Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - 11:48

The skills and ingenuity needed to manage water and horticulture for the nation’s future food supply are catalysts for an important conference taking place in London next month.


Water - Horticulture - Food: Managing Water for Life is aimed at companies using water in horticulture, the food and drink industry, architects, academics and those with an interest in training, skills and innovation, among others.


Organised jointly by the Eden Project, the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), the one-day conference takes place at the SCI’s headquarters in Belgrave Square, London, on November 12.


The government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sir John Beddington will open the debate with a keynote address on how humanity is facing the ‘perfect storm’. He will discuss the challenges posed by increasing population and competition for water resources, rising demand for food production, loss of harvests and the global need to reduce energy consumption in a carbon conscious time.


Other speakers include the government food adviser Professor Tim Lang, the author of Feeding People Is Easy Colin Tudge, and the leading science writer Fred Pearce.


World experts in agriculture and horticulture will also lead debates on water use in food and farming.


Managing Water for Life is set to be the first in a series of conferences to encourage the sharing of ideas, ingenuity and skills needed to tackle climate change.


Mark Paterson, Tertiary Education Coordinator at the Eden Project, said: “Fresh water plays a crucial daily role in the production of all that we eat and drink. The devastating floods in Pakistan and debilitating drought in Russia are vivid reminders that too much water can have as destructive an impact on crops and harvests as too little.”


Peter Grimbly, of SCI’s Horticulture Group, said: “Few can argue that climate change is happening or that humanity needs to adapt to face the social, economic and environmental revolution that will result. Water availability is a key component in this change, and its use is fundamentally linked to the well-being of our economy, environment and culture.


“This conference is intended to start an annual series of events to address humanity's dependence on the ecosystem services that sustain us all. The intention is to catalyse cross-sector conversations about practical solutions and action to address the challenges we face.”


Nick Reeves, Executive Director of CIWEM, said: “Horticulture feeds the world and contributes to biodiversity. But a changing climate and a growing population will force growers to develop new techniques and technologies that maximises water efficiency and productivity without harming the environment. It's a tough call and will require a horticultural revolution that puts growing for food in greater harmony with nature and makes it entirely sustainable.”


To book a place or to exhibit at Water - Horticulture - Food: Managing Water for Life conference at SCI HQ, Belgrave Square, London, on Friday 12 November, contact the SCI Conference Dept on +44 (0) 207 598 1561 or or for the programme schedule visit