Upon opening a shipment of computers it had received through the International Children’s Fund (ICF), a Ghanaian school discovered the equipment sent was 15 years old. Most of the computers needed replacement parts, parts that weren’t available anymore. In the end, the school managed to get only a single computer working again. While the ICF had good intentions, a fake charity had handed it a container of what was meant to be workable secondhand material that was actually closer to its end of life—that is, effectively waste. That unfortunate Ghanaian school is only one victim in a long chain of corruption, theft and organized crime that stretches from Brussels to Cape Town.
The underlying principles of recycling and their relevance in a business model can be used to revive local economies.
The concept of reusing human resources and abandoned physical assets if applied correctly can be the catalyst towards increasing economic activity. Archer Groupe located in Romans-sur-Isère in Drome, France is a prime example of a successful application of this unique concept.
When you talk with her, it’s hard to find the moment that you could use to ask your following question. Albina Ruiz is one of those. She has the drive and focused energy of the ones who have fought for their vision to come true. For nearly three decades she has been building up a model of social enterprise, at first in Peru and progressively all over South America. She is now working to develop it in Asia.
Addressing the problem of water scarcity was the major concern during the World Water Forum 6. Many solutions were suggested, but it seems that the answer to this crucial problem can be found in the sustainable use of water resources. In the field of sustainability, innovation must be applied in every possible sense, in order for modern civilization to keep developing and flourishing. While attending several different discussion panels that focused on possible solutions such as desalination, replacement of malfunctioning infrastructure and filtration of rainwater, a certain proposal gained my attention. During the High Level Panel on Transboundary Waters, Mr Ger Bergkamp, Regional Group and Programmes of IWA, introduced the idea of the use of different water qualities.
Low quality water is essentially wastewater that has been treated using high-level technology so that it can be used (or more aptly reused) to irrigate agricultural and industrial crops and recharge aquifers. Why would we switch to using low quality water when we currently use fresh water for agricultural irrigation? Sources of freshwater are steadily decreasing across the globe, and agriculture accounts for approximately 70% of the world’s freshwater withdrawal. As the world’s population increases and the amount of available freshwater decreases, water scarcity and food security will soon become two major concerns. The use of irrigation is also increasing to meet the food demands of a growing population. Already, there has been a net increase of 117% in irrigated land from 1961-2009, and in some countries, irrigation uses more than 40 percent of renewable water resources. Unfortunately, not all of this water reaches the crop; as much as 60% of water withdrawn for irrigation is lost through leakage, spillage, evaporation, or infiltration. How can we decrease the amount of freshwater withdrawn for irrigation? Well, first, technology, education and maintenance issues must be addressed to reduce lost water in
irrigation. One solution is also to reuse low quality water for irrigation to mitigate the global strain on freshwater.
Southern Europe is not known for its endless rain nor its snowy winters. Instead, the land constantly experiences a long, dry summer, followed by intermittent rain during its winter season. This is the weather that creates the rolling fields of olive and fruit trees, green vegetables, and legumes which are hailed for their anti-oxidant properties and health benefits. These foods spurred the Mediterranean Diet, which as people who live in the Mediterranean will tell you, is a way of life. It has fostered the unique and popular history, culture, economy, environment, health and nutrition of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean.
I believe in miracles. I witnessed economy miracle in 2011: China surpassed Japan and became second to the United States with prospectof being second to none. In the future I would like to witness an environmental miracle: China, the largest contaminator and generator of waste, showing the world the route to sustainable development. Thanks to Dr Zhu Dajian, my hope has emerged. The population of China has reached 1,3 billion, 22% of the world’s total.
Let us imagine a simple ecosystem. A seed germinates in the presence of sunlight and water. It becomes a tall tree while taking up nutrients from the soil with the help of other microorganisms. When the tree dies, its degradation releases the nutrients back to the soil, which are taken up by other growing trees and other micro-organisms, until they die and release the nutrients again … You will find many such closed loops in the nature. Now imagine that our society is also an ecosystem. We take up our resources – fuel, water, etc.