Water: Towards a Culture of Responsibility
Towards a Culture of Responsibility
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of New Hampshire Press
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INTRODUCTION: A TIME TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
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Water’s symbolic meaning is vast. Every civilization, every culture, every tradition talks about water and weaves an intricate web of meanings and symbols round it. However, in this maze of multiple echoes and resonances, some key themes emerge: first of all the mystery of our origins. Don’t the first words of Genesis state succinctly: “The spirit of God moved over the face of the waters”, even before the creation of heaven and earth? Doesn’t the Koran also say that before conceiving his creation...
I: The Water Century
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“To call things by the wrong name”, as Albert Camus used to say, “is to add to the misery of the world.” And water has suffered too much from the silence or, conversely, the approximations, of buzzwords and overblown language. Discussion on the subject of water sails between two reefs: on the one hand, indifference, and on the other, “doom watching”. Both of these in their...
1: Satisfying Growing Needs
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Water is abundant in nature and human beings have lived for thousands of years without paying much attention to it, apart from those who lived in arid zones or in areas devastated by floods. But today, our water resources appear to be dwindling. While we used to think they were abundant, they are now becoming scarcer even in countries with a relatively heavy rainfall. In Europe, water-use restrictions are regularly imposed in many regions, and water levels are sinking, marking the return of...
2: Preventing Further Loss of the Quality of Our Water Sources
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“May man once again become water’s friend.” With these words Loic Fauchon, president of the World Water Council, opened the Mexico Forum in 2006. This enmity between mankind and water is recent. It forms part of the wider enmity of modern mankind towards nature. The contamination of rivers and ground water with waste water and agricultural by-products is just one of the most striking manifestations of...
3: Europe Sets a Goal - A Return to Good Water Quality
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In more than one respect, 2015 will be a crucial year for water management. It is the target date for the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to be achieved, and it also marks, for the European Union, the end of the period in which member states must restore water quality in compliance with the Water Framework Directive of 2000, a major change of direction in EU water policy...
4: Water - The Primary Issue for Human Development
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Following the previous chapters where the growing needs for water and the fight against resources pollution were highlighted, let’s come to the third and most urgent challenge:access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. In 2008, we are not necessarily aware of what running drinking water represents in terms of public health and comfort. We have forgotten the decisive progress made by the revolution in hygiene...
II: Water's False Friends
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Although the global situation is urgent, it is far from being desperate. In order to succeed we need everyone to have a sharper sense of responsibility, more effort in research and innovation, stronger governance, finance, and a commitment to keep commitments. But we must also rid water of a pernicious plague: pointless quarrels...
1: Climate Change and Water - Disturbing Facts
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Over the years, the alerts surrounding climate change initially raised by experts have spread to inform public opinion. Summer heat waves, frequent floods, the publicity for Al Gore’s film (An Inconvenient Truth) or quoting the environment as a theme in election campaigns have all helped this new awareness. The reality of climate change is incontestable. The average temperature of the planet surface...
2: Two Misplaced "Good Ideas" - "Free Water" and "User Pays for All"
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Free water in general is one of the mistaken “good ideas” that keeps coming up in debates. It has reappeared recently in debates about water access for all, particularly in the context of the millennium commitments. Ultimately, however, large-scale application of the concept of free water involves an enormous waste of resources, because it takes away responsibility from the consumer. Furthermore, it deprives operators of the finances necessary to maintain a quality service. Free water for all is an...
3: The Private Sector - Too Much or Too Little Involvement?
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Whenever it plays a part in the management of water services, the private sector, abhorred by some whatever it does or doesn’t do, for others the panacea, gives sometimes rise to violent controversies. In France, civil society is riddled with many debates about the ways to organize the public water service and the role of private operators. Nevertheless, 83 % of French people are happy with their water service...
4: Water - Is the Service Too Expensive?
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In a parallel with black gold, water is sometimes called blue gold. It is nothing of the sort: water is not oil. Oil is a fossil resource, exploited by drilling; water is a renewable resource. According to the calculations of Global Water Intelligence, the world average price of water charged to the customer is 75 cents per m3of water in areas covered by a distributor, as against $320 per m3for oil! This study dates from two years...
5: Funders, Often Criticized But Indispensable
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International financial institutions are not loved. They are accused of being “accomplices” in world economic liberalization and of having imposed painful structural adjustment programs on countries on the verge of bankruptcy. Some of their solutions are considered to be inappropriate in dealing with a region’s economic collapse. Indeed, the 1997-1998 financial crisis in South East Asia, then in other emerging countries, has shown that several countries, which came out of it best...
III: Finding New Models
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The challenges facing global water management are many: tension over resources, changes to local hydrological cycles caused by global warming, delays in providing sanitation, chronic pollution of freshwater resources, effective implementation of the right to water and sanitation for poor communities, the emergence of new types of pollution such as pharmaceutical...
1: New Resources
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Avoiding leaks and putting an end to our consumerist relationship with nature are imperative when water and energy resources are both diminishing. In many cities in America, Asia or Africa, more than 40 % of water is lost through pipe leakages. In the distribution network in Colombo, Delhi, New Orleans or even Riyadh, leaks account for 50 %. In other words, for every two cubic metres of water taken from the natural environment and treated, one cubic metre disappears while it is being...
2: New Economic and Financial Models
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Technical solutions and new sources of water, however efficient and promising they may seem, will not be enough to overcome all the challenges facing global water management. Economic models also need to be changed in response to new objectives, sometimes contradicting the old ones. We need new tools to deal with and to adapt better to new constraints in water management. Our present model reflects the preoccupation with “hygiene” inherited from the beginning of the twentieth century...
3: Helping More the Disadvantaged
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Mechanisms for assistance need support, especially as they apply to people with no access to drinking water and sanitation services, living in emerging or developing countries. These countries are moving, at varying speeds, towards the Millennium Development Goals, and, beyond this medium-term objective, towards an acceptable service for all their people. In developed countries, greater economic insecurity compels governments to find ways to maintain access to water for poor people. Among the approaches that have been examined, some are new, some...
4: Governance - At the Root of the Problem, at the Heart of the Solution
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There are various ways to cope with water problems better. They include alternative resources and innovative technologies, suppleness and adaptability in economic and financial systems, a new social ecosystem and new forms of cooperation. These ways are already known and followed by many but it remains to follow them through, to extend these initiatives, which, however effective they may be, still remain too limited...
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In these last ten years, people have become aware of how water supply relates to issues like health, environment, development and peace. People who work in the water sector have turned their attention to integrated resource management, the spread of water scarcity, the financing of access to water and sanitation for all, the right to water, and the local management of services...
Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2011