Recent stories

China’s Water Crisis – Fancy a ‘Green’ Swim in Qingdao?

QINGDAO, China – While it is common knowledge that China’s air is bad – The New York Times, reported in January that “On scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air quality tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755” – the deteriorating quality of water has gotten less attention. Yet there is plenty of evidence that China’s waters are just as endangered as its air. Just ask Mr Liu, one of the many millions of Chinese who have watched the deteriorating water quality along the Chinese coast. He has lived his whole life in Qingdao, a popular Chinese beach resort. Now he’s 66 and retired, and enjoys a cigarette as he looks out over the water and the crowded beach.

“Be Water” – Adapting, Changing and Maintaining Sustainability through Chinese Philosophy

“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. “

The above is one of my favorite philosophical sayings, and it is from a legend of my hometown, Bruce Lee, a martial artist and modern philosopher.

Bottled Water in Hot Water

An increasing population, growing needs and rising pollution… there is no doubt that changes need to happen in several part of our lives if we don’t want to empty the resources of our earth. Let’s look at the case of water, for example. The names “San Pellegrino” and “Aquafina” are well known to all of us; most of us have probably even bought a bottle or two without really thinking about it. But today, this is the very discussion on the table, as some politicians propose ideas that challenge our ideas of consumption and question bottled water. Upon reflection, consuming bottled water is illogical.

An Interview with Ms. Abby Onencan of the Nile Basin Discourse

The Nile Basin Discourse (NBD) is a civil society network with a membership of more than 750 organizations from 11 countries within the Nile Basin Region. It provides knowledge and builds capacity to strengthen the voice of civil society organizations within the Nile Basin Region. The NBD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nile Basin Initiative, a coalition of  ten countries’ governments along the Nile, and participates in high level meetings. The NBD has developed a unique voice in the Initiative’s goal to advance  benefit sharing. “Benefit sharing,” as described by the NBD, aims to divert attention from contentious issues such as water allocation, thereby preventing futile competition in the region.

Roll On, Nile, Roll On!

The Nile is the world’s longest river. It is shared between Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (See map below). Except for South Sudan, all of the above countries are members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) – a cooperative partnership formed in 1999. Six upstream members of the NBI signed a “Cooperative Framework Agreement” that includes Articles addressing issues such as water allocation. One can imagine that such a framework is needed to assist water management efforts between so many nations.

David Zetland is Brash, Outspoken and Unapologetic… and He’s Usually Right.

When I meet up with David Zetland, he’s chatting up two Forum attendees over complimentary drinks and light hors d’ouvres from the Brazilian Pavilion at Parc Chanot’s Palais Phoceen. Usually the center of attention by virtue of a lightning quick wit and polymathic knowledge, Zetland is skewering a newly-formed NGO designed to help investment banks and other financiers assess risks associated with climate change… “Which makes perfect sense,” proclaims a sardonic Zetland, “because NGO’s are so adept at evaluating investment risks and investment banks have no idea.” (more…)

Thinking Beyond Technology to Ensure Food Security

Food production uses large amounts of water.  To be more precise, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global water use.  As the world’s population grows, increasing amounts of food, and therefore increasing amounts of water, are needed.  At the same time, there are growing concerns about global and regional water scarcity.  The question arises then: how can we use water optimally to help ensure food security?  There are a variety of technologies that can improve the situation and provide sufficient food for growing populations.  Chen Lei, from the Ministry of Water Resources in China, spoke at the WWF about some of the technological solutions that China has utilized.  These solutions have enabled his country to feed 21% of the population with only 6% of the world’s land.  China promotes the use of improved seeds, improved fertilizers, dry farming, and drip irrigation. While these are valuable technological tools, there are a multitude of other non-technological tools that can be used to address broader issues through institutional or political change. At the World Water Forum in Marseille France, a session on Wednesday, March 14 discussed this topic in a panel titled, “Contributing to food security by optimal use of water”.  Speakers from China, Mali, France, India, Nestle, among others, contributed their own experiences and ideas to the discussion. Growing Demand For Food

There is a growing demand for food globally.  Alexander Muller from the Natural Resources and Environment department at FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) set the scene for the discussion.  The global population is growing, he said.  It is expected that 60 percent more food will be needed to feed the additional three billion people that will exist by the end of the century.  In order to produce this food, increasing amounts of water will need to be consumed.  However, the barriers to producing greater amounts of food continue to grow. One barrier is decreasing resources in the face of a growing population.

Distinguishing different water qualities: Interview with Ger Bergkamp of IWA

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.