Water and Human Well Being: An Executive Session on Grand Challenges of the Sustainability Transition

CID Faculty Working Paper No. 188

Alix Peterson Zwane, Michael Kremer, and Robyn Meeks
November 2009


The Executive Session on Water and Human Well Being was convened by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Venice International University on July 20–21, 2009. This high-level gathering was organized to create a unique space for dialog between policymakers, academics, and sector experts to move beyond the truism that “water is life” towards actionable solutions for making water a force for improved human health and well being in the development agenda. Discussion focused on sharing new evidence from applied research on game-changing technologies and human behavior that affect environmental health outcomes. In addition, sessions addressed strategies to move beyond promising pilot projects to scalable programs; public, private, and integrated approaches were considered. The interconnections between sustainability and scale were explored, giving policymakers an explicit opportunity to help shape the research agenda of leading biomedical and social scientists working at the intersection of water and health. The session was one in a series on Grand Challenges of the Sustainability Transition organized by the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University with the generous support of the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land, and Sea.

Keywords: public goods, project evaluation, public health, sustainable development, water, environment and development

JEL subject codes: H41, H43, I18, Q01, Q25, Q56