday life in our country and around the world.”
The lineup for this year’s Nobel Conference is once again filled with many outstanding experts from all over the world. On Tuesday, Oct. 6, there are four lectures with varying topics.
At 10:00 a.m. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva, Switzerland, will focus on how climate change may further stress water resources, especially exacerbating problems of clean water access and food security for the world’s poor.
Nancy N. Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, will be presenting at 1:00 p.m. about the health of estuaries and coastal waters as a critical ecological and food security issue and indicator of unsustainable management of land and freshwater resources.
3:00 p.m. will showcase David Sedlak from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and his focus on the connection between chemicals, like hormones and other pharmaceuticals, in the waste stream and the quality of the aquatic environment.
The final speaker on Tuesday, at 8:15 p.m., is Derek Walcott, a poet and playwright. He is a distinguished visiting professor in literature and drama at the University of Alberta, Canada and is also the 1992 Nobel Laureate in Literature.
Wednesday, Oct. 7 brings another full day of notable speakers. Peter H. Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, CA, starts out the morning with a 10:00 a.m. look at the current state of world water resources and what the future might hold.
At 1:00 p.m. Larry Rasmussen, emeritus professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, will be presenting on the ethical issues involved in water resource management and its connections to the well-being of the planet.
The final afternoon session begins at 3:00 p.m. with Asit Biswas, president of the Third World Centre for Water Management in Atizapan, Mexico, speaking about the importance of water resources in alleviating poverty in developing countries and water as a basic human right.
The Nobel Conference concludes with a banquet at 6:30 p.m. featuring a keynote address from William L. Graf, chair of the department of geography at the University of South Carolina
A new feature to the 2009 Nobel Conference is a local forum on Tuesday night at both 6:15 and 7:00 p.m. During this session, area experts will be discussing local water issues and resources.
“Our local community is very much dependent on water. As an agricultural community, water is essential to our local economy and food supply,” Amy McMullan, senior political science major said. “The Nobel Conference often considers a given topic from a global viewpoint, but water resources need to be considered at a local level as well.”
Although the Nobel Conference is now sold out to the general public, Gustavus students still have an opportunity to pick up tickets. Contact the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication for information. For those students wanting to catch a glimpse of the Nobel Conference, it will be webcast live at gustavus.edu/nobelconference. And for more information about this year’s conference, go to gustavus.edu/events/nobelconference/2009.