WATER AT THE CROSSROADS: A GLOBAL COMMONS
Farming, mining, urban growth, and other pressures contribute to dry lakes and depleted aquifers. Old models for conserving and protecting fresh water supplies are no longer up to the task. How can an inclusive approach for people and nature shift policy and inform coordinated responses?
H.E. Minister (Dr.) Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Ethiopia
Dr. Fred Boltz, Managing Director for Ecosystems, Rockefeller Foundation
Dr. Assia Bensalah Alaoui, Ambassador at Large for H.M. the King of Morocco
J. Carl Ganter, Co-Founder and Director, Circle of Blue
Dr. Gowing: Rabi, stay up there, please. Stay up there, please because we are now going to enter into a period of conversation. As I told you, it’s not just going to be people speaking at you. There is going to be discussion. So Rabi, please take a seat because you’re going to be joined by four others. Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, who is Minister of Water Irrigation and Electricity in Ethiopia. Welcome. Nice to see you. Come and take a seat. Fred Boltz, who is managing director for ecosystems from the Rockefeller Foundation; Dr. Assia Bensalah Alaoui, who is Ambassador at Large for the King of Morocco, welcome, and, also, J Carl Ganter, who is co-founder and director of Circle of Blue, Watershed producer, and a co-sponsor of this whole gathering.
Now, let me explain what is going to happen. This is not going to be five presentations over the next hour. We are moving towards that break and I’m going to be talking to Cardinal Turkson immediately after this, who is responsible for the promotion of integral human development. That’s going to be a conversation here and then we will have the break that I’ve been promising you, but this is known as a conversation which is a serial conversation because each of them is going to talk to the other for just five minutes. So you work it out that’s five conversations of five minutes each. I will stop them exactly after five minutes. They’re not going to go on and on and on, but the aim is really to hear from them where they agree or they disagree and, of course, if you’ve got some ideas, please use that Facebook address as well.
Rabi, you’ve stayed on the platform because you’re going to be one of the first. You’re going to be the first speaker talking to Dr. Alaoui. Where are you? Yes. You are there. So the conversation is yours. Don’t worry about me. If I see people falling asleep, I’ll tell you that you’re being really boring, but I don’t think you will be, so Rabi, you’ve got five minutes together, but that’s not five minutes each.
Dr. Mohtar: Yeah.
Dr. Gowing: That’s five minutes to hear different views.
Dr. Mohtar: Your Excellency, one of the biggest challenges, in my experience working in this nexus area, is the issue of policy coherence – and the policy coherence we’re talking about is within this sector but, also, how do you give incentives for other sectors to sit down in your office and talk about water? In specific, I’m talking about here the biggest elephant in the room that I try to address is the agriculture, the food security. I am being self-critical because I belong to that community. We use a lot of water, but we don’t have a seat on that table to really have the incentive to reduce our water use. I’d like you to highlight some of the challenges within your ministry in terms of the policy coherence, and how do you reach out? What incentives do you have for the agricultural minister and for the minister of electricity to sit down, visit with you?
Because they are your water users. They are your stakeholders. Could you highlight the within and the outside policy coherence issues that you face on a day-to-day basis that would prevent us from going into a nexus solution out there.
Dr. Alaoui: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, Excellencies. Yeah. My ministry itself is an excess ministry. It’s the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electricity. Internal coherence, I know, supporting policy framework and studies is very crucial. In a way, we prioritize how we use water. Water is a source of life as we say. Policy-wise, the primary role of our policy and strategy is to provide drinking water for human and livestock. Then comes use of water for irrigation, energy generation, ecosystem functions, and so on. In this continent we see a lot of competition creates also synergies, possibilities for synergies; therefore, our investment there really looks into multipurpose development perspective, looking at multiple use of water. And, therefore, we maximize the benefit of water also leaving sufficient water for environment and ecosystem function.
We look into three dimensions of sustainability development, also. That means we look into the economic role of water, the social role of water, and the environmental role of water. Water can also come as four dimensions of sustainability, that is, providing peace and security. If we just focus on one dimension of development, that is economic development, we cannot create sustainable solution; therefore, we have to look into the social boundaries. We have to expand the social boundary in a way, then increase access to water for everyone. In my country, we have a significant variation in terms of physical availability of water; therefore, we need to create that economic water that could provide drinking water for communities and so on.
