By Karen A. Lefkowitz
“It’s important to awaken all to the seriousness of drought and the lack of rain…the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits and that we need solutions that are elegant.” On January 17 Governor Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency in California. On the other side of the world, Australia suffered through a 12-year drought that ended last year with widespread flooding. The 2012-2013 ‘angry summer’ was the country’s hottest on record and temperatures continue to rise this summer. These parallel challenges make Australia and the U.S. ideal partners on water resource responses. UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, International Institute, Luskin Center for Innovation, and School of Law Environmental Law Center partnered with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs to host a “U.S.-Australian Dialogue on Water — The Coming Water Crisis: Solutions and Strategies” on January 13.
Legislative officials, industry specialists, legal experts, educators and scientists, economists and business executives, and non-profit professionals shared experiences and advanced the conversation on water sustainability. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block provided introductory remarks and Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb delivered the keynote speech. The symposium was part of the G’Day USA program of events that brings together leaders and key influencers in diverse industries to cultivate and enhance the Australia–United States relationship. Conference segments considered coping techniques for arid environments, blueprints for better water management, and new water sources for the future.