3rd “Conversation that Matters” with Robert Bilott and Maude Barlow

The third edition of the “Conversations that Matter” series organised by the RLC Santa Cruz and the Right Livelihood Foundation is going to take place on May 6, 5 PM CEST (8 AM Pacific time). Right Livelihood Award Laureates Robert Bilott and Maude Barlow will discuss the topic of “Water Justice in the Age of Coronavirus and Beyond”.

Water contaminated by toxic chemical wastes; hundreds of millions without access to minimum necessary quantities of potable water. These were grave, immense issues long before the coronavirus pandemic. Now the pandemic, raging globally, poses new questions for us: Do these pre-existing conditions, the polluted waters, the lack of access, make the pandemic worse? Conversely, will the pandemic affect society’s future ability or willingness to improve access and quality?


A livestream will be available here.


About the Laureates:

Maude Barlow was given the Right Livelihood Award in 2005 “...for her exemplary and longstanding worldwide work for trade justice and the recognition of the fundamental human right to water.” Maude is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs Food & Water Watch’s board. She is also an executive member of the San Francisco-based International Forum on Globalization and a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council. In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly. She is also the best-selling author or co-author of 19 books, including Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and most recently Whose Water is it Anyway? Taking Water Protection into Public Hands.

Robert Bilott was given the Right Livelihood Award in 2017 “…for exposing a decades-long history of chemical pollution, winning long-sought justice for the victims, and setting a precedent for effective regulation of hazardous substances.” For more than 29 years, Bilott has handled a wide variety of highly complex environmental matters and related toxic tort litigation for a diverse array of clients, including the nation’s first cases involving PFAS drinking water contamination. In a legal battle lasting 19 years, he represented 70,000 citizens whose drinking water had been contaminated with Perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) by the chemical giant DuPont. He is the author of the book, “Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle against DuPont,” and his story is the inspiration for the new motion picture, “Dark Waters”, starring Mark Ruffalo as him. His story is also featured in the documentary available on Netflix, “The Devil We Know”.



Andrew Szasz is professor emeritus in the UC Santa Cruz Environmental Studies Department.