"Meaningful Interdisciplinarity: Challenges and Opportunities for Water Research"

24-25 April 2002



The Nissan Theatre
St. Antony’s College


School of Geography and the Environment
of Oxford


* A transcription of most papers presented will be available for downloading in this site.

Dr José Esteban Castro
School of Geography and the Environment
University of Oxford

Co-ordinator's Introduction to the Conference

Prof. Johan Goudsblom
Amsterdam School of Social Science Research
University of Amsterdam

Paper title: "Water control and fire control. The formation and functions of two socio-ecological regimes"

Prof. Joan Martínez Allier
Department of Economics and Economic History
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Paper title: "Defending the rivers against development, and other water conflicts"

Dr. Erik Swyngedouw
School of Geography and the Environment
University of Oxford

Paper title: "Governance, water, and globalisation: a political-ecological perspective"

Mr Laurence Whitehead
Nuffield College
University of Oxford

Paper title: "Meaningful interdisciplinarity in water research"

Dr Matthew Gandy
Department of Geography
University College London

Paper title: "Rethinking urban metabolism: theoretical perspectives on the study of water, sanitation and cities"

Dr Jouni Paavola
Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE)
University of East Anglia

Paper title: "Economics of water supply and sanitation services: towards a new institutional approach"

Ms Geraldine Dalton
School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London

Paper title: "The sustainable financing of water supply services: the case of rural water supplies in Developing Countries"

Dr Neil Summerton
Oxford Centre for Water Research
University of Oxford

Paper title: "Water sector policy and institutional reform: lessons from the UK"

Mr Jeff Delmon
Construction and Projects Groups
Allen & Overy

Paper title: "Water Projects: Problems, Pitfalls and the Interests of the Poor"

Mr Jon Bateman
Halcrow Management Sciences Ltd

Paper title: "Experiences in promoting Private Sector Participation in the water sector in former Soviet Countries"

Dr Bernard Barraqué
Ecole Nationale de Ponts et Chaussées

Paper title: "Can the Europeans afford their water services in the long run?"

Mr Alexander Loftus
School of Geography and the Environment
University of Oxford

Paper title: "After the spin: problems with the Buenos Aires water concession"

Dr Ben Page
St Peter’s College and Mansfield College
University of Oxford

Paper title: "Accumulation by dispossession: communities and water privatisation in Cameroon"

Dr Karen Bakker
Jesus College
University of Oxford

Paper title: "From public to private to...public? Privatisation, commercialisation, and recent proposals for mutualisation of water supply in England and Wales"

Mr Simon Watt

Paper title: "The socio-political landscapes of privatization: challenges and alternatives to current international efforts"

The speakers

Johan Goudsblom is Professor Emeritus in sociology at the University of Amsterdam. His current affiliation is with the Amsterdam School of Social Science Research. He received his training in social psychology at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., and the University of Amsterdam. He held fellowships and guest professorships at Princeton University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Konstanz, the University of Exeter, the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), and All Souls College (Oxford). His books in English include Dutch Society (1967), Sociology in the Balance (1977), Nihilism and Culture (1980), Fire and Civilization (1992), The Course of Human History (with Eric Jones and Stephen Mennell, 1996), Norbert Elias on Civilization, Knowledge and Power (with Stephen Mennell, 1998), The Norbert Elias Reader (with Stephen Mennell, 1998), and Mappae Mundi. The Changing Relations of Humans and the Biosphere (with Bert de Vries, forthcoming 2002).

