Conference Overview

Without water, life is impossible. Such a basic fact should imply that all human beings have, if they have any rights at all, a fundamental right to water. And yet, it was not until 2010 that the international community fully and explicitly recognized the right to water. That year, the UN General Assembly declared that “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights,” and called upon states and international organizations to work together to “provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.” Such belated attention highlights the growing awareness of a “global water crisis” that threatens the lives and dignity of billions of people around the world. Although the natural sufficiency of water is a real problem for some parts of the world, the scarcity that drives this crisis is, as the 2006 UN Human Development Report notes, “rooted in power, poverty and inequality, not in physical availability.” As such, addressing the crisis will require the mobilization not only of economic resources and scientific expertise, but of public participation and political courage at all levels of society.

In 2011, the WHO and UNICEF estimate that 786 million people use unsafe drinking water sources and 2.5 billion—36% of the world’s population—lack access to improved sanitation facilities. The human costs of these failures are staggering. According to a recent UNDP report, some 1.8 million children die each year due to unclean water or poor sanitation; almost 450 million school days are lost each year because of water-related illness; millions of women and girls spend several hours each day collecting water for their households, thereby reinforcing gender hierarchies and limited their educational and economic opportunities. Unsurprisingly, such consequences are not equally distributed around the world: water rights deprivation affects the poorest countries the most, with many Sub-Saharan African countries in particular failing to reach Millennium Development Goals for either sanitation or safe drinking water.

With these challenges in mind, the UNESCO Chair and Institute of Comparative Human Rights will convene experts, activists, officials, and scholars from around the globe to examine the scope and nature of the global water crisis, to discuss the legal and institutional basis of the human rights to water and sanitation, and to consider some innovations and best practices that have been implemented or advocated around the world. As the world prepares to define the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this conference will provide a forum for students, faculty, and the community to explore the centrality of the right to water in our effort to build a more just and sustainable future.


9:00am Welcome by Dr. Amii Omara-Otunnu, UNESCO Chair-holder
9:10am Remarks and Introduction of morning keynote
9:15am Keynote Address Dr. Peter Gleick, President and Co-Founder, Pacific Institute
10:00am   Break
10:15am Plenary Session I: Konover

  • Dr. Bandana Purkayastha, Department Head and Professor of Sociology, Moderator
  • Dr. Christiana Peppard, Assistant Professor of Theology, Science, and Ethics, Fordham University
  • Ms. Candace Ducheneaux, Environmental and Indigenous Rights Activist
  • Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega, Assistant Professor in the Public Administration Division of the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching, Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE), Mexico
11:30am Break
 11:45am Plenary Session II on Local Water Issues:

  • Dr. Phoebe Godfrey, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Moderator
  • Ms. Margaret Miner, Executive Director of Rivers Alliance and Vice Chairman of the CT Water Planning Council Advisory Group
  • Dr. Amvrossios C. Bagtzoglou, Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Professor of Water Resources & Environmental Engineering and Co-author on the Fenton River Water Supply Impact Study
  • Dr. Glenn Warner, Professor of Water Resources, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment; Director CT Institute of Water Resources; and Co-author on the Fenton River Water Supply Impact Study
1:00pm Conference Ends


Dr. Peter Gleick, Keynote Speaker


Dr. Peter Gleick is renowned the world over as a leading expert, innovator, and communicator on water and climate issues. He co-founded and leads the Pacific Institute based in Oakland, California. The Institute is an innovative and independent science-based organization that creates and advances solutions to the world’s water challenges.

Dr. Gleick’s work has redefined water from the realm of engineers to the world of social justice, sustainability, human rights, and integrated thinking. His influence on the field of water has been long and deep: he developed the first analysis of climate change impacts on water resources, the earliest comprehensive work on water and conflict, and defined basic human needs for water and the human right to water – work that has been used by the UN and in human rights court cases. He pioneered the concept of the “soft path for water,” developed the idea of “peak water,” and has written about the need for a “local water movement.”

Dr. Gleick received the prestigious MacArthur “genius” Fellowship and was named “a visionary on the environment” by the BBC. He was elected both an Academician of the International Water Academy, in Oslo, Norway and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Wired Magazine featured Dr. Gleick as “one of 15 people the next President should listen to.” He received his B.S. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Gleick serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author of many scientific papers and nine books, including the influential series The World’s Water and Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, as well as the 2012 release A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy.

