Olivier Cogels is an internationally recognized Belgian expert in water geopolitics and diplomacy. His insightful lectures address critical global issues such as “Will humanity face a water shortage?”, “Are water wars imminent?”, and “How can we prevent them?”
His long commitment to addressing global water issues has involved collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders, from nomadic villages in the Sahel to governments, diplomats, and major international organizations.
He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences from UCLouvain, Belgium, and conducted postdoctoral research in irrigation science at the University of California. His expertise, developed in over fifty countries, is supplemented by his role as a part-time academic, teaching at various universities in Europe and Africa, and serving as an Emeritus Professor at UCLouvain.
His career began in academia and teaching before founding a company specializing in satellite remote sensing. He then led the Belgian international cooperation in Senegal. As a Director at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, he headed a program on innovative irrigation technologies. In Southeast Asia, as CEO of the Mekong River Commission, he played a crucial role in enhancing water cooperation between China and Mekong basin countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Recognized for his expertise in water geopolitics and diplomacy, Cogels has continued his career as a senior consultant for major international organizations. His advisory roles include shaping the World Bank’s hydraulic development strategy in the Nile basin and providing expertise to the European Commission, various UN agencies, and multiple bilateral cooperation entities.
In addressing global hydro-climatic challenges, Cogels rejects a catastrophic and fatalistic view. He strongly believes that through multi-sectoral cooperation, coordinated investments, innovative solutions, and more effective governance, these challenges can be met. This belief is a central theme in his lectures.
Cogels’ exceptional journey, along with his steadfast dedication to water-related causes for nearly half a century, has established him as a passionate and inspiring speaker. He is eager to inform and motivate those interested in responsible and equitable water resource management on our planet.
In a world where the image of a dried-up planet fuels fears and debates, this conference invites critical reflection on common perceptions about the global water crisis. Are we inevitably heading towards a widespread water shortage, or are there nuances and lesser-known aspects that we need to explore? We will examine the facts behind the alarmist headlines and demystify some myths surrounding the future of water. Our goal is to provide a more complete and balanced understanding of the current situation of water availability on our planet. Join us for an enlightened discussion that goes beyond simplistic claims, exploring the real challenges, possible solutions, and adaptation strategies humanity can adopt in response to our changing water environment.
In a global context where water is becoming an increasingly strategic issue, this conference delves deep into the burning question: Are water wars really an imminent threat to our future? What realities lie behind the alarmist rhetoric? We will address these questions by adopting a critical perspective, questioning common assumptions, and examining the facts. The conference will revisit historical water-related conflicts to draw lessons, while scrutinizing current and future tensions, with a particular focus on underlying causes. At the heart of this analysis, we will evaluate the effectiveness of water diplomacy and transboundary cooperation institutions. Are these approaches truly the key to preventing future water wars, or are there gaps and challenges that need to be addressed? In conclusion, we will present visionary perspectives and strategies for peaceful and sustainable management of our precious water resources.
Dive into the complexity of global water issues from a comprehensive and integrated perspective. In the first part, we will address global water needs and question our planet’s capacity to meet the growing demand for this essential resource. The second part will focus on crucial water-related challenges. Beyond shortages, we will discuss issues related to water quality, overexploitation of water resources, access to drinking water, as well as governance and sustainable management challenges. We will also shed light on how the risks of natural disasters such as floods and droughts are evolving. In the third and final part, we will explore the range of existing solutions to address these complex challenges. This exploration will include an analysis of water infrastructure, innovative technologies, and strategies for integrated and sustainable resource management. We will also discuss the crucial importance of international cooperation in preventing conflicts and resolving the global water crisis.
Explore the fascinating intricacies of the Mekong Basin in Southeast Asia! Immerse yourself in the cooperation challenges and geopolitical tensions shaping this crucial region. Our journey begins by examining the fundamental issues related to water resource management, the environment, energy production, food security, and the complex relationships between China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Discover the current and future water resources of the Mekong, and the growing impact of irrigation needs, hydroelectric energy, and navigation. Explore the environmental challenges and geopolitical tensions arising from the construction of massive dams. Dive into the exciting narrative of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), led by the speaker from 2004 to 2007, and explore its history and functioning.
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"His ability to communicate with clarity and passion immediately captured the interest of all participants. During the question-and-answer sessions that followed his presentation, Olivier Cogels confirmed his expertise by responding in-depth and relevance to the audience's inquiries. His unquestionable mastery of the subject, exceptional pedagogical skills, and talent for engaging the audience make him a discerning choice for any event related to geopolitics and water diplomacy. Olivier Cogels' contribution significantly enriched our webinar, and I am convinced he will bring substantial added value to other future events. Congratulations, Olivier, for delivering a memorable and enriching presentation that undeniably played a key role in the success of our hydrology webinar in Africa. Your participation left a lasting impression on all the participants."
Anaëlle Cloarec, Eumetsat
"Many, many thanks for your great contribution! These two hours were totally inspiring."
Tobias Siegfried, Hydrosolutions
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