Joan Martinez Allier is Full Professor at the, Dpt. of Economics and Economic History, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, since 1975. Research Fellow, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, 1966-75. Visiting fellowships or professorships at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (S. Paulo), 1974, Freie Universitaet Berlin, 1980-81, St. Antony's College, Oxford, 1984-85, Stanford University and Univ. of California (Davis), 1989, FLACSO, Quito, 1994-95, Yale University, 1999-2000. Director, doctoral programme in Environmental Sciences (Ecological Economics and Environmental Management), UAB, since 1997. Member of editorial board of Journal of Peasant Studies, Journal of Agrarian Change, Ecological Economics, Environmental Values, Structural Dynamics and Economic Change... Editor of Ecología Política since 1990. Member of the Scientific Committee, European Environment Agency since 2000. Founding member, International Society for Ecological Economics, and European Association of Environmental and Resource Economics. Member of the council, Institut fuer Oekologische Wirtschaftsforschung, Berlin, member of the Gruene Akademie, Heinrich Boell Stiftung. Honorary rector, Instituto de Estudios Ecologistas del Tercer Mundo, Quito. Author (books) of Ecological Economics (Energy, Environment and Society), Blackwell, Oxford, 1987, Varieties of Environmentalism (with R. Guha), Earthscan, London and Oxford U.P., Delhi, 1997, The Environmentalism of the Poor - a Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham. U.K., Northampton MA, 2002).

Erik Swyngedouw is University Reader in Geography and Fellow of St. Peter’s College. His main interests are in political economy and political ecology. Recent research includes work on technological change and industrial restructuring, urban-regional development in the European Union, the structure of the international financial system and the political ecology of water. In addition, he is interested in socio-spatial theory, in particular from a critical perspective. Recent publications include “The Contradictions of Urban Water Provision in Latin America”, in: Third World Planning Review, (1995) Vol. 17, No.4, pp. 387-405; “Producing Futures: Global Finance as a Geographical Project”, in: Daniels P.W./Lever W.F. (Eds.) (1996), The Global Economy in Transition, Longman, Oxford and London, pp. 135-163; “Reconstructing Citizenship, The Re-Scaling of the State and the New Authoritarianism. Closing the Belgian Mines”, in: Urban Studies (1996), Vol. 33(8), pp.1499-1521; “La Reconstruction de la Choréographie Espace/Temps de Ia Monnaie Mondiale”, in: Espaces et Sociétés (1997), Nr. 88-89, pp. 53-90; “Power, Nature and the City. The Conquest of Water and The Political Ecology of Urbanization: Guayaquil, Ecuador: 1880-1980, Environment and Planning A (1997) 29(2), pp. 311-332; “Excluding the Other: The Contested Production of a New ‘Gestalt of Scale’ and the Politics of Marginalisation”, in: Lee R, and Vills J. (Eds.) (1997), Society. Place, Economy. States of the Art in Economic Geography, Edward Arnold, London, pp. 167-l76; “Neither Global nor Local: ‘Glocalization’ and the Politics of Scale”, in: Cox K. (Ed.) (1997), Spaces of Globalization: Reasserting the Power of the Local, Guilford/Longman, New York/London; “Homing in and Spacing out. Re-Configuring Scale”, in: Gebhart H. (Ed.) (1998), Europa im Globalisieringsprozess von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, pp. 81-100; “Authoritarian Governance, Power and the Politics of Rescaling”, in: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (1999).

Laurence Whitehead is an Official Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College, Oxford University and Senior Fellow of the College. Next year he will chair the Area and Development Studies Committee of the University’s Social Science Division. He also does graduate teaching in contemporary Latin American politics and economic policy at Oxford’s Latin American Centre, and has held various appointments as a visiting scholar at universities in the USA and Latin America. Most recently he was a senior visitor at the Center for International Studies of the University of Southern California, where he served as co-ordinator of the 1995 ‘Southern California Workshop on Economic and Political Liberalization’. In 1980-81 he was Senior Research Officer at the Latin American Program of the Wilson Center, responsible for a large scale comparative project on ‘Transitions from Authoritarian Rule and Prospects for Democracy in Latin America and Southern Europe’. The fruits of that research were published in four volumes in 1986 by the Johns Hopkins University Press (Transitions from Authoritarian Rule edited by Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe Schmitter and Laurence Whitehead). In 1985-86 he was Acting Program Director at the Center for US-Mexico Studies, University of California, San Diego. He served as Chairman of Oxford University, Social Studies Faculty during 1990-1992 and has served on the General Board of the University 1997 - 2000. Since 1989 he has been co-editor of the Journal of Latin American Studies published by Cambridge University Press. He is also editor of an Oxford University Press book series, ‘Studies in Democratization’. The first book in the series (Laurence Whitehead [Editor] International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas) was published in 1996. Ten books have been published in this series so far. His latest publication is: John Crabtree and Laurence Whitehead (eds.) Towards Democratic Viability: The Bolivian Experience (Palgrave, 2001).