It is the MDG era. We look. Actually, we got significant benefit in addressing drinking water in the form of low hanging fruit in a way. It was just addressing having the access to water, those people who have no water, but the SEBG now provides us a new opportunity looking at by 2070 we should have access to water for everyone.
In the nexus platform, we look into the social, economic, and the environmental. How do you keep a balance between these three and what would be … There is a zero sum game. How do you balance between these three and do you take into consideration regional variation between the cities and rural areas?
Yes. The policy and the strategy should take into account that. First of all, the framing itself is looking into what are the priorities. Human life should first get water for quenching thirst, and then we come to the economic aspect; therefore, it means you prioritize according to the policy framework that drinking water must meet the top priority, but in looking at the availability resource and you can optimize this. For example, if I build an infrastructure which is a water storage infrastructure, a dam, I don’t consume water for irrigation first, but look into, “What are the possibilities to produce energy?” Hydropower is, for example, the biggest thrust in our country in terms of generating energy. Then that water could be cascaded, and then the consecutive water is like the irrigated agriculture and, also, the balance to consistent with these standards.
Dr. Mohtar: What would you tell to a private sector who tells you, “Give me that water and I can generate more income than a farmer and I can generate more economic engines for the state?”
Dr. Gowing: You’ve got 30 seconds, please.
Dr. Alaoui: Yes. I welcome the private sector, but we discussed actually, and identifies clear creative synergies. How do we maximize the economic benefit? At the same time, also, satisfy the social and environmental needs? That is how I approach it.
Dr. Mohtar: Thank you.
Dr. Gowing: Great. Thank you very much, indeed. Now, you know what it’s like being on television. You have five minutes. You can get a lot done. It’s your turn, Fred Boltz, Managing Direction of Ecosystems at Rockefeller Foundation. You have five minutes. Remember, it’s not an interview. It’s a conversation so you can disagree with each other.
Dr. Awulachew: Yeah. Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you. How Rockefeller Foundation, which is philanthropic, is actually helping countries like mine and developing countries then realizing the ecosystem benefits of the resources?
Dr. Boltz: Well, thank you, Minister, for the question. Let me start on this solemn and truly humbling occasion by recognition our host, the Vatican, who has really brought home the importance and our responsibility to take care of our planet and its most vital resource, water. The Rockefeller Foundation has been, for over a hundred years now, working to improve the well being of humanity, and better managing our vital water resources has been fundamental to everything that we’ve done since the inception of the foundation. We started with a program of promoting global public health, recognizing the disease that was transmitted through poor water resources, diseases related to hook worm. The Foundation initially committed itself to eliminating hook worm.
Later, in the ’60s and early ’70s, we focused on challenges of food security and improving the productivity in agriculture. More recently, we’ve maintained that commitment to agriculture in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and we’ve renewed our vision for agricultural development in a manner that focuses not merely on productivity, but on the principle of resilience – and underpinning resilience is the sound management of natural resources that provide for the productivity, sustainability, and the ability of agricultural systems, natural systems, and the human economy to thrive under the dramatic changes that we’re facing in this 21st century. And maintaining the resilience of fresh water ecosystems and fresh was provisioning systems is fundamental to both natural ecosystems and human economies and societies.
That’s really central to the work of the Foundation as we look towards the future, is building greater resilience of the human economy to global change and insuring the inclusion of all in access to opportunity, access to water certainly but, also, access to opportunity for economic growth and contributing to a responsible path to progress. If I may pick up on that subject, I know, Minister, that you’ve adopted a very progressive stance on the need to embed resilience in Ethiopia’s approach to development, given the potential dramatic consequences of climate and environmental change, and you as head of the Ministry have established an ambitious program based upon resilience. Can I ask you to describe a bit why you came to that realization, and what are some of the elements of that program?
Dr. Awulachew: Yeah. Thank you. This kind of program is very essential. The population of the country is growing rapidly, but up to 80% is dependent on agriculture, so in a limited land there is considerable degradation to find more agricultural lands and, number one, then we have to reverse the degradation in order to enhance the consistent functions and management that fits properly so that we have conserved water and soil in order to enhance productivity. In this context, it’s actually annually for 30 days, 12 to 30 million farmers actually mobilized, get out into the watershed, actually, to rehabilitate their ecosystem. That is very significant. You can estimate that in billions of dollars, and while you are annually investing that labor in order to reverse degradation and enhance the ecosystem so conservation work.
