2017 UNC Water and Health Conference

About the conference

Bringing together research with policy, practice and networking events

The 2017 Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy, organized by The Water Institute at UNC, considered drinking water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resources in both the developing and developed worlds with a strong public health emphasis.

Conference Themes

  • Climate resilience
  • WaSH and gender
  • Drinking water safety
  • Addressing disparities in WaSH: Rural, peri-urban, and indigenous populations
  • WaSH in non-household settings
  • From evidence to action


Plenary Panel: Understanding Baselines, Indicators and Hurdles to Achieving the SDGs

In partnership with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, we will convene a high-level panel discussion to examine the implications of the baseline numbers published in the 2017 Joint Monitoring Programme report, the first post-MDG assessment. The panel will analyze what steps the WaSH community must take to reach the agreed targets by 2030.


  • Brian Arbogast, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Catarina de Albuquerque, executive chair of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership
  • Rick Johnston, technical officer, WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme
  • Wro Frenesh Mekuria, state minister for Ethiopia’s Water Supply and Sanitation Sector
  • Param Iyer, secretary of India’s Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry
  • Luis Simas, head of Drinking Water Quality in Portugal
  • Tom Slaymaker, senior statistics and monitoring specialist, UNICEF

Panel: Building Resilient Communities to Withstand Increasing Extreme Weather Events’ Impact on the Global Water Crisis

As global temperatures rise, evidence suggests that extreme weather events will affect populations worldwide, with the health of poor and marginalized communities disproportionately impacted. This panel will focus on linkages between environmental health and human health in the context of climate change and global urbanization, and explore what can be done to strengthen and build communities’ water and sanitation systems to achieve SDGs 6.1 and 6.2. Moderated by John Matthews, coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation.


  • Peter Gleick, president emeritus of the Pacific Institute
  • Tony Wong, chief executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities

Theme Keynote: Disparities in WaSH

Laurel Firestone, co-founder and codirector of the Community Water Center

Panel: Merging Science and Technology with Culture and Tradition

This panel will focus on how to ensure that Native American Tribal culture, traditions and past experiences are considered and reflected in efforts to provide access to drinking water and sanitation services. It brings together operators, researchers and public health practitioners to discuss how these factors influence the acceptance and success of services, lessons learned from a sample of experiences and opportunities to ensure this becomes the norm, not the exception.


  • John Doyle, Little Bighorn College
  • Mari Eggers, Montana State University Bozeman
  • James Temte, National Tribal Water Center
  • Steve Terry, United South & Eastern Tribes

Let's create a water secure future together.