Water Security is National Security

Water resources and how they are managed impact almost all aspects of society and the economy, in particular health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. Under present climate variability, water stress is already high, particularly in many developing countries, and climate change adds even more urgency for action. Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environ- mental dimensions, will be jeopardized. UN Water.Org

Monday, April 22, 2013

Corruption in the water sector

Corruption in the water sector is all-pervasive, affecting everything from water resources management to drinking water services, irrigation and hydropower. It occurs in all phases—from design through construction to operation and maintenance of water systems.

Corruption represents lack of integrity in people and organizations. It is enabled by lack of governance, transparency and accountability— deficiencies that can be addressed by tools that help access information, demand accountability and build partnerships. Binayak Das from the Water Integrity Network will discuss this in detail, in a webinar organized by TheWaterChannelon April 25, 2013 between 1300-1400 GMT. (Check your local timing)

Attending the webinar is free and easy. Just click here, chose ‘Enter as Guest,’ listen to Binayak and put your comments/questions to him through the chat window. If you have any prior suggestions/questions for the speaker, send them to info@thewaterchannel.tv

For more information, go to www.TheWaterChannel.tv/webinar

With Regards,

Abraham Abhishek


www.metameta.nl / www.thewaterchannel.tv

Subscribe to all other IISD Reporting Services' free newsletters and lists for environment and sustainable development policy professionals athttp://www.iisd.ca/email/subscribe.htm


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sir John Beddington warns of major global crisis by 2030

One of Britain's leading scientists is warning that the growth of the world's population will reach crisis point by the year 2030.

John Beddington, the UK government's chief scientific adviser, says food and water supplies will come under severe pressure as the Earth's population swells to 8.5 billion people.


He says the answer is in embracing new agricultural technology.


Harry Smith reports.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dramatic Retreat of the Andean Glaciers Over the Last 30 Years

Apr. 8, 2013 — The glaciers in the tropical Andes shrunk between 30 and 50% in 30 years, which represents the highest rate observed over the last three centuries.

On the Antisana in Ecuador. (Credit: © IRD / B. Francou)

IRD researchers and their partners(1) recently published a summary which chronicles the history of these glaciers since their maximum extension, reached between 1650 and 1730 of our era, in the middle of the Little Ice Age*. The faster melting is due to the rapid climate change which has occurred in the tropics since the 1950s, and in particular since the end of the 1970s, leading to an average temperature rise of 0.7°C in this part of the Andes. At the current pace of their retreat, small glaciers could disappear within the next 10 to 15 years, affecting water supply for the populations.

For the first time, a study conducted by IRD researchers and their partners(1), recently published in the journal The Cryosphere, provides a retrospective of more than three centuries on glacier evolution in the entire tropical Andean region (3).

300 years of glacier history

Since their maximum extension, reached between 1650 and 1750, during the Little Ice Age*, the tropical Andean glaciers have gradually retreated. Over the last 30 years, however, their decline has taken dramatic proportions. This summary clearly shows the peculiarity of these last decades, with melting speeds that had never been reached before in 300 years: the surface areas of glaciers in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia were reduced from 30-50% since the end of the 1970s and up to 80-100% in extreme cases. This new study confirms the acceleration of climate change in this part of the world at the end of the 20th century.

Combined methods

Based on a study of moraines(4) deposited along the glacier sides, scientists were able to map and date the former positions of glaciers throughout their retreat from the 1730s. Furthermore, aerial photographs and satellite images reveal changes in glacial surfaces after 1950. At the same time, researchers modelled glacier responses to current fluctuations in temperature and rainfall, in order to determine the relationship between climatic conditions and ice retreat. Thus, they have been able to reconstruct shifts in the climate that might have led to fluctuations in the glaciers observed.

A common cause

All Andean glaciers respond to the same climatic variability mechanisms. Whereas rainfall has remained fairly stable, the atmospheric temperature in the tropical Andes has increased by 0.7°C, in conjunction with the warming of the tropical Pacific since the 1970s. At the same altitude, the temperature is not directly responsible for the melting, which is due mainly to the balance between the radiation absorbed and reflected by the glacier's surface. However, the temperature affects the type of rainfall (solid or liquid form), and therefore the conditions for maintaining (or not) the snow pack, which helps reflect the majority of the solar energy. A lack of snow pack leads to a considerable increase in the melting of the glacier. This occurrence of bare glaciers -- during summer in the tropics or during the equinoxes on the equator -- has become more frequent over the last few decades.

Small glaciers -- less than 1km2 in size -- located within 5,400m of altitude appear to be the most affected. Should the rises in temperature projected for the end of the century(5) by climatic models be confirmed, most glaciers in this part of the Andes (whether large or small) could disappear, as was the fate of the Chacaltaya glacier above the city of La Paz in Bolivia in 2010. More


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Water for Profit: Seizing Climate Change as a Chance to Corporatize the Commons

“Not enough people are thinking long term of [water] as an asset that is worthy of ownership,” says one executive

As the effects of climate change continue to ripple throughout the planet, some groups are acknowledging that the warming planet means big money is to be made on a resource more precious than oil — water.

In an article titled "Investors Seek Ways to Profit From Global Warming,"Bloomberg Businessweek provides a revealing quote from the corporation Water Asset Management, for whom "drought is helping spur business," and for whom climate change will help them profit from water as a commodity:

“Not enough people are thinking long term of [water] as an asset that is worthy of ownership,” says Chief Operating Officer Marc Robert. “Climate change for us is a driver.”

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and founder of the Blue Planet Project, has described the kind of water rights buy-ups Water Asset Management capitalizes on as "creating a new wave of invasive colonialism," saying:

Knowing there will not be enough food and water for all in the near future, wealthy countries and global investment, pension and hedge funds are buying up land and water, fields and forests in the global South, creating a new wave of invasive colonialism that will have huge geo-political ramifications. In Africa alone, rich investors have already bought up an amount of land double the size of the United Kingdom.

And as the non-profit organization GRAIN has documented, behind every land grab is a water grab.

But Water Asset Management is not the first to see profits in water crises.

Scott Edwards, co-director of the Food and Water Justice project at Food and Water Watch, has pointed to "an insidious shift underway in our nation’s water policies that can only mean disaster for the most precious resource on the planet." He continues:

As populations grow, water demands increase and industry seeks workarounds from our environmental laws, the Wall Street investment industry is looking for new ways to profit. And what’s the best “commodity” for any investment banker? As Goldman Sachs puts it, “As a necessity for life, there is no substitute for water. It is the only utility you ingest….” For the investment banking industry, water-related death, drought and degradation aren’t calamities; they’re profit opportunities. “If you play it right,” says one hedge-fund advisor, “the results of this impending water crisis can be very good.”

The State Department, too, has laid out how coming water wars will be a chance for the U.S. to capitalize on other nations' water scarcity.

But for water justice advocates, water cannot be seen as a commodity. As Barlow has said, "We cannot buy our way out of the global water crisis. It will require refocusing on respect for nature and respect for each other." More