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Ensuring India’s Water Security

March 18, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am

View a recording of the webinar!

The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in collaboration with Carolina’s Modern Indian Studies initiative, will host a panel discussion on India water security via Zoom livestream at 9:30 a.m. EDT on March 16, 2021 

The panel will feature Parameswaran Iyer, Global Lead on Strategic Initiatives for the World Bank Water PracticeMichael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center; Dr. Snehalatha Mekala, regional coordinator of FANSAand Dr. Peter McCornick, executive director of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI) at the University of Nebraska. Dr. Aaron Salzberg, director of the Water Institute at UNC, will provide moderation throughout the event. The diplomats will explore the threats to India’s water security and potential actions that might provide a more water secure future for nearly 20% of the world’s population.  

This webinar is co-sponsored by the UNC Water Institute. By providing resources to the next generation of leaders to change the way the world works on water, their goal is to create a more water secure world through research, policy, and practice.

This webinar series is part of the Modern Indian Studies Initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a leading public university and home to the largest Asia Studies Center in the southeastern U.S., Carolina is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of advancing knowledge of modern India across North Carolina, the United States and beyond. In partnership with leaders from North Carolina’s Indian-American community, UNC has embarked on a bold initiative to transform the model for Indian Studies. We are forging ahead in establishing the country’s leading program in Modern Indian Studies – increasing knowledge and understanding of the India of today, and its rapidly evolving future. 

The goal of the Water Institute at UNC is to create a more water secure world through research, policy, and practice. From their perspective, action without evidence is wasting money; evidence without action is wasting time. To reach the SDG targets we can afford neither. Their job is to provide the evidence, the tools, and the next generation of leaders to change the way the world works on water.


Aaron Salzberg   

Aaron Salzberg is the Director of the Water Institute at UNC. The goal of the Water Institute is to contribute to a more water secure world through research, policy and practice. Prior to joining UNC, Aaron served as the Department of State’s first Special Coordinator for Water where he managed the development and implementation of U.S. foreign policy on drinking water and sanitation, water resources management and transboundary water issues.  In this role, he led the development of the first U.S. government Global Water Strategy and served as the Department’s lead representative on international water issues.  He currently advises on issues related to water security, access to drinking water and sanitation and conflicts related to shared waters.  Aaron has a Ph.D. in Genetic Toxicology and a MS in Technology and Policy from MIT and a MS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.    

Michael Kugelman 

Michael Kugelman is Asia Program deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. He is responsible for research, programming, and publications on South Asia. His specialty areas include Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, and their relations with the United States. His recent projects have focused on India’s foreign policy, India-Pakistan relations, the war in Afghanistan and transboundary water management in South Asia. He is a regular contributor to publications, including Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and




Dr. Snehalatha Mekala  

Dr. Snehalatha Mekala is currently the Regional Coordinator of FANSA, a network of CSOs in South Asia, and is also currently acting as an Advisor to RUST, a research project led by Cranfield University. She holds a PhD in the field of Extension Education from Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University in Hyderabad, India. She worked as a Regional Advisor for South Asia for Splash and as a National Research Coordinator for the Community Water Plus project (2013 to 2016). She also was the country coordinator for the WASH Cost project (2008-2012) for IRC in the Netherlands. Her core competencies and professional interests are in the areas of Water Sanitation and Hygiene services, particularly focused on advocating equitable and inclusive WASH progress and Participatory Poverty Assessments. She was part of the working group responsible for formulating the five-year plan for obtaining national rural drinking water and sanitation formed by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. She undertook various research studies for regional, national and international organizations, including UN agencies and governments mainly focused on sustainability, equity and human rights related to WASH. She authored/co-authored more than 20 journal papers, 50 reports on varied themes and extensively contributed to the knowledgebuilding process in the development sector. She has also been regularly contributing at high-level, professional platforms, including the Stockholm Water Week, Water and Health Conference, World Water Forum, SACOSANs and partnerships of Sanitation and Water for All. 

Peter McCornick  

Peter is the executive director of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI) at the University of Nebraska. He leads the institute in delivering its vision of a water and food secure world, and in building its partnerships and collaborations in Nebraska, nationally in the US and other key food producing regions in the world.  He is a tenured professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and a courtesy professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Robert B. Daugherty Chair of Water for Food.  

Previously, Peter was with the International Water Management Institute, as the Asia Director in New Delhi, and then the Deputy Director General of Research in Colombo. With an international career focused on improving the sustainable management of water resources, he has lived and led inter-disciplinary research and implemented programs on water, agriculture and the environment in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America.  

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and his masters and doctorate from Colorado State University. He is a licensed professional civil engineer in the State of Colorado, and a member of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers. Peter was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the World Water Council, and he is a member of the Steering Committee of the Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG) initiative, a global partnership organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO). 


Ravi Narayanan, currently Chair of the Asia Pacific Water Forum, International Mentor to the Japan Water Forum Chair of the Water Integrity Network has twenty years of experience in the corporate sector and more than thirty in the not-for-profit sector. He started  first with ActionAid as Country Director for India, then was Director for International Operations and finally works as Asia Director. He was also formerly the Chief Executive of WaterAid and a member of the UN Millennium Task Force on Water and Sanitation and the World Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure, also known as the Camdessus Panel. He was awarded an honorary CBE by the UK Government for services to poor communicates in Asia and Africa.


March 18, 2021
9:00 am - 10:30 am