At the 2008 World Economic Forum, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to make it a priority to address water shortages around the globe, because of their potential to spark armed conflict. "Too often, where we need water, we find guns instead," Ban said, noting that population growth and climate change will only make the problem worse.
This is just one of the critical issues surrounding water, a precious and dwindling natural resource. In 2008, Sigma Xi brought its intellectual resources to bear on this broad topic. Science has an enormous role to play in this and other issues facing humankind.
But how can science best inform government policy, both at home and abroad? As the multidisciplinary honor society of research scientists and engineers, Sigma Xi is in a unique position to be a leader in the science of science policy.
We called upon our members to contribute their talents as we focused our efforts in 2008 on water, one of the most pressing issues in science today. The scientific, policy and ethical implications are monumental. But doesn't Sigma Xi have the best minds to put to the challenges in this area? Many other organizations also are focusing on this issue, and Sigma Xi will serve as a waterwheel to drive continued conversations about it at all levels.
Our Year of Water, H2O08, culminateed in a themed Annual Meeting in November in Washington, D.C. The highlight was a panel discussion with experts in the field along with breakout sessions where we shared our collective wisdom on how the many policy issues that are the undercurrents in water might be translated into well-reasoned actions.