Water: Shared Values
Finding common ground and sharing responsibility on a planet with finite resources.
Finding common ground and sharing responsibility on a planet with finite resources.
Dr. Peter Gleick, President Emeritus and Chief Scientist, Pacific Institute
Dr. Sara Ahmed, Gender and Water Specialist and Board Member, WaterAid India
Ambassador (Dr.) Godknows Boladei Igali, Former Secretary of Power and Water Resources of Nigeria
Yusuf Nessary, Social Entrepreneur and Founder, Zam Zam
Kasja Dahlström, Founder and President, Globetree
HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan
Jennifer J. Sara, Director, Water Global Practice, World Bank
Dr. Fred Boltz, Managing Director for Ecosystems, Rockefeller Foundation
Dr. Ian Goldin, Oxford University Professor of Globalisation and Development and a Senior Fellow at the Martin School
WATER FOR ALL: HUMAN RIGHTS PERSPECTIVE AND EMPOWERMENT
The United Nations acknowledged in 2010 that water is a human right, which set the stage for better addressing one of the most fundamental failures of 20th century development.
Dr. Peter Gleick, President Emeritus and Chief Scientist, Pacific Institute
Dr. Sara Ahmed, Gender and Water Specialist; Board Member, WaterAid India
Ambassador (Dr.) Godknows Boladei Igali, Former Secretary of Power and Water Resources of Nigeria
Yusuf Nessary, Social Entrepreneur and Founder, Zam Zam Water
Dr. Gleick: First of all, let me begin by expressing my sadness that I’m not there at the Vatican with you. A lot of my old friends are there, a lot of people I would have loved to have had a chance to talk to are there, but, happy World Water Day, and the days around World Water Day, and I’m sure that the conversation will lead to productive results and to more energy moving forward tackling the world’s water problems. I don’t need to describe the nature of the world’s water problems; you all know them. They’re incredibly severe. There are challenges that we face today that we’ve faced for many decades. There are challenges moving forward and those challenges are technological, and they’re economic, and they’re institutional. A lot of the conversations that you’re having now and will be having over the next many decades will include how to solve the world’s water problems.
But one piece of the problem is not technological, it’s not economic, it’s not institutional; it’s moral, and it’s ethical, and that challenge is around the human right to water. There is a human right to water. The United Nations declared a formal Human Right to Water in the year 2010. A lot of the conversations, again, that you’ll be having surround what that means, and what the responsibilities are moving forward to implement the human right to water. When I say this is a moral and an ethical issue, what I mean is the failure to provide safe water for billions of people and sanitation for billions of people is a moral failure. Part of the moral failure that we see around water is the failure of individuals and communities and governments to meet this need for safe water and sanitation for everyone on the planet. That’s not a technical issue. That’s not an economic issue.
We know technologically how to provide safe water from any horrible quality of water, or adequate sanitation for everyone on the planet, but we’ve failed to do so. It’s not a question of economics, because the amount of money required to meet basic human needs for water and sanitation is a tiny fraction of the cost of failing to meet those needs. That’s why when I say the challenges associated with safe water and sanitation are a moral and an ethical issue, the challenges associated with meeting the Human Right to Water are a moral and an ethical issue, it’s because we know that technologically and economically we can meet those needs. We have failed to do so because governments are corrupt or because governments have other priorities and they haven’t prioritized water as an issue, or because institutions aren’t working properly. Those are all pieces of the puzzle.
The Human Right to Water. Declaring the human right to water doesn’t magically solve those issues. They do remind us that we can tackle the failures around with more than just the traditional tools that water agencies and individuals and communities and governments have applied in the past. The declaration in 2010 by the United Nations, and by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, of the formal Human Right to Water was a tremendous step forward. It provided a moral and an ethical basis for helping to solve someone of the greatest water challenges that we face, but it was only the first step. The next step, really, is how do we implement the Human Right to Water? We individuals and we communities and we governments to meet the Human Right to Water? I believe that we’re moving, ultimately, toward the sustainable use of water. I think that’s an inevitability.