That means as the policy and the strategy we take this as very serious endeavor so that productivity will be enhanced in watershed. Water reservoirs and water river systems are protected against settlement but, also, livelihood of people expand instead of just depending on co-production but, also, livelihood systems that dependent on agri-forestry, beekeeping, cutting a terrace system for livestock productivity, and so on and so forth. That is very critical. We have seen tremendous progress. In the Ethiopian Highland, degradation reached forest coverage of just 3% 12 years back. Now, we recovered it to nearly 20%. These are very significant implication on climate resilience, carbon sequestration, and productivity, and so on. So much value can be harnessed from this intervention.
Dr. Boltz: Picking up on the theme of value, which is really picking-
Dr. Gowing: I’m sorry.
Dr. Boltz: Okay. Ambassador Alaoui, then, let me turn to you.
Dr. Gowing: Well done.
Dr. Awulachew: Thank you.
Dr. Boltz: Thank you for the opportunity. Let me turn to you, because similar to Ethiopia, Morocco has taken …
Dr. Gowing: Microphone, please. Can you hear or not?
Dr. Boltz: No. I can’t.
Dr. Gowing: Just a bit closer, Fred, please.
Dr. Boltz: A bit closer?
Silvia del Castillo: Yeah, everyone has to be.
Dr. Gowing: I’m just picking up because he was having difficulty hearing you.
Dr. Boltz: Okay, very good.
Dr. Gowing: I think you’re a bit off mic for some reason. That mic may be a bit lower. Anyway, keep going and just a little bit closer to the mike. You haven’t lost any time then.
Dr. Boltz: I haven’t lost any time?
Dr. Gowing: No.
Dr. Boltz: Terrific. Ambassador Alaoui, let me turn to you on the same theme of leadership in addressing issues of water security under changing conditions of climate, environmental change, demographic growth. Morocco has been a leader, very prominently. In the climate change conference last year you took a lead role on the importance of water security for all of Africa and initiatives related to adaptation and resilience. On this issue of the nexus of growing and competing demands for water among different sectors, how does a shared understanding of water value enable us to address the challenges of competing demand? Speak to a bit of Morocco’s experience on dealing very directly with this challenge.
Dr. Alaoui: Well, thank you very much, Fred, and thank you very much Silvia and the Club of Rome, and the Vatican to associate me to this important event. Well, I am happy that you’re in the line and that Dr. Rabi has set the stage by speaking about Morocco, which has been, as everybody knows, a pioneer in this domain, not only to raise awareness when it was not fashionable, but to take action and thanks to leadership, because leadership is absolutely critical to put into music what Dr. Rabi has been stressing, the painful trade offs, the allocation much smarter, to mobilize all the stakeholders who are becoming many and especially civil society is really playing a critical role in education, which is basic for us.
We have set up a national strategy for water, but as well, parallelly, national strategy for energy, and we are trying to address this competitive claim, especially that Morocco has chosen agriculture and tourism, which are pillars of our development, and sustainable development. So it’s really, we are facing this competition, but I think that there is a sort of deploying the resources that we have. Of course, clear priority is given to human rights and the consumption into households and just to give you a figure we have moved from 48% in 2001 to 98% in September 2011 for potable water, which means this has the clear, but it is not at the expense of the rest because what we are doing parallelly is that we are raising, trying to mobilize more resources, making economy, and that’s where you really need to save and to fight. There is a real fight for waste.
And, of course, all the agenda about rationalization, about management, which is absolutely crucial, about coordination, which is really the most challenging factor for water because they’re a different department. We have the Ministry of Environment and Water. We have the High Commissioner for Water and Forest, and we have Environment Department as well. How do you make this? Because strong leadership here is absolutely critical to put into harmony all these variations, but as Doctor Rabi has stressed we have been, as well, making some priority trying to, for instance, we have cash crops to improve with security because you have more cash to buy other things where we are less efficient.
We are using the reuse of water for agriculture to irrigate the golf courses, because we are a tourist country and we do need that. Unfortunately, there is a huge stress and threats are looming over the horizon. That’s why we have to be really very aggressive in trying to take the lead in that domain.
Dr. Boltz: Excellent. I’m really glad you brought up the theme of reuse. We were talking about this yesterday, and Professor Mohtar also brought it up, which many don’t consider part of the nexus solution immediately, but it’s really fundamental to adequately valuing water as a vital resource. As was pointed out as well, we use, for instance, the Rhine 10 times before it reaches the ocean, and that really reflects a much more adequate valuing of this vital resource which we take for granted. How is reuse factored into enabling you to meet the demands of the agriculture sector, of urban demand as well?
