The sense of importance in the tiny village of Davos is hard to miss. If it isn’t a throng of bodyguards escorting Henry Kissinger back to his hotel, it’s the gymnastics that must be performed to get past barriers and the Swiss police to gain access to the Congress Centre where the main action of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is taking place. The message is clear and it is loud – if you’re not one of the chosen, you are not welcome. The Open Forum at the WEF is thus a refreshing change of pace.
The world’s political and economic elite are gearing up to make the pilgrimage to the World Economic Forum next week. From warnings and criticisms to tongue-in-cheek guides to crashing parties, the sleepy ski resort of Davos is back for its annual outing in the news. For many, it’s just another “important” event, full of people “chasing successful people who want to be seen chasing other successful people”. So why bother – literally and metaphorically – to make the long trek up?
As a (now infrequent) resident of Delhi, I’ve sweltered through my share of power shortages. Trying to find that sweet spot between fanning myself fast enough to stay cool, but not over-heating from the action while waiting for the lights to turn back on, was one of the more troublesome equations I wrestled with in my childhood. I’d like to say I bore these episodes with equanimity but that would be a lie. Luckily, I live(d) in an area of Delhi where power outages are rare and if they do happen, they are of short duration. The liberalising reforms that rolled through the country and down the corridors of the Ministry of Power in the ‘90s promised that a change was coming.
From Davos to Beijing! After making their mark at the 2009 and 2011 World Resources Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a new team of ten Student Reporters will cover the 2012 World Resources Forum to be held in Beijing, China between 21st and 23rd October, 2012. The team is led by an international and transatlantic team of staff writers Aishwarya Nair and Mike McCullough from the University of Pennsylvania, and Claudio Ruch from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH). The application deadline is 10th June, 2012. You will be informed about your application after the 12th.
Each conference comes with its own set of catchphrases and the World Water Forum is no exception. A popular one that’s been buzzing around is “the new industrial revolution” or as it’s colloquially known, “green growth”. Coined in 2008, the definition of green growth differs depending on who’s using it. In general, green growth refers to the idea of furthering economic growth within the limits of the natural ecosystem without detracting from the possibility for future development. But even after having over 22 hours devoted to green growth development, with stakeholders present from across the spectrum, it is the silence on certain issues that could sink this new possible engine of economic growth.
“The only way water reform will be successful,” warned OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría; “is if policy combines sustainable financing, effective governance and coherence. Without major policy changes, we risk high costs to economic growth, human health, and the environment.” This is the takeaway message from the latest OECD synthesis report, Meeting the Water Reform Challenge, that was released at the World Water Forum on Tuesday. Also showcased was the chapter on the outlook for water from the upcoming OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction, where water is a major focus. The chapter on water and water reform was launched in Marseille at the World Water Forum on Tuesday and takes stock of what the next four decades will bring to a world that already has seven billion people on it.
Oikos Student Reporters Eva Papadimas and Aishwarya Nair got a chance to interview the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Angel Gurría, on the opening day of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille. They discussed some of the challenges facing the financing of water projects. Mr. Gurría identified sustainable and equitable financing as one of the fundamental conditions for successful water policy reform, regardless of whether the country in question is a member OECD state or a developing country; the only difference is the target of the investment. In developing countries, the financing would go to the development of infrastructure to improve access and connectivity of people to water and sanitation services because ironically, it is the poorest people in the world who pay significantly more than those connected to water mains. For OECD countries, however, the challenge that must be addressed is the expensive modernisation of an extensive network of aging and leaking pipes. The amounts needed for financing such as this range between 1-4% of national GDPs. Equally important, therefore, is the realisation that this financing must come with a long-term plan.
It’s a gorgeous day in Provence for the start of the sixth World Water Forum! The excitement is high at Parc Chanot in Marseille as ministers, delegations, media and students arrive in droves. The Marseille Rêve Choir, along with the Bamboo Orchestra and 250 children from schools around the city, kicked off the Opening Ceremony at the Palais des Événements, singing a beautiful song composed by Eric Benzi specifically for the event. The lyrics certainly echoed the sentiment that’s coursing through the venue – it’s time to move beyond talk and get our hands dirty finding real solutions to pressing global water issues. The buzz comes from the title and goal of the WWF6 – “time for solutions.”