We’re not there yet. We all see, unfortunately, the challenges that we still face around water and the failure to meet basic human needs for water, the growing conflicts over access to water, the challenges associated with, now, unfortunately, unavoidable planet change, but I do think we also see success stories. There are people at the conference now who have worked tremendously hard to identify what the successes are around sustainable management of water, how we can use water more efficiently, how we can identify new supplies of water, how we can use smart economic tools to move toward more sustainable management in use, how we can re-manage our institutions that have not been entirely effective at solving our water problems to move to more effective water solutions. All of those things together is what I call the soft path for water.
Again, I think it’s inevitable that we will move in the right direction and are moving in the right direction. The challenge is moving faster. The challenge is engaging all of the communities in which we belong to move toward those successes and to spread them, to make them viral, if you will. The conversations that we’re having now around World Water Day, the conversations we’re having at the Vatican and elsewhere, are critical steps to move toward that positive future. There’s plenty of bad news out there. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the mistakes that we’ve all made at every level. The trick is getting off the idea that the approaches we used in the 20th century are going to be enough to solve 21st century water problems. They’re not. The fact that it’s the 21st century, the fact that we have not solved all of our water problems, doesn’t mean that we have to do what we did in the 20th century harder.
There are things that we did in the 20th century that we still need to do in terms of infrastructure investment, in terms of managing and creating institutions and places that don’t have them, but I would argue that’s not enough. We also need new solutions and that’s part of the soft path for water. That’s the idea of redesigning and reinvigorating our institutions. That’s the lesson of understanding what worked and didn’t work in economic approaches and placing strategies and subsidies, and thinking about new tools in economics. We’re not going to get out of our water problems by just building new hard infrastructure. There are places where new infrastructure is needed, but we had better design them differently for the 21st century, and we’d better design our institutions, not for the 20th century, but for the 21st century.
I think a sustainable future for water is inevitable. I think that’s the soft path for water that I’ve described and that so many of you are working on. The soft path means rethinking what we mean by water supply. It doesn’t mean tapping more water out of our overtapped aquifers. It doesn’t mean building, ad infinitum, new big dams that will take water from our rivers and streams and destroy our aquatic ecosystems. New supply means looking at wastewater treatment and reuse, which is being explored in many parts of the world now. It means capturing more stormwater and recharging our aquifers and using that as a source of supply. There are new supply options out there that we should move toward.
It also means rethinking demand for water and, in particular, using the water that we already have spent a lot of money capturing and using far more effectively and more efficiently, growing more food with less water, washing our clothes and washing our dishes and getting rid of our wastes and all the things that we do on the demand side with water, with less water. We’re moving in that direction as well. The U.S. uses less water today than we used 30 years ago, for everything. That’s because, in part, we’re becoming more efficient and that’s the demand side of the equation. The soft path for water also means smarter economics and smarter institutions. It means understanding the vulnerability of our aquatic ecosystems and protecting aquatic ecosystems. Ultimately, it means the Human Right to Water and understanding the critical need to meet basic human needs rather than trying to find more and more water to do the things that we’re doing poorly.
Part of what inspires me about water is, first of all, it’s connected to everything we care about. It’s connect to human health, it’s connected to the health of our ecosystems, it’s connected to climate and energy and food production and producing the goods and services that we all require. That alone makes water a critical issue that we need to address. I’m a scientist by training, I’m a parent, I’m a human being, I’m a citizen. Like all of us, water is critical for the things that we care about. I think like all of us, we ultimately have the idea that we can solve our water problems, we can move to a more sustainable future, if we just are willing to get rid of old ideas
To embrace new ideas, to embrace new communities, to embrace the idea that water is technology and economics and institutions and a human right that’s so important for all of us. That’s what inspires me about water and if I didn’t believe that we could move to a more positive future, I would have been depressed a long time ago and I would have given this up, but I haven’t. Like all of us, I think we’re committed to a more sustainable future for the planet. I think like all of us we believe that we can get there and will continue to work to achieve that future
Dr. Gowing: Onto the platform, Sara Ahmed, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali from Nigeria, Yusuf Nessary from Zam Zam Water, and Kajsa Dahlstrom. What we want to hear is their view about what they’ve just heard from Peter Gleick and their reflections on values and the value of water and the way the value of water has to change. Sara Ahmed, your-
Dr. Ahmed: [Crosstalk 00:10:30].