Silvia del Castillo: Well, for instance, you know, we are using desalination for urban requirements, but purification and sanitation is really very high on the agenda because we have moved here again with a very, very significant growth to 10,000 kilometers for purification using every day 500,000 cubic meters for the reuse, and this is absolutely crucial and we do think of the saying, no drop should go to the ocean. We have to recollect every single drop that is not to waste it. Of course, it’s a metaphor, but it is symbolic and it says a lot about it. I would like very much, Fred, that you tell us how you address yourself in the Rockefeller Foundation the water challenge in the urban resilience that you have been mentioning, and as well agriculture investment …
Dr. Gowing: 30 seconds Fred, please.
Silvia del Castillo: Is the nexus relevant to you globally?
Dr. Boltz: Absolutely. It’s really fundamental and I’ll speak only to the urban resilience challenge. We’ve launched a program over the past three years called “100 Resilient Cities.” Over 80% of those cities have identified water as a top priority related to their resilience. All of them have water in their strategy long term. That for the Foundation is fundamental; not only to resolving concerns of agricultural productivity and energy, but every aspect of urban development. As we expected, 75% of humanity will reside in cities by mid century. Resolving that water nexus challenge within cities and within the basins that are provisioning water to cities is really fundamental to our human development endeavor.
Dr. Gowing: Thanks for moving through that.
Silvia del Castillo: Thank you very much.
Dr. Gowing: Ambassador, swing to the left.
Silvia del Castillo: Okay. Hello, Carl. How are you? How are you doing?
J. Carl Ganter: I am doing great. Thank you.
Silvia del Castillo: Yeah.
Dr. Gowing: You have five minutes, Ambassador.
J. Carl Ganter: Thank you.
Silvia del Castillo: I’d like you please to build on what we have been saying. What is the unseen impact of this water and energy transition since you are working very heavily on these themes?
J. Carl Ganter: Yeah, so we’re storytellers, and as we heard this morning, this is the biggest story unfolding, this nexus. We’ve seen this story grow, really, the understanding over about the last eight years or so or longer, and so as storytellers we try to see: where are these intersections? The intersection first came for me was when I saw a picture taken by astronaut Jerry Linenger, who spent four months in orbit around the planet looking down, and he showed this picture of dust storms starting in Inner Mongolia and blowing all the way to Beijing, and he could see them go all the way to Los Angeles. So I was curious. If Jerry was looking down from this space ship, who lived there and what was at the epicenter? What was the nexus? What was this heart of the story? So I went there. I went to Inner Mongolia. We had four separate teams of journalists and photographers, and data researchers into the field.
I drew Mongolia in December, Inner Mongolia. I went and stayed with an Inner Mongolian shepherd family. Literally, if you dropped a string from the Space Station down. And they were on the edge of some of the world’s largest coal mines, that Jerry could see from space. We started to really unpack the idea that water and energy, this coal/water/energy nexus, was driving or one of the biggest impediments to China’s growth, its GDP growth, because China doesn’t have enough water to continue mining and processing the coal at current rates. Well, that was an unseen reveal that we peeled back and, all of a sudden, now we’re looking around the world and seeing that this conversation of water and energy is now starting to drive renewables.
So we’re seeing a step away from coal partly because of the downsides of burning coal. Of course, the CO2 emissions, but there just isn’t enough water to mine, process, and cool the power plants that are fueled by coal. Some of these really interesting intersections – but I had a question for you. The intersections of water, food, and energy, Rabi had some great graphics, very simple, beautiful. I would love to see the organizational structure within the government in Mongolia, how you broke down. I imagine it wasn’t quite as clean an understanding of the nexus when you first started to bring the Ministers together.
Silvia del Castillo: Well, I think it’s extremely delicate because you have all these complexities and then you have really to streamline things to get better results and they have been mentioning better food productivity, better energy efficiency. We are not very good at that. We are very good at renewable energy, but we are still having problems facing energy efficiency. What we are trying and I would like to share with you, and with the audience, is that we are trying some very, very advanced technology to couple, to twin, energy and water. For instance, we are twinning wind energy with hydraulic energy because, as you know, you cannot stock energy from the wind. It’s only three to five hours, but when you recycle it with water energy, then you can stock it, and then you do use the water to reproduce the energy, which means that you are using the same water many times and you are stocking energy at the same time.
