Water & environment - June 5
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Another Water World Is Possible
Daniel Moss, Foreign Policy in Focus
With climate change deepening the water crisis, wonky discussions of how to manage our water systems are suddenly attracting increased public attention. "Unlike oil, there's no substitute for fresh water," says Maude Barlow, senior advisor on water to the president of the United Nations General Assembly. "We all need it."
This recognition of the indispensability of water has raised the profile of groups arguing for treating water as a common good. In recent years across Latin America and Africa, consumer, human rights, and environmental organizations have campaigned successfully on referenda for constitutional amendments and laws enshrining water as a human right. At the recent World Water Forum, 25 countries signed an alternative declaration affirming that right (the official declaration weakly suggested that it was simply a human need). Here in the United States, a bi-partisan group of Vermont legislators working with the citizen's group, Vermont Natural Resources Council, co-sponsored legislation to protect that state's groundwater. The 2008 law declares groundwater a public trust and requires industries to acquire permits for withdrawals of over 56,000 gallons a day.
Yet it remains an uphill battle to shift the narrative, policies, and laws to ensure that water is managed as a commons and a human right. This work is made more difficult by the fact that the principal forum for global water policy discussions is not the UN but the World Water Forum, a mostly pro-privatization, tri-annual gathering of government delegations, non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, and private industry representatives. It is convened by the World Water Council, a French non-profit whose board of governors is dominated by water privateers.
(3 June 2009)
Turning on the Water Works
Crop to Cuisine via Global Public Media
In this episode of Crop To Cuisine, we begin our series on water, entitled Turning On the Water Works. We speak with two of Colorado's water lawyers who explain the complicated legal framework behind H2O. And we hear from Bob Munson, a farmer who has seen water come and water go - and everything in between. We also hear from our resident gardening expert, Carol O'Meara. She shares he affinity for garden pests. For more information about our guests, additional resources on local food and agriculture, or some great recipes, visit www.croptocuisine.org. You can also "Friend us on Facebook". I'd like to know how you experience your food.
(1 June 2009)
Israelis get four-fifths of scarce West Bank water, says World Bank
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian
Palestinians losing out in access to vital shared aquifer in the occupied territories
Jerusalem -- A deepening drought in the Middle East is aggravating a dispute over water resources after the World Bank found that Israel is taking four times as much water as the Palestinians from a vital shared aquifer.
The region faces a fifth consecutive year of drought this summer, but the World Bank report found huge disparities in water use between Israelis and Palestinians, although both share the mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians have access to only a fifth of the water supply, while Israel, which controls the area, takes the rest, the bank said.
Israelis use 240 cubic metres of water a person each year, against 75 cubic metres for West Bank Palestinians and 125 for Gazans, the bank said. Increasingly, West Bank Palestinians must rely on water bought from the Israeli national water company, Mekorot.
(3 June 2009)
Resource conflict. -BA