Dr. Gowing: You can speak from where you want to. Kajsa, right, she’s going to be in the next panel or with the next … Speak next, go ahead, please.
Dr. Ahmed: Thank you. Good evening and I’m picking up from the presentations, the inspiring presentations made by Scott and Professor Gunter Pauli who’s talked about innovations that changed the rule of the game, and I’m looking at institutional innovations that address gender equality. To me, gender equality’s a fundamental human rights principle, yet the inequality’s based on gender identities, based on differences in terms of access to resources, to assets, to endowments, to the ability to use these endowments and also access to voice and participation in water governance. To me, all these factors underscore the Human Right to Water and Sanitation; I think that’s my first starting point.
From the time that a girl child is born, and we saw that in Scott’s visuals, the time that she’s fetching water, the time that she’s denied access to education or playing like her younger brothers do. Right from that time to adolescence, when she’s dealing with menstruation, and that’s another issue that she may drop out from school. From the issues around pregnancy and safe maternal health and childbirth and all, to issues around death. Also, the whole life cycle focus you can really, really start seeing some of these gender inequalities emerge. To me, these inequalities intersect with class, with caste, with physical ability, with age, with color, with so many other social inequalities, so gender does not exist on its own. Women and men are not homogenous categories, we’re very clear about that so I’m … Taking into consideration all of these sets in inequalities, I want to just put down what I think are three critical platforms for action.
The first is to recognize the care economy where women’s time and energy is spent either in water collection or caring for elderly and the sick and how that … How our economic accounting doesn’t take into consideration all this unpaid time and work, and if it did then our indicators on GDP would look very, very different. The first is to recognize that, to use tools like gender budgeting, gender auditing, etc, which are all there and all out there, and they can be used, and they are being used, but enough and not adequately, in the water and sanitation sectors. The second is to recognize that gender-based violence is structural and that building toilets, which is a big thing in my country right now in India, building toilets by themselves does not address the root causes of gender-based violence.
They are there, they protect girls, they provide safety and security and they’re much needed, and Scott, you asked the question about how many of us have walked 15 kilometers or whatever to fetch water and all. Maybe if I said, “Walked to find a toilet when we’ve been doing field work or to find a bush or something.” That I think is something a lot of us who’ve worked in the field have done. To address gender-based violence, I think we really need to start with education and engendering education curriculum, particularly in schools. I teach a course around gender and development in a management school and it’s a core course. I’ve had students who’ve come to me in class and said, “You know, ma’am, we’ve got our periods. Can we sit at the back of the room?” I’ve said, “Yes, that’s fine.” Kids who want to talk about transgendered identities. This is all happening now in India.
It’s a very different world from when I started to teach this course 15, 20 years ago. I think building meaningful partnerships with men and boys and engaging, we do have platforms called Men Engaged, HeForShe, etc, there’s been a lot of critical feedback from some of those platforms. We need to think about partnerships in a more meaningful sort of way. Finally, the third point is about creating spaces for women and men’s effective participation. We have a whole plethora of UN statements, global statements, national statements which call for women and men to participate in water management. In India we have a lot of decentralized governance, we have quotas for women’s participation in village-level committees, 30%, 50%, etc. I think that that’s good, it’s a policy space, but in order for them to be effective, in order for them to have their voices heard, you need to really strengthen their capacities as well, you need to build from the bottom up but also from the top down, so when you move into water bureaucracies and you look at women who are trained as engineers, you find very, very few of them actually working in that management space, and I think that’s important. Moving from communities to district levels to state bureaucracies and national policies and having all those spaces effectively gendered, that is a tremendous challenge for us. I think I’m going to end with that.
Dr. Gowing: Sara Ahmed, thank you, a Gender and Water Specialist, Board Member of Water of Aid of India. Let’s go to Nigeria. You’re no longer in government but you were, Godknows Igali, a former secretary of Power and Water Resources of Nigeria. When you hear what Peter Gleick was saying, what Sara has been saying, how do you think value is put on water in your country at a time when, of course, your financial situation is dramatically worsened by the problems of oil and the oil price?