This is an extremely good news. Unfortunately, technologies which are absolutely necessary the cost effectiveness is not yet there, and experiences are being carried out. We have started already in a few places. As you know, we are very much at the forefront of these cutting edge technologies, which might be the answer, and as you very rightly said, not only for Morocco, but as well for Africa, because at the COP 22 when we had the Summit for Africa, and we had all the leaders, most leaders were interested. It is important as well. We have not spoken about really the real thing as well to face all these cutting edge issues, which is the funding, and the finance, and now we are trying to raise the finance to implement the results of COP 22 in order to put into action the Paris Accord, which was absolutely extraordinary to enter into force before the year was achieved.
This is one of our main channels. How you go about these complexities, and this is where you really need a clear vision, political will, real commitment, and mobilizing all the stakeholders and trying to have them work together, not in a very much competitive way because when competition is hard, the different departments as were mentioning …
J. Carl Ganter: Right.
Silvia del Castillo: … Want really to keep the hold on the thing and sometimes they are not the best equipped to look into the story.
J. Carl Ganter: In China, it was interesting because when we published our reporting we thought we might have some push-back from the Water Minister. However, the Water Minister welcomed this, I wouldn’t say critical, but really interesting numbers in this intersection of competition, and used it as political standing within the ministries because, as I say, if you want to build a canal or want to build more power plants, you have to talk to us to have the water to cool them or to fill them.
Silvia del Castillo: At the same time, what’s interesting in Morocco in we are trying to do is that we have this national strategy in sectors, but the global one, to try to have them harmony. With long term vision, but we have taken as well action plans with very short term and medium term action planning to make sure that each stakeholder is doing its job correctly, and then we happen to have reevaluation and with this COP 22 it was very good because it was really a learning process for us. We had to work under the urgency to make up the committee to pay for it to pay for the traveling across the world to try to convince all the other countries to come in, and then we have learned very much in this process. Now, we are trying to put into action what we have been learning and trying parallelly to share it with our African friends because we think the dynamics are extremely important.
Dr. Gowing: Ambassador, the bell has gone so thank you. There is one question here, which is specifically about Morocco and what you’re doing, in a moment. We’ll come back in a moment. Now, Carl with Rabi. You have two. You have a choice. You can either sit there and talk alone there or you can use your clicker and go over there and share a microphone.
J. Carl Ganter: I’ll go see Rabi. How about that?
Dr. Gowing: You have five minutes between you.
Silvia del Castillo: So it’s reuse.
J. Carl Ganter: We’ve heard a lot of voices here and we’ve answered a lot of questions.
Speaker 17: I can’t hear.
J. Carl Ganter: Here. There we go. What is the perception of reality? Nik has been taking some questions from outside the audience. We have an esteemed audience here. We also have a rare moment in history where we have tools of engagement. We’ve talked about breaking down barriers in ministry. How do we get people to talk to each other? How do we share? What is our perception and what is our reality? What is our data and what is our narrative in a sense here? For the first time really in our history, we can start to track the sentiment. How do we feel? How do we feel as a minister? How do we feel as a politician? How do we feel as the public?
As we learned in November, we learned that perception is incredibly important in twinning with reality and understanding the flow. So, if we take a quick look, and we’ve been monitoring this in anticipation of our gathering here with IBM Watson, with Hexagon, and with Vector Center to look at the sentiment around water and what people are saying, what they’re believing. Looking at discussions about water in Kenya, this isn’t just following Twitter streams, this is actually doing hard analysis on data and published papers as well as news streams, so we start to see this trend going up as drought starts to settle into Kenya, so we can start to listen better and start to understand what’s happening and what is actually the sentiment.
That’s actually a little flat. What’s that graph mean? What’s that mean to somebody like me who is very simple minded, and what’s that mean on a global scale? We can start to peel back and this is just to kind of understand our listening capacity here and understand the outside voices. We can start to peel back the different layers of the data and what people are talking about and actually get an idea here of the sentiment type. In the sentiment type, are we ambivalent? Are we negative? Are we neutral? Are we positive about water issues around the world? We can break down, we can show you, later, some of the data behind this. We can take a closer look even at, say, Central Africa and maybe zoom into Kenya and start to track these trends, these political trends, these reality trends, and add that data perception. What are people actually believing?