Matthew Gandy is Lecturer in Geography at University College London. He has published widely on cultural, urban and environmental themes and his most recent book is Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City, (MIT Press, 2002). He is just beginning a new ESRC funded research project with fieldwork in the USA, France, Germany and Nigeria entitled “Cyborg urbanization: theorizing water and urban infrastructure”. He is co-editor of The Return of the White Plague: Global Poverty and the “New” Tuberculosis (Verso, 2002). His recent papers include “The Paris sewers and the rationalization of urban space”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (1999) 24 (1), pp. 23-44, “Landscape, aesthetics and ideology” Géographie et Cultures (2001) 39 pp. 108-115, and “Between Borinquen and the barrio: radical political activism in the New York City Puerto Rican Community 1969-1972 (2002) Antipode 34 (4).

Jouni Paavola is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE) at the University of East Anglia. He is also an Associate Fellow of Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics, and Society (OCEES), Mansfield College, Oxford. At CSERGE, his research focuses on justice and fairness in a five-year research programme on environmental decision-making funded by the ESRC. He has authored a number publications on ethics, economics and history of environmental policy in journals such as Environment and History, Forum for Development Studies, and Review of Social Economy. He has also been the managing editor of Environmental Science and Policy. His recent publications include an anthology titled Economics, Ethics and Environmental Policy: Contested Choices (Blackwell, 2002) and co-edited with Daniel W. Bromley from the University of Wisconsin. He currently writes a monograph titled “Environmental Resources, Institutional Arrangements and Economic Development” and edits an anthology titled Reconceiving Environmental Values in a Globalizing World, to be published by Routledge. He has earlier worked as a research fellow at OCEES and as a researcher at Tampere University of Technology and at the Finnish Competition Authority in Finland. He received his Ph.D. in Resource Development (Environmental and Development Studies) in 2000 at Michigan State University in the United States. He also holds postgraduate degrees in Civil Engineering from Tampere University of Technology.

Geraldine Dalton is a Ph. D. student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She gained her first degree in Civil Engineering at Clare College, University of Cambridge (1993) and an MSc in Development Studies at SOAS (2001). She has been Assistant Manager at the Commercial Banking Division of Lloyds Bank Plc (London 1994-96), a Senior Associate in Financial Institutions Risk Management at the Bankers Trust Company (London, 1997-99), and Assistant Vice President in Capital Markets Credit at The Chase Manhattan Bank (London, 1999-00). During her MSc at SOAS she carried out research on private sector participation in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Her report, “Private sector finance for water sector infrastructure: what does Cochabamba tell us about using this instrument?”, was published by the SOAS Water Issues Group – Occasional Paper No. 37 and is available online at: SOAS Occasional Papers. Her doctoral dissertation looks at “Financing Water and Sanitation Services in Developing Countries”.