Dr. Godknows: Thank you very much. Let me begin by joining others to express our privilege we’re to over and then commend the Holy Father on the Pontifical Council for this conference. I think this is one of the most incredible conferences on water that I have attended. Men have forced to me to different places, talk on Water Week and all about the place I would do a lot of talking. I think this is what we’ve seen today and hear today has been most profound, I’m touching. Having said that, I think at the level of humanity, and now that the Holy Father has taken it up, there’s the basic understanding that water is fundamental to human existence and is very important, but I see a lot of talking and very little action. We see that we do not lack the legal framework, we do not lack the laws, we don’t lack the declaration.
From 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has recognized indirectly water as a human right and so on and so forth. At the African level we have the Sharm El-Sheik Declaration of many styles of water, 2009. The understanding that by 2025, every African will have water to drink and water for their uses. And, at national levels, as we’ve heard, a lot has been said. But not much has been achieved. I think that is a cause for concern. That is why I believe that Holy Father has taken it up because it means that … I mean water is fundamental. Like you have said in the encyclical, that water is the basic foundation of every other human rights. It means that the absence of water for multipurpose use is an emergency, is a challenge beyond description.
From what we have seen and the reality and the truth is that every morning, unfortunately, culturally, in many parts of the world, the girl child has to still go and get water. Every morning the girl wakes up 5:30 in the morning and has to go look for water for the rest of the family. This goes on, and so water is a social justice issue. First-
Dr. Gowing: Dr. Igali, can I come in because you were the former secretary for Power and Water Resources in Nigeria.
Dr. Godknows: Yes.
Dr. Gowing: You say, “Not much achieved.” What were you facing, which was obstructing you, which meant that the kind of challenges, big challenges in Nigeria, meant that you weren’t able to actually address them and tackle them in the way that you now say should have been done?
Dr. Godknows: There are a number of problems. I believe that the first problem is the issue of the basic understanding which is a foundation. Beyond that is the need for us to mobilize resources and deal with the social justice aspect at global level.
Dr. Gowing: What could have helped-
Dr. Godknows: The facts-
Dr. Gowing: What could you not do though?
Dr. Godknows: The fact is that to harvest water, to process water, to make water available for multipurpose use, is not cheap at all. It’s extremely expensive and the resources was not available at every level where the resources are needed. Secondly, the resources have to be used properly, have to be used efficiently, and the institutions have to be built to use those resources, and that’s an area that we need to work together globally. We’ve had, just recently, the idea of using 20th century solutions for 21st century problems. I give you a typical example: we provide water in rural places and use generated plants to generate the water, but we now have to realize that we have to do that with maybe solar, for example, in a place like Africa, so that solar can be the solution for parting the water systems, so we don’t have to use the same traditional systems.
These are some impediments, and also, the issue of sharing, sharing experiences. The Philippines has done quite well. Morocco has done quite well in irrigation. There’s a need for us to work more concertedly and share experiences. I think there shouldn’t be any donor fatigue. Not what I mean, donor not only talking about free money, no, but corporate entities working together to look for innovative solutions. That’s like-
Dr. Gowing: Dr. Igali, what I’m trying to get at is-
Dr. Godknows: Yes.
Dr. Gowing: What were you facing as obstructions? What was getting in the way in a country which is meant to be oil-rich-
Dr. Godknows: Yes.
Dr. Gowing: Which should have resources to do what you’re talking about? You were in government-
Dr. Godknows: Yes.
Dr. Gowing: Until last year.
Dr. Godknows: Yes.
Dr. Gowing: What was in the way? Help us understand what was blocking.
Dr. Godknows: All what I’ve said come all together. Mind you, it’s a country of 180 million people so the ability to build the dams and be able to have its water processed, distribute it, regulate it, make it available for irrigation, make it available for drinking, are huge. Also, managing the other issues connected with money, the institution, building institutions to see more water in a modern way and balance it properly between water as a social good or universal commonwealth and also the commerciality of water are all challenges and these are the things we try to do.
Dr. Gowing: Right, the final question. Before the oil price fell 60% three years ago and became a massive financial problem for Nigeria, why were you not using oil wealth to actually build this water capability?
