Delft, The Netherlands, 06 Oct 2017

Inaugural lecture of IHE Delft's new Rector Eddy Moors

On 3 July, Prof. Eddy Moors started in his new role as Rector of IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. On 5 October, Prof. Moors gave his Inaugural Lecture on the subject of 'Water – Wrestling with Wicked Problems'. In his lecture he talked about water and especially issues that deal with problems of water. Many staff, participants and external partners were present at his lecture.

Prof. Moors: ''How have I got where I am and why am I interested in wicked water problems? As a child, I experienced the tender touch of water when playing, swimming, and diving with the sensation of being weightless in a completely different world. Later in life, I also got to know the force of water while helping to rescue people from a capsized dinghy off the rocky shores of Spain; swimming to the bank of the Volta Noire in Burkina Faso after the boat from which we were attempting a discharge measurement, sank. I felt the need for water when staying in the desert north of Agadez in Niger, as well as the joy of water when it came rolling through the empty bed of the wadi. And the delight of water when taking the first sip of water offered by my host after a long hot day. These personal experiences made me addicted to water. This addiction, the fact that water has so many appearances, as well as my numerous observations that people may have completely different perceptions made me realise that a large number of water-related problems are wicked problems.''

Wicked Water Problems

Wicked problems are sometimes defined as problems that are difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.

Globally, much of the water for human consumption comes from rivers. There are more than 250 international transboundary river basins in the world. Those are shared by almost 150 different states and more than 2.5 billion people are relying on the availability of this water resource. This already shows not only the size but also the complexity of the problem.

There are a number of ongoing trends that may have a direct impact on the water sector, population growth and urbanization that lead to pollution, drought or floods, which in turn affect food production and changing migration patterns. In addition, there are trends that can contribute to solutions such as developments in IT and social media, and innovative technologies that, for example, ways to smarter irrigate and how we can derive energy wastewater.

Developing countries are facing huge water-related problems, thinking of an abundance or lack of water, bad sewer systems and limited knowledge of sustainable water management or a lack of well-educated people. There is still a major shortage of higher education that links technical knowledge to social economic knowledge and leadership skills for the water sector. With its academic programmes, IHE Delft addresses this shortfall, but the Institute must continue to listen to the needs of the practice and make its educational programmes flexible to respond to it.

For the research agenda, Moors sees a great need to integrate different academic disciplines in order to overcome complex water problems. He feels it is also important that IHE Delft intensify cooperation with donors, as well as with institutional and academic partners.

About Eddy Moors

Prof. Eddy Moors was head of the research team ‘Climate change and adaptive land & water management’ at Alterra (the Wageningen Environmental Research group). He is also Professor of Water and Climate at the VU University Amsterdam. He completed his PhD in 2012, focussing on the interaction between the atmosphere and the earth. Eddy Moors specialized in the research of climate change mitigation and adaptation. For more background information about Prof. Eddy Moors, please refer to this page.


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