Dr. Christiana Z. Peppard


An expert on fresh water ethics in an era of global resource scarcity and climate change, Christiana Z. Peppard is Assistant Professor of Theology, Science, and Ethics in the Department of Theology and affiliated faculty in the Environmental Policy Program and the Program in American Studies.  Her current book projects include (1) ethical analysis of modes of valuing fresh water in an era of economic globalization and (2) constructions and deployments of the slippery concepts of nature and human nature in light of scientific, theological, and philosophical depictions of materiality.

Dr. Peppard received her Ph.D. from Yale University (2011, with distinction), an M.A.R. in Ethics from Yale Divinity School (2005, summa cum laude), and a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University (2001). Her book, Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis explores the problem of fresh water scarcity in an era of climate change and economic globalization, and it charts a fresh water ethic from resources in environmental thought, moral anthropology, and Catholic social teaching (Orbis Books, pub. date January 2014).

Dr. Peppard is the author of peer-reviewed scholarly articles in venues such as the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Journal of Catholic Social Thought. She has contributed chapters to several edited volumes and, with the late Arthur Galston, she co-edited the book, Expanding Horizons in Bioethics (Springer, 2005), which argued for an expansion of bioethical discourse towards the horizon of the relationship between science and society.  Presently she is co-editing, with Andrea Vicini, S.J., a volume entitled “Just Sustainability: Technology, Ecology, and Resource Extraction” (Orbis Books, 2015). Dr. Peppard is a Fordham University Public Voices Fellow with the Op-Ed Project, and her work as an educator and researcher appears in prominent public media outlets including TED-Ed,, the History Channel, Microsoft’s Global Innovators in Education blog, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. She lectures nationally and internationally on fresh water, ethics, resource extraction, and religion and science.

At Fordham, Dr. Peppard teaches a range of classes, including: Human Nature After Darwin, Theology and Science, American Icons and Religiosity, Religion and Ecology, Environmental Ethics, and Faith and Critical Reason.

From 2009-2012, Dr. Peppard served as a lay member of the Board of Directors of America magazine, the weekly publication of the Jesuit Conference of the United States. Prior to joining the faculty at Fordham, Dr. Peppard was Cathedral Scholar in Residence at St. John the Divine in New York City and Visiting Scholar at the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham. Previously, she trained as a hospital chaplain and was part of a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar on Ethics at the End of Life (2003) while she worked at the Yale Center for Bioethics. She lives in New York with her spouse and exuberant daughter, loves mornings, and enjoys reading poetry, intellectual biographies, ecological economic theory, and histories of the hydraulic period of the American West.

Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega


Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega is an Assistant Professor in the Public Administration Division of the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching, CIDE (Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, CIDE, AC) based out of CIDE Region Centro in Aguascalientes, Mexico. His research is interdisciplinary by nature and lies at the intersection of space, public policy, environment and society. Dr. Pacheco-Vega is primarily interested in understanding the factors that contribute to (or hinder) cooperation in natural resource governance. While his major focus has been on sanitation, wastewater and pollution control, he is also interested in solid and hazardous waste management and urban/industrial restructuring.

Dr. Pacheco-Vega is now affiliate faculty, and from 2006 until 2012 was a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at The University of British Columbia and affiliated faculty in the Latin American Studies Program at UBC . From January 2010 until February 2011, he also held the position of Regional Director, Western Canada, for the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP) while also being CIELAP’s Lead Researcher on Water and Climate Change.

Dr. Pacheco-Vega is Associate Editor of the Journal of Environmental Sciences and Studies and sits on the editorial boards of Global Environmental Politics, Water International, Journal of Environmental Sciences and Studies and URBANA: Urban Affairs and Policy Research.

Dr. Pacheco-Vega’s previous research projects have focused on wastewater governance, comparative environmental policy in North America, industrial restructuring, urban sustainability and environmental NGO mobilizations. His current projects include a study of the global politics of sanitation, an analysis of intractable water conflicts in Mexico, an investigation of polycentricity theory (advancing the work done by the late Elinor Ostrom and Vincent Ostrom), and its applicability to Mexican water governance, a global study on the politics of privatization and remunicipalization of water supply, a project on the role of transnational private and non-state actors in North American environmental governance and a study of informal waste picking in Latin America.

Dr. Pacheco-Vega is member of the Consultative Group for the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (NACEC)’ North American Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry and has been a participant in the Canadian National Water Strategy Meetings.

His research and teaching interests include environmental politics, public policy, water governance, solid waste management, urban and economic geography and comparative and global environmental politics. His geographical areas of expertise and focus are within North America (Canada, US, Mexico) although in recent years he has gained an interest in Latin America (Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile). Dr. Pacheco-Vega considers himself a comparativist with methodological tools including quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as some expertise in geographical information systems (GIS), and more recently, field experiments (particularly persuasion).