What are they understanding? What are they acting on? What do we need to do to have better messages, better narratives, better data sets to actually inform people to come to the table or to change behavior or to seek help? So really, really interesting pieces unfolding here, particularly as you see the drought settling in. So sentiment type, obviously, a negative. Let’s let this one finish for a second here and then move in. This is the type of data that we couldn’t even look at a year ago. So we have, with artificial intelligence and cognitive research, we can start looking at mass streams of data and not just throw numbers at people. We can understand what people are actually starting to think about and these are the different pieces where if we add that layer of artificial intelligence with human intelligence and maybe common sense, we can start to look at even stories like a Belgian tourist trampled to death by elephants in Kenya. What does that have to do with drought? Well, it had to do with migratory patterns of animals. So really interesting pieces unfolding. What’s going to happen in the next year/the next five years when we talk about initiatives? How do we track these issues? How do we shape messages and responses so that we can better manage ourselves in the water/food/energy nexus and, also, in the world of water, food, energy in a changing climate?
Dr. Mohtar: Carl, this is very interesting. Two thing s come to mind listening to you. Most of discussions that are happening in water in the sustainability development goals are national plans. When I’m looking here I am seeing the manifestation of a national plan across boundaries. So it’s a beautiful story that whatever … I mean, just go back to Morocco, for example. What happened if Morocco increased or reduced their phosphate production? What’s the impact of the transboundary in food security in Africa, in the world, in the entire supply chain that they impact? We are looking here at the beautiful story that maybe transcends our national boundaries in which we are confined with our policies. So when the Minister is actually concerned about water security in Ethiopia, whatever he does in Ethiopia, though, will have a transboundary effect.
Now, we’re trying to see that how that continues, impacts.
J. Carl Ganter: Exactly, and when we talk about this perception versus reality, I would say it’s almost … I wouldn’t say versus, but values and value almost perfectly aligned because we’re seeing this emergence of the conversation of value and values, and then understanding perception and reality more tightly.
Dr. Mohtar: The other thing that comes to mind is when you look at all of these data layers, maybe it’s one step towards getting us in a nexus hotspot. For example, a farmer in Ethiopia or a farmer in Kenya wants to see what would be most, better for him or her to plant in that region looking at water layer, looking at the rainfall map, looking at the soil map. Then another story evolved, which can help them better manage their food security portfolio.
J. Carl Ganter: It would be much more culturally aware.
Dr. Gowing: Right.
J. Carl Ganter: We’ve probably got some questions.
Dr. Gowing: Yeah. You’ve done your five minutes so thank you very much, indeed Rabia and Carl. Now, we’ve got a few minutes and let’s pick up on some of the questions. Did someone in here ask a question about Morocco and the rest of Africa or was it someone online? Because the question has disappeared from my pad. Did anyone ask a question about Morocco? Okay. If I may, Ambassador, I’m going to now try and remember the question. It was essentially saying Morocco is doing very well on this issue, but much of the rest of Africa is not following you or cannot keep up with you. What is it about what Morocco has done which could be an important precedent for other countries to learn from? I think I’ve encapsulated it. Did anyone in this room ask that question about Morocco? No. It must be someone out online. Ambassador, quickly.
Silvia del Castillo: Well, I think that what we have said is that we have been addressing these [inaudible 01:33:49] questions because we have a totally novel approach and I think with Africa, Africa is here to testify. For instance, in the migration policy, which is a crucial thing. We are more in solidarity and recognizing and bringing other solutions for integration for recognizing rights of the migrants and so forth. We are looking as well in another approach to self cooperation, which is absolutely crucial because you give precedence and pre-Eminence to relations between countries which are facing the same urgency and the same everything is urgent. You really have to satisfy the claims for human security of all the populations at large and you cannot have really …
It’s very, very difficult to make the trade offs, but still you have to do it. That’s why principle of solidarity is absolutely basic for Morocco. We are not very rich, but we are ready to share whatever we have because it is interdependence has been very much underlined. It is a global world, a global continent. Either we succeed together or we fail all together, and this approach is really very much possible to implement it if everybody is doing it’s part of the job. Morocco is trying to do its part of the job and setting some examples without giving any lessons because we are very arrogant and people say we are punching much above our weight, which might be true, but we have a lot of humility because we are faced with tremendous challenges that we cannot face alone.
Dr. Gowing: Ambassador can I just ask …
Silvia del Castillo: Yes?
