Globalisation and the grabbed commons: new insights on the Water Wars myth

2020 Green Templeton Lecture Series on the Future of the Commons

Thursday 6 February 2020   18:00


Assistant Professor Jampel Dell’Angelo, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

This is the second of the 2020 Green Templeton Lectures on the Future of the Commons.

Scholars have argued against the thesis that water will lead to war, instead demonstrating that peace will prevail in the future. However, theories have largely neglected the high social and environmental costs that will come with water peace. Behind the optimist perspective that States will not go to war over water because of the positive social impacts of virtual water trade, there is a hidden story of increased local conflict, violence, dispossession, injustice and commons grabbing. In this lecture, Dr Jampel Dell’Angelo will challenge the collective imagination and the scholarly consensus related to future ‘water wars’ by raising new questions about the complex dynamics and interdependencies associated with increasing pressure on globally scarce water resources.

Jampel Dell AngeloAbout the speaker:
Jampel Dell’Angelo is Assistant Professor of Water Governance in the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is PI and coordinator of the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network NEWAVE “Next Water Governance.” As an environmental social science, he is interested in the political economy of natural resources. His research focuses on the multilevel dimensions of cooperation and conflict over freshwater resources.

EP Abraham Lecture Theatre
Green Templeton College
43 Woodstock Road


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About the Green Templeton Lecture Series

The Green Templeton Lectures series takes place annually. The 2020 series is convened by Research Fellow Dr Dustin Garrick on the theme of the Future of the Commons. Other lectures in the series:
Thursday 23 January – More than a metaphor: the evolution of the commons in the past millennium
Wednesday 4 March – On the knife’s edge of tragedy and hope: markets and the commons in a divided world

The commons is a powerful metaphor for understanding human cooperation, one of the most enduring puzzles for science and society. 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Governing the Commons, the landmark study by the late Nobel laureate, Elinor Ostrom. Ostrom and many colleagues demonstrated the potential for self-governance to avoid the collapse of shared resources, propelling a global research programme and interdisciplinary network of scholars spanning from anthropology to artificial intelligence. There are two billion more people since Ostrom’s classic, and urban populations have nearly doubled, accelerating regional and global challenges that outstrip capacity for local collective action to solve alone.  The topic of the commons has arguably never been more relevant: a Science feature in 2018 traced the growing reach of the concept from classic areas – water and land – to new frontiers of data, medicine, and other global challenges.

The lecture series will explore the commons in a world approaching peak population, deepening inequality, and growing threats to democratic forms of governance. The series will follow an arc that starts with lessons from the history of the commons, and outlines the frontiers of research and innovation.  The series will contribute to a University-wide and global dialogue on the next wave of the commons, charting emerging governance innovations for a connected world.

Type: Featured, Lectures and Seminars