Dr. Pacheco-Vega is passionate about undertaking applied, empirical work from which we can draw theoretical insights that advance our understanding of global environmental governance. His goal is to contribute to societal welfare through scholarship. He is an ardent advocate of Open Access and you can access and read many of his scholarly publications through his Academia.Edu page.


Ms. Candace Ducheneaux


Candace Ducheneaux is a Hohwoju Lakota elder from the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. She is a frontline veteran of many grassroots battles for social and environmental justice for the Lakota Nation and stands against the destructive human forces that have destabilized earth’s ecological system and threaten the existence of all humanity. As a mother, grandmother and recent great grandmother of twins, Ducheneaux is very concerned with the water needs of present and future generations. She works to insure that the people of her tribe – as well as all Red Nations – will have safe water in a world in which clean water is becoming increasingly scarce and a commodity beyond the means of many.

In 2012, Ducheneaux founded Mni, Grassroots for Water Justice, an indigenous led movement based on the reservation and dedicated to preserving the environmental integrity of our sacred mother earth through Lakota understandings of respect and of reciprocity. Mni, Lakota for water, works to restore the planet to balance by healing the world water cycle, reversing climate change and returning sustainability to the lands.

Mni will unite the indigenous nations of the Western Hemisphere in water and ecosystem restoration to impact the water cycle and lead the rest of the world to water sustainability, therefore bringing together global struggles for environmental sustainability, indigenous rights, and the undeniable human right to water.

Ms. Margaret Miner


Ms. Margaret Miner is the Executive Director of Rivers Alliance and Vice Chairman of the CT Water Planning Council Advisory Group and advocates on behalf of numerous environmental organizations throughout the State.  Ms. Miner has championed environmental rights for decades and has worked to improve laws that today help protect the quality and quantity of Connecticut’s precious water resources. The mission of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut is to protect and restore the state’s invaluable and imperiled waters. To this end, Rivers Alliance promotes sound, science-based environmental policies; works collaboratively and in coalitions to get results; encourages and aids local groups and persons working on water protection; and educates the public to understand, value, and defend our water resources.

Ms. Miner has received numerous recognitions and awards over the years and most recently, she was presented with the inaugural Dr. Marc Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award in recognition of her dedication and leadership in conservation of natural resources. Following the award presentation, State Representative Arthur O’Neill presented Miner with an official citation from the CT State Legislature commending her dedication to environmental stewardship throughout the State. Ms. Miner was also awarded the Clyde O. Fisher award by the Environmental Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association.  The purposes of this section of the Bar Association include safeguarding and enhancing conservation and environmentalequality, and promoting exemplary practice of environmental law.  According to the resolution establishing the award, it is to recognize service and achievement of individuals “who have made a significant contribution to the preservation or enhancement of environmental quality through work in the fields of environmental law, environmental protection or environmental planning.”

The Rivers Alliance serves to educate the broader community. Aside from facilitating presentations to small and large groups, they also publish educational materials, including materials on science topics not readily available to the general public such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus: Friends AND Foes and On-Site Wastewater Management In Connecticut: The Role Of Advanced Treatment Systems (ATS).

Dr. Amvrossios C. Bagtzoglou


Ross Bagtzoglou is Professor and Department Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut, where he teaches Water Resources and Environmental Engineering courses and specializes in numerical modeling of environmental and hydrologic processes. He holds a Diploma in Civil Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki-Greece (1985), a MS in Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology (1987), and a PhD in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Irvine (1990). He is a licensed civil engineer in Greece. Prior to joining UConn in 2002, he served as Assistant Professor of Water Resources and Geo-Environmental Engineering at Columbia University (1997-2002).

Professor Bagtzoglou has served as Editor for the journals Water, Air and Soil Pollution: Advances in Remediation Technology (2004-2006), Innovative Remediation Technologies for Pollution Abatement (2007-2008), and Environmental Engineering Topical Editor for the Encyclopedia of Earth (2006-2011). He has served, or currently serves, as Associate Editor for the journals Groundwater (1994-1997), Water Resources Research (1999-2004), Inverse Problems in Science and Engineering (2007-2009), Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment (2006–), and Journal of the American Water Resources Association (2003-2007). He is also member of the editorial board for the journal of Environmental Forensics (2003–). He reviews technical papers for more than 40 journals and has been member of several national and international professional organizations, namely

the AGU Hydrology Section Groundwater Technical Committee, the ASCE Groundwater Hydrology Committee, the Water Environment Federation Groundwater Committee, the IAEG Commission 14 (Underground Disposal of Waste), the DOE Subject Expert Panel, and the Long Island Sound Study Science and Technical Advisory Committee. In 2015 Professor Bagtzoglou served on the International Review Panel for the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and AQAD Evaluator for Civil & Environmental Engineering at UMass Lowell.