Dr. Godknows: We did. We did, we moved the water availability from 20%, today to 60%, so it’s a good mileage. It’s not where we should be, but from 20% we moved to 60% and I think according to [inaudible 00:23:40] and I think that is a 58, 60% and I think that is a fairly good mileage.
Dr. Gowing: Right, well let me got Yusuf Nessary, social entrepreneur and founder of Zam Zam Water. Value of water. How much has it appreciated in what you’re doing? Just explain what you do.
Yusuf Nessary: Good evening everyone. What we do at Zam Zam Water, is an organization that I started in 2014 on my 26th birthday. I got a monetary gift from my father and I wanted to actually do something with it instead of buying a new iPad or a computer. I wanted to create an opportunity, and “Zam Zam” actually means to come together, so I wanted to create an opportunity for the youth to come together to try to serve those that are disadvantaged. I took a couple of trips while going to school in undergraduate at St. Mary’s College of California, a Catholic, private LaSallian School, to Rwanda. When I went to Rwanda my life completely changed, seeing individuals living in conditions such as those. My family is from Afghanistan. I was born in America but my family sought refuge in Afghanistan in 1980, so growing up in a family such as that and understanding the trials and tribulations that they went to, I was more so empathetic to certain situations.
We started out raising funds for a water well through social media. We built our first well in Uganda. What I wanted to do with our organization was that transparency and invisibility was the number one thing. Because as far as the youth goes, we mentioned earlier tonight the statistics that people do not trust charities, and I wanted us to be different, and how is that possible? Is that the youth would facilitate the entire organization. I’m the eldest of all of the board members. I’m 28 years old, and we are a 100% volunteer-based organization, so we can 100% say that all of our funds can go straight back into the organization and to the projects themselves, because no one receives any type of monetary compensation. From that, we’ve grown from an organization that does not just provide water, but access to education.
If Afghanistan and Kabul we built the orphanage for 300 boys and girls, actually from the well that we established, we were able to build a structure. In Rwanda we provided sustainable farming in the form of 20 community gardens. We provided them with farm animals, with chickens and goats. From year to year on annual basis, I actually physically go and visit every single project that we accomplish because that connection that we make with the villages themselves is a connection that our youth in the West, in Europe, wherever they may be, is something very, very important. I think that disconnect is what drives the youth from not wanting to support, not wanting to contribute, and not wanting to serve.
Dr. Gowing: What do you think the expectations of your generation are, particularly not where you live in the United States, but the next generation, the half of many of these populations which are under 25?
Yusuf Nessary: That’s a tough question. The expectation I would think is that we feel that we deserve a place at the table. Not just at the table, but a plate to eat as well. I feel that next year, hopefully, at the water conference I’m not the only youth organization that’s represented here. I want there to be five times as more, then the following year for them to be 10 times as more. For me, Zam Zam, that means to come together, and I want to bring everyone together to understand that this is a problem that my generation is going to have to answer for. I have a 2-1/2 year old niece and I want to create a better life for her and to have to worry that previous generations, the mistakes that they made, they failings that they made, that we actually tried to do something, anything, regardless of what it is.
Dr. Gowing: What happens when you mention that elsewhere? What kind of resistance do you face, still?
Yusuf Nessary: Trust. Trust is the biggest thing. Because of my age, because of the lack of years of our organization. Since its inception, the biggest thing is people don’t want to take the youth serious. My whole initiative, my whole inspiration and motivation is to show others that the youth can accomplish something. I didn’t have a huge grant, I didn’t have a huge trust fund that allowed me to create an organization. I had $250. From there, in the past 28 months or so, we’ve raised over $650,000 and accomplished, and completed over 15 water projects in Uganda, [Marasa 00:28:06], in Rwanda, and in Afghanistan. We haven’t taken one dollar from any corporate funding. All of our funds come from the grassroots level. We have the youth donating and continue to donate.
Dr. Gowing: Picking up what Peter Gleick said, talking about optimism, you can see good opportunities. You come from a country where a million people come into the jobs market every month, 12 million a year India. Now, when you listen to what we just heard from Yusuf, help us understand the expectations still, particularly as you have more in your countries, Sara, who are moving towards the middle class. They’re coming off the bottom, therefore they have greater awareness, they’re more connected and so on. How much this is if you like a political time bomb, whether it be Modi or any other leader or any other state leader?