Neil Summerton combines the tasks of Director of the Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics and Society at Mansfield College Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Water Research within the Environmental Change Institute in the University of Oxford. He is a fellow of Mansfield College. He is also a non-executive director of Three Valleys Water and Folkestone and Dover Water Services (Vivendi subsidiaries) and advises Vivendi Water UK on economic and environmental regulation and water industry organisation. In 2000, he was a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the fixing of water prices limits in the 1999 periodic review; and a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Environment Select Sub-committee for their review of the draft Water Bill. For many years he was a career policy adviser in the UK government in the Department of the Environment. Between 1974 and 1985 he worked successively on inner cities policy, commercial property development, and a number of aspects of housing policy. Promoted Under-Secretary in 1985, he was Director land-use planning and development 1985-88, Director Local Government Finance 1988-91, Director Water 1991-95 and Director Water and Land 1996-97. He has written extensively on public policy ethics, water policy, and history, including “The development of environmental policy in the European Union” in The Journal of Policy Studies (Kwansei Gakuin University Policy Studies Association), No. 5, March 1998, pp. 107 – 117, and “The British way in water” in Water Policy, vol. 1 (1998), pp. 45 – 65.

Jeff Delmon is a US/UK qualified lawyer and a senior associate in the Construction and Projects Groups at the law firm of Allen & Overy. He specialises in advising on major international infrastructure projects and has experience of a wide range of projects, acting for governments, project sponsors, lenders and contractors. These projects include water, sewage, power stations, industrial plant, telecoms, railway and other infrastructure projects. He has advised on water and waste water projects in Belize, England, Indonesia, West Africa, Holland, South Africa, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, India and Malaysia. Jeff is author of "Water Projects: A commercial and contractual guide" (2001) and "BOO/BOT Projects: A commercial and contractual guide" (2000) and co-author of "A Contractual Guide to Major Construction Projects" (2000) as well as numerous articles.

Jon Bateman is a chartered civil engineer and a Director of Halcrow Management Sciences Ltd, the Specialist Company within Halcrow that focuses on utility regulation and advisory services. He is an expert in water utility business planning and regulation and is nominated Reporter to Regulator Ofwat for Severn Trent and Wessex which together provide water and sewerage services to around 10 million people. He is currently a leading advisor on water sector matters world-wide, Technical Adviser to the Department of Rural Development in Northern Ireland and Advisor to Highways Agency on the impact of Lane Rental charges on Utility Services. Following a key role in privatisation of the English and Welsh water businesses, he assisted Ofwat in establishing the regulatory regime for performance monitoring and price setting. He assists leading funding agencies on transition programmes and public-private partnerships in the water sector. In a key current project he is adviser to UK’s Department for International Development for protecting the interests of low-income groups under water utility PSP transition programmes. Over his career he has directed due diligence projects for water sector acquisitions and private sector participation and advises funding agencies on water policy in the UK and overseas.

Bernard Barraqué is a French civil engineer (National School of Mines, Applied Maths) who became a city planner (Harvard University), and later a doctor in urban socio-economic analysis (at Paris IX University). In his professional activity, he has focused on local public environmental policies, first as a consultant, and then as a lecturer and a free lance researcher. He obtained a CNRS full time position in 1988, in the newly created section devoted to architecture, urban planning and society. Since then he is attached to an interdisciplinary laboratory, Technology, Territories and Societies (LATTS), which is a joint venture between the oldest civil engineering school in the world, the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, and two Universities (Paris XII in Creteil, and University of Marne la Vallée). His major theme of research now covers water related European public policy, at various territorial levels. He has published the first systematic analysis of water policies across the 15 member States of the European Union (Les Politiques de l’Eau en Europe, Paris, La Découverte, 1995 ; translated into Portuguese and Italian), as well as several articles in the major European languages. He has also done some socio-historical research on other environmental issues like noise control, landscape preservation and parks systems, solar energy, flood control, and territorial environmental policies. Barraqué was promoted to Research Director in 1996, and he is the French partner of the Eurowater network devoted to the comparative study of European water policies and their sustainability (Eurowater - Water 21 Project). He also serves on the editorial boards of several planning and policy periodicals in France and in the U.S.A., and is member several organizations including the French National Council on Noise, the Scientific Councils of two regional water boards, the Académie de l’Eau, and the French Institute for Environmental Statistics (IFEN. Together with Jacques Theys, a high ranking civil servant in the ministries of Environment and Town planning, he just edited the first thorough assessment of French environmental policies in a European perspective (Les Politiques de l’Environnement. Évaluation de la Première Génération, Ed. Recherches, 1998). One chapter of the book is a synthesis of his past research on the greening of municipal policies.

