One of the hotly debated topics among environmental wonks, public sector representatives and companies is the value of water. Water is a resource considered to be ‘free’ and a public right by many. Why is it that our most necessary life-sustaining resource carries so inadequate a monetary value in relation to other resources such as oil? Peter Gammeltoft of the European Commission pointed out that water pricing is just one part of the solution associated with increasing awareness about its worth. It is important to point out that other issues exist within the framework of creating a stronger monetary value for water because assigning a price to consumption (only) still does not prevent pollution from other sources. One way to value water is through overall ecosystem sustainability, which should be considered from a holistic perspective. People often turn to technology in order to solve our problems. Technology’s main eco-equitable purpose should be to promote ‘more with less’.
The title of this session was “Green Growth: No Nature, No Water, No Growth.” When one contemplates the topic of green growth as it relates to both human innovation and ‘nature’, a compassionate thinker might also imagine what a rabbit or dolphin might say about its plight if it could speak about the associated ‘nature’ descriptor of this session theme. While this session unfortunately did not incorporate a dolphin or bunny agenda, there were fortunately strong messages conveyed which described the need for transparency, restraint, and partnership. The theme of this year’s session was ‘solutions.’ This theme pushes people to discuss how to accomplish agreed-upon goals instead of continuing to identify the same problems repeatedly. Several speakers peppered talk of the upcoming Rio+20 conference into their discussion on the challenges of solving future water-related problems from intensifying demand.
Written by Martha Powers and Heidi Travis
The large glass geodesic dome pictured on the left graces the entrance to the Marseille Geolide Wastewater Treatment Facility. The interior of the public area of the facility is clean and modern with little hint of what is just underground. The facility is located in downtown Marseille, commissioned in 1987 by the city at a cost of 160 million Euros to build, with a biological treatment extension added in 2008. The design of the facility is at the lowest point of the city and was built underground due to its urban location. This plant serves 17 towns and 1 million inhabitants within the Huveaune river valley.
At a conference of this size, conference planners ponder how to create ways to facilitate valuable personal interaction and discussion between people of different backgrounds. A good example of an interactive event at the Forum happened on Tuesday as one of the interactive program facilitators chatted with people wandering around in the Village of Solutions. She encouraged more than half a dozen people to come in and participate in a collaborative event. This event, intended to make people feel like they were being observed and responsible for serious decision-making, was entitled the ‘fish-bowl negotiation’ session. People gathered around a table in order to discuss a topic. Christine, a zoologist and biologist from Switzerland, led our group comprised of people from around the world including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mexico, France, U.S.A., and Switzerland, in typical moderator fashion.
If you are a resident or a tourist in Marseille this week, you have probably noticed that not only are you surrounded by a beautiful Mediterranean port packed with water related industry and activities, but also by numerous exhibits celebrating the beauty of water. Art is an amazing way to communicate because it takes many shapes and forms while allowing people to interact in very personal ways. Art speaks. Art educates. Art can be in your face, shouting out at viewers as a huge sculpture, or subtly displayed in a corner shop, quietly awaiting the passerby. Currently, many interesting exhibits showcasing water are available throughout the city and Forum.