Dr. Gowing: … One other follow up on energy and that nexus between energy and water? You are a country which is investing very heavily now in solar energy and you talked about the cost of desalination and so on. Are you creating a precedent there? Are you creating a model you think where that investment in energy can help alleviate the water stress?
Silvia del Castillo: Yeah. That’s what I’ve tried to illustrate by speaking about this twinning of energy and water, but what we are doing is that we are doing as well the interconnections, and this is helping, already, Spain and Portugal, for instance. We can do it in other regions. We are trying as well the gas pipe with Nigeria, with Africa, which means that you really have to have great ambitions and try to pursue them in order to make sure that you are making breakthrough advances.
Dr. Gowing: Right.
Silvia del Castillo: We cannot just add little sector realities and little measures. I think we really have to go much more global and more comprehensive in our approach.
Dr. Gowing: Right. Forgive me for interrupting, but I’ve got quite a lot of questions and time is short, I’ve got to keep the engine driving fast. There are two questions here connected, really, to each other from Matt Geiger and Sarah Jensen. “What can we do in our community to raise awareness to these issues and create real change?” Going back to that question right at the beginning of today, which I pushed hard. What can really be done? From Sarah Jensen, “How can we implement lessons learned from some areas of the world into others.” In other words, is there enough cross learning going on? Fred Boltz, do you believe there is enough cross learning going on?
Dr. Boltz: There is never enough learning, especially when we’re facing such daunting challenges of resource scarcity and growing demand and a supply/demand gap that’s extraordinary. How can we facilitate it? It’s through improving our education system and being attentive to updating our education system. It’s through better deployment of social media and harnessing the extraordinary capabilities of social media to get the messaging out. It’s through uniting different voices and different messages, uniting the religious community, the scientific community, and the civil society movement to unite around common messages that-
Dr. Gowing: To be brutal, do meetings like this go out? Do they create a continuity, a complementarity? Rabi?
Dr. Boltz: Absolutely.
Dr. Mohtar: I very much agree about education and awareness, but I also would like to add the incentives. People need incentive to do the right things, whether it’s in policy, whether it’s a … I mean, Germany as an example, the way Germany has expanded its renewable energy is through policies, through incentives. It’s a beautiful example that I would like to see in other countries so I emphasize that especially for the private sector that runs a lot of the supply chain there has to be incentives and the incentives through policies, through tax cuts, through whatever.
Dr. Gowing: Carl, given what you’re experiencing – and we keep meeting at conferences – is there real pick up on this?
J. Carl Ganter: I think there is in a way, but in a way the conferences over the last 10 years, if anyone remembers the movie called “Ground Hog Day,” where it was incremental steps forward? Well, there is no room for incrementalism. I mean, that’s why, here, we’re at the Vatican today. And we are bringing together for the first time the conversation of value and values, but we are also really working hard to start that long term conversation outside the Vatican and to bring these different groups together, virtually and in person, because I think that’s what we have to do. We have to drive ourselves beyond this check-the-box incrementalism and get to whatever transformation means – and transformation sometimes only happens when bad things happens, but we don’t have to wait for that. We know that bad things are-
Dr. Gowing: Are we being un-incremental enough today? Are you throwing a grenade into the auditorium here, metaphorically?
J. Carl Ganter: Maybe throw down the gauntlet. We all need to walk away from here with commitments. We all need to walk away from here with commitments of sharing that message and whatever is comfortable for us as far as talking about water, standing up when water is on the table, so to speak.
Dr. Gowing: Minister, let me just pick up with you, your experience in Ethiopia. Do you feel you’re getting the benefit of enough other practices and other experiences?
Dr. Awulachew: No, not only is enough, but we’re getting some useful inputs actually. Broadly, actually, Africa is 54 different countries. There are so many variations. In a sense, we need significant input in terms of technology transfer, capacity development issues and, also, capital. Infrastructure is a missing gap, actually. As it has been explained, 20 million people are at risk in the whole of North Africa during to drought. This drought is sequential. In 2016, it was El Nino. This year it is La Nina effect so it’s sequential drought has created that huge challenge. Now, here, energy, whatever, should be told very carefully. Access to energy to pump water from deep wells could help, actually, to overcome and create resilience, so we need to advance the technology to look into water sources and, also, capital to invest in deep well pumps and distribution networks.