Alex Loftus is a DPhil student in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. He gained his Bachelors degree in geography from the University of Edinburgh and an MA from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. His Master’s research was on the political ecology of water privatisation in Buenos Aires and during this time he conducted additional research for the Municipal Services Project based at Queen’s University and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. For his DPhil, Alex’s research focus has shifted to South Africa where he is looking at the debates and struggles around private sector involvement in the Durban water sector. He is co-author with David A. McDonald of the paper “Of Liquid Dreams: a political ecology of water privatisation in Buenos Aires” published in Environment and Urbanization Vol 13, No. 2 (2001), pp 179-199.

Ben Page is a development geographer with particular interests in West Africa especially Cameroon and Nigeria. His research is based on histories of water management, water privatisation and community development. He is also interested in economic geography, particularly in relation to water, governance, participation and citizenship in the European Union. He is currently a College Lecturer at St Peter's College and Mansfield College. He gained his BA (1993) and DPhil (2000) at Oxford and his MSc at Cranfield University (1994). He lives in Witney, Oxfordshire, and is active in local politics. Among his recent publications are: “Taking the Strain - the ergonomics of water carrying”, Waterlines, 1996, 14(3), pp. 29-31; “The Ergonomics of Water Carrying”, Proceedings of the 2nd Western Africa Conference on Water and the Environment, Accra, Ghana, July 16th-19th,1996; (with C. Katz, L. Berg, K. Morin, K. K. Simonson, K. Bakker, E. Swyngedouw, G. Pratt, and G. Uribe-Ortega, G. “Lost and found in the posts: addressing critical human geography”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 1998, 16(3), pp. 257-278; “Urban agriculture in Cameroon: an anti-politics machine in the making?”, Geoforum, 2001, 33(1), pp. 41-54.

Karen Bakker is currently a Research Fellow in Water and Environmental Management at Jesus College and the Oxford University's Centre for Water Research, and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography, University of British Columbia. She has conducted research on water supply privatisation in Britain, continental Europe, Latin America, South-east Asia, and South Africa, with a focus on regulatory institutions and distributive impacts of privatisation. Her book From Commons to Commodity: Privatising water in England and Wales will be published by Oxford University Press in 2003. Recent publications include: (2001) “Paying for Water: Water charging and social justice in England and Wales”, Transactions for the Institute of British Geographers 26, 143 - 164; (2000), “Privatising water, producing scarcity: the Yorkshire drought of 1995”, Economic Geography 76 (1), 4 - 27; (2000) “Privatising water: Hydropolitics in the new South Africa” South African Journal of Geography 82, 3 - 12 (with David Hemson); (1999) “The politics of hydropower: Developing the Mekong” Political Geography 18(2), 209 – 232.

Simon Watt is a planner and an economist working at Modus-Consult, Denmark. He has a 25 year-long professional career in environmental regulation and management, institutional development and public policy, local government, municipal and public services management, economic and financial planning and appraisal. He has worked extensively for central and local government departments, development banks (WB, ADB, EBRD), and support agencies (EU, USAID, Danida, Depa, Danced, GTZ, NORAID, AusAID, UNDP) in a wide range of countries including Australia, Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon Malaysia, New Zealand, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Pakistan, Philippines, PNG, Romania, Russia, Senegal, and Thailand. He is also member of the Development Studies Association, the Asian Housing Rights Coalition, and the Institute of Water and Environmental Managers.


General Coordination: José Esteban Castro
Logistic Assistance: Martin Langsam, University of Oxford

We are also very grateful to Alan Knight (St Antony's College), Laurence Whitehead (Nuffield College, Oxford), David Johnstone (Independent consultant), David Hall (University of Greenwich-PSIRU), and Bronwen Morgan (Wadham College) for their collaboration.

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