On April 6th, the Tufts Institute of the Environment’s Water: System, Science, and Society Symposium (WSSS) program hosted the 9th Annual Symposium. The theme of this year’s symposium, “Water in Humanitarian Emergencies,” prioritized discussion on the intersection of gender and water, infrastructure and investments, and waterborne disease forecasting in the context of the rising frequency of natural disasters.
The WSSS Symposium is an entirely student-run conference organized by graduating WSSS students on the Practicum track. This conference in noted for its ability to bring together leading policymakers, executives, scientists, and academics, and the 2018 symposium was no exception. Over 80 individuals from a variety of sectors joined together to discuss the changing terrain of humanitarian crises. Some highlights of the symposium include the dynamic breakout sessions that featured Tufts' professor Daniele Lantagne, who spoke on the changing dynamics of emergency response in short and long-term disasters, the critical importance of creative solutions when supplying water in conflict zones, and the imperative in recognizing social constraints relating to resource access. Reese Tisdale, the president of Bluefield Research, lead another breakout session in her discussion of the necessary utility innovation to the water infrastructure of the U.S. The "Cape Town Day Zero" panel was the penultimate event of the conference, with leading thinkers from the Harvard Kennedy School, MIT, and Aurecon South Africa commenting on the causes and implications of the situation and the broad indications of global water use.
Julia Miller, TIE Intern and 2018 WSSS Symposium Planning Committee Member
"What made the 2018 WSSS Symposium so valuable was the emphasis the speakers and presenters placed on speaking with us as peers and individuals joining the water sector. All of the presenters emphasized the necessity of awareness when dealing with emergency situations; when it comes to water, you need to be aware of so much more! Above all, keeping yourself educated on current political situations is imperative prior to an emergency event so that you are knowledgeable and ready to react in a crisis."