Freshwater expert Postel to talk at E.N. Thompson Forum Nov. 1

Sandra Postel
Sandra Postel

Sandra Postel, a leading global authority on international freshwater issues, will discuss the growing competition for water and its effect on global security when she visits UNL Nov. 1 for the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.

Postel, an acclaimed author, consultant and lecturer, will present "Dividing the Waters: Global Security in a Water-Stressed World," a discussion of how growing competition for the Earth's freshwater supply will increasingly define economic, social and ecological security.

Over the past three decades, Postel has helped draw attention to the increased number and severity of water shortages around the world and how these shortages have led to economic disruption, food crises and societal strife, said Sandra Zellmer, Alumni Professor of Natural Resources Law at UNL, and an expert on water law and policy.

"Not only has she heightened awareness of our rapidly shrinking freshwater supplies, but she has also offered practical pathways toward sustainable water management solutions," Zellmer said.

The link between agriculture, food and water is a very relevant message for Nebraskans, especially considering the state's contributions to feeding the world, said Zellmer, who also serves on the board of directors of the University of Nebraska's Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute. Like Postel, the institute aims to help the world efficiently use its limited freshwater resources.

Postel serves as director of the New Mexico-based Global Water Policy Project, a water conservation advocacy organization that she founded in 1994. The project aims to foster ideas and inspire society to conserve Earth's freshwater and to manage uses that support ecosystem health.

In 2010, she was appointed Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, where she is lead water expert for the society's freshwater initiative. Postel is the author of several books, including "Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity." She also has authored more than 100 articles for popular and scholarly publications, including Science, Natural History, Scientific American, Ecological Applications and Foreign Policy. She is a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment. In 2002, she was named one of the "Scientific American 50" for her contributions to water policy.

This season's Thompson Forum lectures have been organized around the theme of water and global security.

To reserve free tickets, call the Lied Center at 402-472-4747 or 800-432-3231. Tickets may also be picked up in person or ordered by downloading a form from the forum's website, All tickets are for general admission seating.

Thompson Forum lectures will be available live online at, and on Lincoln Time Warner Cable Channel 21 or 5, UNL campus Channel 8 and UNL's KRNU radio (90.3 FM). Live satellite broadcasts and follow-up discussion will be available in Kearney, Hastings, Columbus, McCook, North Platte, Omaha and Scottsbluff.

Sign language interpreters will be available at each lecture for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The lecture series is a cooperative project of the philanthropic Cooper Foundation, the Lied Center and UNL. It was established in 1988 to offer all Nebraskans a better understanding of world events and issues.

- Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications

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