The stuff that I enjoy most is trying to bring together understanding of what the big policy issues of today are and converting those into interesting research questions that we can work together across different faculty and different students to find new and effective ways forward.
DTH: What will you be speaking about today?
JB: When I sat down to write this (speech) what struck me very strongly is that, first of all, water really is a defining issue, a defining challenge of the 21st century.
UNC, for a variety of reasons, is in a really special position. It’s in a position where it could yield a huge influence and a positive impact on the course of development in the coming decades.
I think that’s a challenge that we could and should respond to and that we can do that by pulling together.
JB: It’s more than awareness — it’s about why the things that make Carolina, Carolina and the things that make water a big issue for the coming period. (It’s also about creating) an opportunity for UNC to step forward and make a difference. The idea is to do good.
DTH: Why is our Water Institute at UNC so important?
JB: The Water Institute at UNC is already the biggest, focused research group in the U.S. that’s looking at these links between water health and development.
It has only been in existence for two years — it’s already delivered insight onto the policy stage that simply haven’t been seen before.
We helped work with (Iceland) to introduce improvements in water management. And you know, they got a measurable health improvement? I mean, that’s wild.
You know, the idea that developed nations — we can improve people’s health — just by managing their water systems a bit better. I get excited about that kind of thing.
DTH: Why should students be informed about water issues?
JB: Water is going to be the thing that constrains or enables the future development of every country in the world, including the U.S.
It’s going to determine (these countries’) prosperity, their health, their enjoyment of nature — it is the defining issue of the next century.
JB: You can make a difference. The things we do day-by-day, whether it’s the simple things like turning off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth or the things we do in the work place, as we move on through our careers, we can make a difference.
And the difference is big, it’s not small. Because water is going to be a limiting factor here for all of our futures, managing water well really matters.
Populations and countries that know how to manage water well and do manage water well are going to succeed.
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