Professor Bagtzoglou has a record of more than 160 technical publications including 78 papers in archival journals, book chapters, and monographs. He has delivered more than 100 presentations all over the world and has taught as visiting professor in Ethiopia, France, and Greece. He has received over $12M in research funding as PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel. He is an elected Member of the Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering (2009) and New York Academy of Sciences (1999). He is an elected Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (2012), the Institution of Civil Engineers (2012), and the American Water Resources Association (2014).

At UConn his service includes being member of the Joint Highway Research Advisory Council, the Provost’s Academic Plan Environmental Committee, Environmental Policy Advisory Council (School of Engineering representative), and the CT Institute of Water Resources Advisory Board.

Dr. Glenn Warner


Dr. Glenn Warner is a Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at The University of Connecticut and Director of the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources, which is part of a national network of 54 water institutes. Dr. Warner received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Minnesota and his B.S. in Engineering from Iowa State University. He teaches courses in the areas of watershed hydrology, dynamic modeling of ecosystems, and water and solute movement in porous media. Predicting runoff from landscapes using dynamic, deterministic models, as well as understanding the physical processes of runoff generation are Dr. Warner’s general areas of research. Some current research topics include: 1) the influences of land use and land treatment on the infiltration capacity and associated surface and shallow-subsurface flows; 2) the roles of soil flora and fauna in the development of pathways for water and solute movement; 3) the application of watershed models to predict potential changes in stream flow with changes in land use and climate; and 4) the role of water conservation and water reuse in optimizing available water for both instream and out-of-stream uses. As Director of the CT IWR, he is currently involved in a state-wide planning effort for Connecticut involving analyses of both available water and water demand for the next 25 years. He was one of the lead PI’s in the

Fenton River study that analyzed the impacts of the UConn well field on flow and fisheries habitat in the Fenton River. Another current interest is the study of ancient water systems in Rome.


From Hartford/Boston:
I-84 East/West to exit 68.
Travel south on Route 195 for approximately 8 miles, and go straight through the intersections with Route 32 and Route 44. After the intersection with Route 44, travel up the hill and you will see the UCONN sign on the right,
followed by the fields on the left. At the intersection of Route 195 and North Eagleville Road (church on right),
proceed straight ahead through two traffic lights. At third traffic light, turn right onto Mansfield Road.*

From Southeastern CT:
Interstate 95 to 395 North. Take Exit 81 West to Route 32 North.
Follow Route 32 North to Willimantic. In town, turn right and proceed over bridge. Continue straight through the light and follow 195 North for 8 miles to campus. Proceed straight ahead, passing through Storrs Center. At the traffic light
immediately after Dog Lane Café, turn left onto Mansfield Road.*

*Follow Mansfield Road as it bears to the right and proceed to the first stop sign. Turn left onto Gilbert Road. At end of Gilbert Road turn right onto Hillside Road. The entrance to the SOUTH parking garage will be on your left, up the ramp, just prior to the Co-op.
GPS USERS: Use the UConn Co-op address, 2075 Hillside Road, Storrs, CT 06269.

Walking Directions to the Dodd Center:
Walking from the South Garage, cross Hillside Road and walk straight between the School of Business building (on your left) and Connecticut Commons (on your right). Continue straight until you reach the Whetten Graduate Center (large yellow banner on the building). Walk to your right around the Whetten Graduate Center and you will see the back entrance to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center straight ahead.
If utilizing a GPS, use the UConn Co-op address: 2075 Hillside Road, Storrs, CT 06269-1019 for the garage.


Conference Planning Committee:

  • Velda Alfred-Abney, Engineering
  • Phoebe Godfrey, Sociology
  • Lynne Healy, School of Social Work
  • Mark Healey, History
  • Elizabeth Holzer, Human Rights Institute
  • Michael Kurland, Co-Chair
  • Glenn Mitoma, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
  • Rafael Perez-Escamilla, Yale School of Public Health
  • Bandana Purkayastha, Co-Chair
  • Robert Yanez, Residential Life


  • Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
  • Office of Global Affairs
  • Human Rights Institute
  • Residential Life
  • Student Health Services