Dr. Gowing: All right. We’ve just got a staging post of questions which have been put coming in from wherever they’re coming in. This last one for the moment from before I go to Cardinal Turkson: “What advice do you have for young people who want to address?” Also, water issues. It’s really picking up on quality the Archbishop said. This is a generational issue now. The young have a different view. Ambassador?
Silvia del Castillo: Well, two things. I think that education is absolutely crucial, but it is crucial as well to start very early with children to address, really, children to create new behaviors and to create new attitudes toward, not only water, but I should say all the basics of human psychology.
Dr. Gowing: Have you seen evidence of cause and effect there?
Silvia del Castillo: We have started very small level, giving incentives/prizes for the best article by children on water, on food, and on electricity. How you do to save it and not waste it, and we have instances where they are starting to teach the parents and saying, “Oh, look. You didn’t do that and you didn’t do that.” Small experiences which you can make because there is one thing that we have not talked – very briefly, if you allow me to go – is about extreme phenomenons. The extreme phenomenon and events are becoming recurrent, creating droughts, floods, just name it, and terrible devastation, human beings and livestock, and losses, which are terrible. Now, what we are trying to do as well, and perhaps this we can share, that we are preparing how to prepare to face these urgent and terrible events, which then create …
Dr. Gowing: Minister?
Silvia del Castillo: … Civil disorder, as well, so there is a security problem which is as well involved.
Dr. Gowing: Indeed. Minister?
Dr. Awulachew: Access to water is fundamental to young people, especially girls. Girls in most of African countries is occupied in fetching water than going to school. Access to water, therefore, really overcomes this serious challenge where we have good access to water in Ethiopia, for example. The enrollment rate of girls is very significant, almost coming to par with the boys, but when you don’t have that, really girls have got that challenge of going to the forest to fetch water, to collect firewood, and so on. Therefore, water access has fundamental value.
Dr. Gowing: Fred Boltz, the kind of schemes you’re doing and the impact on the next generation, half the population in many of the countries we’re talking about, including Kenya, are under 25.
Dr. Boltz: My advice: be disruptive. Be innovative. Don’t be satisfied …
Dr. Gowing: What do you mean by disruptive?
Dr. Boltz: … With-
Dr. Gowing: Take to the streets or what?
Dr. Boltz: Don’t be satisfied with 20th century solutions to 21st century problems.
Dr. Gowing: Yeah, but I have to press you on that.
Dr. Boltz: Yes?
Dr. Gowing: What do you mean by disruptive? Because there is disruption, and there is being disruptive. Are you saying that if there isn’t disruption to … You’re talking about disruption of attitudes. Aren’t you?
Dr. Boltz: I’m not calling for civil disorder by any means.
Dr. Gowing: I just wanted to be clear.
Dr. Boltz: I’m talking about intellectual disruption.
Dr. Gowing: You’re on the record in the Rockefeller Foundation calling for … I don’t need to go any further, but you know that’s why I want clarification.
Dr. Boltz: The greatest challenges spark the greatest levels of ingenuity. We face some of the most daunting challenges ever. We are too complacent. We reside in conventional solutions to unconventional problems. The youth has the solutions at hand. They mastered the technology; deploying their brain power to solve these problems is the greatest hope that humanity has.
Dr. Gowing: Carl, you get involved in the World Economic Forum and the Global Risk Agenda, and you’re on one of the councils there of water. Are you seeing real change in attitudes, or is there still a level of denial, particularly when it come to the next generation?
J. Carl Ganter: We are seeing this convergence. We’re seeing the extreme events, more visible; we’re also seeing this change in purpose. People are seeking purpose. Young people are seeking purpose. They’re seeking something to do. It’s our job to give them that something to do with their technology, with their brainpower and their compassion. I think, also, we’re seeing the arts come together with the science. We’re understanding that technology can’t solve these problems by itself. A new membrane, a new pump can’t solve the world water crisis.
It’s that will, but it is also being disruptive and it is kids on the street protesting and holding their leaders accountable when the water is dirty and when they have to walk hours a day to get water in particular parts of the world – or in my part of the world, in the Great Lakes in Michigan, holding our government accountable when they challenge funding for cleaning up the Great Lakes.
Dr. Gowing: Carl, for the moment, thank you. That’s it for the moment. We’re now going to take a break because Cardinal Turkson is going to join us so thank you very much, indeed. Yeah. Thank you. What they have proven is you can have a public conversation without a moderator so that’s good news.