OWC Annual Lecture 2012
The Tay, the Nile
and the Hydro Nation
6th June 2012, University of Dundee
Market Garden proposed for Barry Buddon
This could have been the headline in Dundee's Courier and Argus in the middle of the 19th century according to Professor Rob Duck of Dundee University who gave an excellent presentation on the Tay at the second annual lecture of the One World Centre. Around 70 people attended, around half of them delegates to the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science symposium which was taking place at Dundee University.
Professor Rob Duck
Illustrating his lecture
"The Tay, the Nile and the Hydro Nation" was a lecture topic calculated to draw people in and everyone was really interested to learn that it was the development of the railway network around Dundee which led to the initial reclamation of the waterfront. The new railway lines having been built right down at the river it was necessary to infill the resulting stagnant pools with sewage, so destroying Dundee's beach area. In fact, Professor Duck told us that raw sewage was discharged into the Tay right up to 2001.
Even in the 19th century people were concerned about the amount of sewage being discharged into the Tay but not for the same reasons as we might be today. A nineteenth century report regretted that so much valuable “product” was disposed of in the river and proposed, as an alternative, that a large sewage pipe be built to transfer matter to the “desert” at Barry Buddon, which could then become a major market gardening area. However, the then Town Council found this too expensive a project to implement.
Now, the new pipeline takes human waste for processing at Hatton Sewage works near Arbroath, and as proof of the water quality there are dolphins to be seen in the Tay which is now the cleanest estuary in Europe (dolphins are a good indicator of water quality).
Equitable water distribution from the Nile
Ms Abby Onecan
Speaking about the Nile
Abby Onencan is from the Nile Discourse Forum which represents a range of NGOs from eleven countries on the African continent. She explained and demonstrated in video the difficulties of ensuring equitable distribution of fresh water between these riparian states. She told her interested audience that there have recently been high-level discussions between lawyers from these countries to which civil society organisations were not invited.
The Forum's belief in “One Nile, One Family” is aimed at widespread acceptance of joint responsibility for water quantity and quality. Rain-fed irrigation which is the system widely used is unpredictable, but essential to the growing of crops for the growing populations.
The major problem, she said, was poverty. In upland rainwater catchment areas, trees are being cut down for fuel, the ground erodes and water is lost. Towns and cities receive treated piped water, but rural areas mostly don't, with huge health implications.
Scotland - a Hydro Nation
Jon Rathjen spoke on the Hydro Nation as a representative of the Scottish Government. He began by pointing out that “We do all drink from the same well” as indicated in the title of one of the OWC books on display.
Mr Jon Rathjen
Explaining the Hydro Nation
He mentioned the potential of the £3M Climate Justice Fund with which the Scottish government hope to tackle “the huge injustice of climate change”. He said that “it is those who have done the least to cause the problem - the most vulnerable from the world's poorest communities - who are hardest hit by it” which is why Scotland is committed to supporting climate justice.
He spoke of the pride we should all have in the achievements of a publicly owned Scottish Water and of the expertise, both academic and technical, which has been built up in Scotland in the key issue of providing clean water and removing dirty water.
Law is an important background to this. According to the Water Resources Bill and the Hydro Nation Strategy, this could be an important export for Scotland in the future.
- The Tay: Professor Rob Duck, University of Dundee
- The Nile: Ms Abby Onecan, Nile Discourse Forum
- The Hydro Nation: Mr Jon Rathjen, Scottish Government
Professor Patricia Wouters of UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at Dundee University introduced the lecture The Tay, the Nile and the Hydro Nation "Water - our common resource: changing management and managing change".
Margaret Geyer, Convenor of the One World Centre, introduced the speakers and chaired the equally informative question and answer sessions. And at the following drinks reception which the OWC had organised, people were still discussing many issues raised in the lectures such as the ethics of selling Scottish water management skills and knowledge to poorer countries.
Professor Rob Duck is Professor of Environmental Geoscience
and Dean of School of Social and Environmental Sciences
at the University of Dundee.
He is an environmental geologist; in particular he is a sedimentologist with interests in the movement and transport of sediment by water on the surface of the Earth and the impacts these have on our environment. He has worked in many countries of the world, but most notably Scotland, on lake, river, estuarine and coastal environments with local expertise on the Tay Estuary and adjacent coasts.
For thirty years Rob has lectured to adult audiences on diverse aspects of the geology, landforms and scenery of Scotland with research interests extending into the realms of climate and sea level change, coastal flooding, erosion and the management of coastal zones.
He has published over 100 papers and book chapters, 60 consultancy reports, edited two books and presented conference papers at more than 60 national and international meetings. He is the co-author of the highly successful textbook Practical Skills in Environmental Science and is currently writing a new book aimed at promoting the public understanding of science, entitled This Shrinking Land - Climate Change and Britain's Coast.
Abby Onecan is Regional Manager of the Nile Basin Discourse (NBD),
a regional non-profit service organization recognized as the Nile Basin
leading authority on organized civil society networking to foster Nile Cooperation.
Ms. Onencan is responsible for the overall coordination and leadership of the 12 NBD offices towards achieving the organization vision. Before joining the NBD in 2010, Ms. Onencan was a European Union and Republic of Kenya Local Government Adviser in Nyeri, Kenya, a major local government support programme aimed at supporting water and other infrastructure projects aimed at improving the livelihoods of the rural communities.
Prior to joining the Ministry of Local Government European Union Support Programme she developed with a number of other people and managed the Government of Kenya "Results of Kenyan" Transformative Leadership program.
Ms Onencan holds an MSc in Education for Sustainability from the London South Bank University, an MA in Governance and Development from the University of Antwerp and a Bachelor of Laws from Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya.
Jon Rathjen is a team leader in the Scottish Government's Water Industry Team. He previously had a leading community engagement role in the Scottish Government's sustainable development and climate change policy, and also had responsibility for both the Scottish Strategic Environmental Assessment and the introduction of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.
Introducing the speakers
The One World Centre is open to all who care about global justice. Please see our membership page.
The event was held at Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee on Wednesday 6th June 2012.
By collaborating with Dundee University on the speakers and content of this lecture we have been able to bring to Dundee a very interesting and informative second lecture in our series. The University of Dundee provided us with an excellent venue and we look forward to working with them again.
Organised by the One World Centre in partnership with the IHPP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee.
The riparian zone is the green ribbon of life alongside a stream. This ribbon is a mixture of vegetation types, which varies greatly from place to place. Riparian zones are significant in ecology, environmental management and civil engineering because of their role in soil conservation, their habitat biodiversity and the influence they have on fauna and aquatic systems. The word "riparian" is derived from Latin ripa meaning river bank.
One World Centre - Annual Lectures
The One World Centre established its Annual Lectures to raise awareness of global issues, to highlight links between the local and the global and to empower people in Dundee and the surrounding area to take action to create a fairer world.
In 2011, the inaugural lecture in this series was given by Judith Robertson – Head of Oxfam Scotland. Her topic was GROW: Oxfam's campaign to help make sure everyone always has enough to eat.
She warned that spiralling food prices are set to tip the world into a new age of repeated food crises, similar to the one currently being seen in East Africa. The average price of staple crops, such as wheat and rice, will more than double in 20 years if urgent action is not taken to change the international food system, which is already failing to feed nearly a billion people a day.