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’.
Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker is one of the gurus of resource efficiency present at the WRF 2011. I had the privilege to interview him. I asked about him how did we arrive to the present resource squandering and how should the political and economical frame change to establish a sustainable resources use? How did the perception of resources changed during the last 40 years? Are politicians ready to change something?
Everybody who knows current European environmental policy could not be surprised by Janez Potočnik’s speech. The Sloveninan economist and European Commissioner for the Environment opened the WRF 2011 conference emphasizing the need for better resource-efficient economy. Potočnik started with a situation summary, as traditional with his speeches:
“The world’s population is increasing by around 200 000 people a day… By 2050 demand for food, feed and fibre is forecast to increase by 70% and yet 60% of our ecosystems underpinning these resources are already degraded… In the EU today we use some 16 tonnes of materials per person each year, of which 6 tonnes become waste…”