Gerald Lacey Lecture

Gerald Lacey was Professor of Civil Engineering (1915-17, 1928-32, 1945) and the last British Principal (1945-46) of the University of Roorkee near Delhi. He earned worldwide recognition for his `regime theory’ used for the design of major irrigation canals, made rich contributions to the field of Stable Channel Flow, and provided the technical guidance and insight that guided the successful development of irrigation systems in the Indian sub-continent. He was awarded the Kennedy gold medal in 1930 and the Telford gold medal in 1958.  In the 1960s he was involved with the design of large regime canal systems in Iraq with consultants Sir M MacDonald & Partners, London (now Mott MacDonald).

In Summer each year, to commemorate Gerald Lacey’s contribution to irrigation development, the Irrigation and Water Forum holds a prestigious lecture at the Institution of Civil Engineers, Westminster, to provide a platform for an address by a world authority in the irrigation and drainage development sector.

All Gerald Lacey Lectures are free to attend, and are streamed live.

Details and, where available, recordings of our previous Gerald Lacey Lectures can be found below.

Just add water. A history of irrigation management in India since Gerald Lacey

Mr de Jong is the World Bank’s Lead Water Resources Specialist for Indonesia. Previously he has been the Bank’s Lead Water Resources Specialist for South Asia, among other positions with the United Nations, NGOs and private sector.

Date: 16th May 2022

This lecture explored the significant changes that irrigation in India has undergone since the days of Gerald Lacey. Most notably, protective irrigation, practiced in particular in North India, has been replaced by groundwater irrigation that now accounts for almost 2/3 of India’s irrigation water supply. The lecture will delve into the reasons for this spectacular change, with a focus on service delivery, political economy and governance of irrigation in India. The speaker will provide suggestions on how public irrigation agencies can reinvent themselves by strengthening accountability and sustainability, and by improving the quality of irrigation service delivery. The lecture will emphasize the importance of performance monitoring and performance-based O&M, while promoting a more judicious use of groundwater.

Watch again here.

Land and Water Management for Food Security: the broad picture

Date: 07th June 2021

Speaker: Dr Olcay Ünver, Professor of Practice at Environmental and Resource Management Program at Arizona State University, Industry Fellow at Australian Rivers Institute, and member of Water Policy Group. He served as Vice Chair of UN-Water from 2018 to 2020

Watch again here.

Flooding in England – Past, Present and Future

Date: 18th May 2020

Speaker: John Curtin, Executive Director of Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the Environment Agency

Read the full report here. At the request of the speaker, this event was not recorded.

Climate Change and Water Security in Africa

climate-change_3Date: 14th May 2019

Speaker: Professor Declan Conway, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

Read the full report here, and watch again here.

Achieving SDG 6 – the ‘Water Goal’

GL 2018

Date: 21st May 2018

Speaker: Professor Stefan Uhlenbrook, Director of UNESCO Programme Office for Global Water Assessment and Coordinator of the Annual UN World Water Development Report

Read more and see the recording here

The Water Scarcity Crisis – Fact or Fiction

GL 2017

Date: 15th May 2017

Speaker: Professor Ian Barker, Managing Director of Water Policy International Ltd and Vice President Environment at the Institute of Water

Read more and see the recording here.

Irrigated Agriculture in the 21st Century – A Sustainable Career Choice

farm background, irrigation system

Date: 16th May 2016

Speaker: Ian Makin, Vice President, ICID and Lead Irrigation Specialist at the International Water Management Institute, Colombo

Read more and see the recording here.

Why Groundwater Matters

GL 2015

Date: 18th May 2015

Speaker: Dr. Frank van Steenbergen

Read more and see the recording here. 

The Water Energy and Food Security Nexus – is it Really New?

GL 2014

Date: 12th May 2014

Speaker: Jeremy Bird of the International Water Management Institute

Read more and see the recording here.

Small is Bountiful (but Messy): informal irrigation and new directions for food security in sub-Saharan Africa

Date: 20th May 2013GL 2013

Speaker: Professor Charlotte de Fraiture, Professor of Land and Water Development, UNESCO-IHE Delft

See the recording here.

Past lectures

Recordings of the following lectures are not available.




01st May 2012 Mr Rudolph Cleveringa Manager of the International Fund for Agriculture Development’s Innowat Programme What a Difference a Drop Makes – Joint Learning Between IFAD and ICID to Address Rural Poverty Through Agricultural Water Management
25th July 2011 Professor David GreyVisiting Professor of Water Policy at the University of Oxford and also an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter Water Security – a Global Challenge
21st May 2010 Lord Cameron of DillingtonCo-Chair to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development Global Food Security in 2030 – Why the World should support agricultural development in Africa
15th May 2009 Dr Sean LongfieldFlood Risk Science Manager Environment Agency Global persective of natural disasters
16th May 2008 Professor Sir Gordon ConwayChief Scientific Adviser to the Department for International Development. How do we feed the world?
16th May 2007 Jeremy BerkoffIndependent Consultant Inter-basin water transfer: regional development, economic growth and climate change
17th May 2006 Charles AbernethyIndependent Consultant Managing irrigation under comprehensive water resources management
18th May 2005 Jeremy BirdIndependent Consultant Dammed, Damned or Doomed?
19th May 2004 Dr David KingDirector of Water Management, Environment Agency The Water Environment in 2010
14th May 2003 Keith PitmanWorld Bank Water And Development At The World Bank – What Have We Learned Since 1990
15th May 2002 Peter LeeMott Macdonald Research & Technology in Irrigation & Drainage
16th May 2001 Prof  Bart ShultzPresident ICID The Role of Water In Food Production And Rural Development
16th May 2000 Alan HallHR Wallingford Ltd The World Water Forum And Its Implications For ICID
19th May 1999 Dr Peter Leeds-HarrisonSilsoe College, Cranfield University Irrigation And Drainage:  Is There Still A Role For Soil Physics?
23th May 1998 Dr Roberto LentonDirector International Irrigation Management Institute The International Irrigation Management Institute: Its objectives & Initial
20th May 1998 Johan HolmbergExecutive Secretary of the Global Water Partnership A Knowledge-Intensive Network for Sustainable Water Resources Management
21th May 1997 Prof Tony AllanSOAS London  
22th May 1996 Reg PurnellChief Engineer, Flood and Coastal Defence Division, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food Flood Defence And Drainage – Money Down The Drain?
24th May 1995 John Hennessy Global Water Conservation
25th May 1994 Roy StonorSouthampton University The Nile
20th May 1992 Peter Ackers Canal & River regime in theory and practice 1929-1992
22th May 1991 Prof Jack Keller Managing Irrigation Enterprises
23th May 1990 Sir Hugh Fish The Role of the NRAs in Drainage Basin Management
24th May 1989 Jim Dempster Development of the Lower Brahmaptura Basin
20th May 1987 Brian TraffordHead of Environmental & Land Management Services MAFF A Review of the UK Work on the drainage and irrigation engineer
21th May 1986 Bart SchultzHead Water Management Ijsselmene Polders Development Authority Netherlands Drainage Works on the Zuuiderzee Project
30th May 1985 Guy Le MoigneIrrigation Adviser World Bank World Bank Involvement in Irrigation and Drainage
16th May 1984 Bob RangeleyPresident ICID Challenges, Problems & Solutions in Irrigation Today