Speaker Karen Bakker is the director of the Program on Water Governance at the Institute of Resources, Environment and Sustainability and a Canada Research Chair and geography professor at the University of British Columbia. She is a leading scholar of water governance in Canada, the UK and across the world. Trained as a natural and social scientist (in environmental sciences, political economy, and political ecology), she regularly collaborates with medical and natural scientists on the study of complex problems of environmental governance.
The UBC Program on Water Governance conducts interdisciplinary research on a broad range of water issues, from water security, drought and flood mitigation; water privatization; demand management and water conservation; to the global water crisis; urban water supply in developing countries; water vending; and business models for municipal water supply.
She has a degree from McMaster University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University for her doctorate and postdoctoral fellowship. She has worked in Cambodia, South Africa, Bolivia, Spain and Indonesia.
Her publications include several well-regarded books including "An Uncooperative Commodity: Privatizing Water in England and Wales" and "Privatizing Water: Governance Failure and the World’s Urban Water Crisis." She has many peer-reviewed articles in environment, geography and water. Recent work includes authoring a report on water governance for the OECD’s Territorial Review of Water Governance in Venice, participation in a United Nations-led expert consultation on the human right to water and advising the Canadian government on delegated (or “shared”) water governance strategies.