Jun 06, 2008

Water Leaders Launch Water Policy Institute to Address Challenges

The Institute will address water-related issues and provide information to the public through its website

A consortium of water leaders has announced the formation of The Water Policy Institute. Chaired by former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, the Institute will address water-related issues and provide information to the public through its website. Kathy Robb, a partner in the Resources, Regulatory and Environmental Law practice at the law firm Hunton & Williams, LLP, is the founder of the Institute and will serve as its director.

The members of the Institute are water leaders representing water districts, multinational companies and energy companies who will discuss and review current challenges affecting both global and local water issues including supply, quality, use, wildlife and agricultural concerns and climate change. Members, including BP, Central Arizona Project and GE Water will develop white papers on current issues and provide thought leadership on legal and regulatory issues involving water and collaborate to propose sustainable solutions. The Institute’s Advisory Panel is comprised of leading water experts, among them scientists, academics, former government officials, NGO professionals and other prominent water leaders.

“I believe water is one of the most pressing environmental issues facing our world today. Water issues have escalated in our country and worldwide, with record droughts, threats to water quality, and cross-border disputes over water. The Institute provides a one-of-a-kind forum for water leaders to consider the problems and develop new ideas and potential solutions,” said Whitman, who is currently president of The Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues. “Water issues impact all of us, from companies that deliver and manage water and industries that require a reliable supply of quality water to operate, to individual consumers and those who work to protect our environment. The Water Policy Institute brings together various viewpoints in a quest for sustainable, workable solutions.

“Over the years, I have seen a number of changes in the issues surrounding water and its use, including new regulations and significant litigation between states and disputes between countries regarding water use, supply, allocation and quality. These and so many other water-related issues touch upon our individual lives as well as the operations of manufacturers, developers, suppliers, financial institutions, water districts and nearly every industry, worldwide,” said Robb. “Water is uniquely global and local. If you are going to address water issues, you have to start at the local level where people get their water but at the same time you must look at the global impact. Members of the Institute, who cross industries and geographic boundaries, will provide thought leadership on these legal and regulatory issues and policies.”

The Institute’s Advisory Panel members are: Leslie Carothers, president, Environmental Law Institute; Gabriel Eckstein, professor, Texas Tech School of Law; Paul Faeth, executive director, Global Water Challenge; David Freestone, senior adviser, World Bank; Craig Manson, professor, McGeorge School of Law; Tracy Mehan, principal, The Cadmus Group; Mark Van Putten, president, ConservationStrategy LLC; and Robert Stavins, professor, Harvard University.

“There are many critical issues surrounding water availability and use. I’m pleased to be part of this group which will provide a important forum for candid discussion and real-world solutions,” said Robert N. Stavins, a member of the Institute’s Advisory Panel and Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he directs the Harvard Environmental Economics Program. “This is an important time for public policy affecting water supply, water demand and water quality. The Institute provides a key venue for industry leaders, NGO representatives and others to participate in informed discussions, vital to arriving at workable and sustainable answers.”

The Institute is accessible to the public at www.waterpolicyinstitute.com, which provides information about water issues; a calendar of key water meetings and conferences; news, articles, legislative materials and speeches; and links to regulatory sites.