Liquid Dynamics: Accessing Water and Sanitation in an Uncertain Age – Symposium Report

Working Paper

This report summarises the proceedings of the two-day Liquid Dynamics symposium held at the STEPS Centre in Brighton in November 2009. The Water and Sanitation domain of the STEPS Centre uses the notion of Liquid Dynamics refers to capture the complex dynamics and interactions between the social, ecological and technological dimensions of water and sanitation. The intention is to advance interdisciplinary perspectives that can guide practical action to help address issues of sustainability and social justice in water and sanitation. In the global water talkshops, such as the World Water Forum, water issues often end up being cast in rather polarised terms, such as whether water should be a human right or an economic good, or whether supply should be privatised or be in the hands of the public sector. The symposium’s aim was to break free of such sterile dichotomies, and to think more creatively about access to water and sanitation in an age of uncertainty, through bringing together a host of academics and practitioners in the water and sanitation domain.

The symposium focussed on four broad themes: climate change and uncertainty; urban and peri-urban challenges; sanitation and disease ecologies and rights, technologies and access. A range of diverse perspectives were aired and shared, and exchanges and debates were characterised by energy and enthusiasm. It is our hope that this event can provide a useful starting point for continued conversations and collaborative efforts, through the sharing of resources, follow-up discussions, and future conferences and research initiatives.