Dr. Ahmed: Yeah, it’s a good question. Yes, India does have a very large youthful population. In fact we keep commenting now that whenever we go out we feel like the oldest person in the restaurant or the bar or anything. We have a very large initiative called Skilling India. Skilling India is supported by the government and also by corporate funding. That really, I think a lot of those technical skills are being deployed into community-based work, into developing infrastructure that communities can use. The other big area where our youth are involved is the whole information/communication/technology sector, so ICTs in India, we know that. It’s a big thing and young people are doing some amazing of these-
Dr. Gowing: Do you think though that in India the state governments and so on are prepared to listen, in the way we just heard Yusuf got applause for, for saying, “The young have got to be listened to?”
Dr. Ahmed: I think that the prime minister right now is focusing very much on the youth and engaging the youth and I think he’s very, very conscious of that. There may be other things that trouble us but I think this whole focus on the youth is very, very strong in India and the-
Dr. Gowing: Right, but [crosstalk 00:30:23]-
Dr. Ahmed: Although we do have a lot of old politicians, that goes without saying, but we do have a lot of good, young people coming up.
Dr. Gowing: Right, just before we go to Kajsa Dahlstrom, as he going to talk as president of Globetree about giving voice and giving hope for the New Generation. Finally, Dr. Igali, when you hear this and you hear Peter Gleick saying, “I’ve got to be optimistic,” you say … You said earlier, “There are a lot of people in the way, blocking what needs to be achieved.” How do they get persuaded? They’ve got to think differently? This is not going away.
Dr. Godknows: I think there’s a need for us to set targets and timelines toward the actions that need to be taken globally. There has to be more global partnership. When I spoke earlier, I was not talking about only my country, but in times of the fact that there are inequities, there are [inaudible 00:31:18] between various parts of the world and there’s a need for us to walk together collaboratively and intelligently, nationally, and at a level of regional governments and individuals. There must be ownership by the communities that are involved in water-based projects. Let there be a global partnership for water because of the centrality and then move forward in times of timelines that can be realized and timelines that can be pursued vigorously.
Dr. Gowing: Do you see on the agenda of the G20 for the UN?
Dr. Godknows: Not only the G20, but also at other levels. Not everybody’s seen G20, so yes the UN will play a major role but I also see regional bodies and sub-regional bodies and national governments. Now that the church has taken it up, I think all that faiths, and all the faith-based groups, can also play a major role in creating the awareness that this is a global challenge, and particularly for generations like him. For us to ensure that if we are beginning to experience some scarcity, all of our children will have water all over the world in the quantity and in the quality that it should be.
Dr. Gowing: Right, good. Thank you very much, indeed-
Dr. Godknows: Thank you.
Dr. Gowing: Dr. Igali, and also Sara Ahmed and also Yusuf Nessary. Thank you very much indeed. Let’s move on.
WHAT WE DO TODAY IS OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE
The numbers are appalling. One-third of schools worldwide lack access to safe water and sanitation. Every 90 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. Some 160 million children suffer from stunting and chronic malnutrition linked to water and sanitation. Diarrhea is the third leading cause of child deaths, a majority of which are water-related. How can the world respond?
–Kajsa Dahlström, Founder and President, Globetree
Dr. Gowing: Remember that message about the next generation. It’s something certainly in my work I see time and time again, the fact that the next generation’s voice is simply not being heard at boardroom level or in government level as well. Let’s ask Kajsa Dahlström. Kajsa, please.
Kajsa Dahlström: Thank you so very much for being invited. I must thank you for giving me the tears today. It was so moving to hear your stories. That’s why I’m also going to tell you … I’m going to start completely different than I planned. I want to tell you about the moment when tears actually change. I was invited, Globetree was invited, to come to the United Nations in Nairobi to [UNUP’s 00:33:34] Governing Council Meeting to have any opening ceremony. I said, “That would be lovely to do that, but then you should have on stage, not people like me, but you should have children from the streets, from the slums, suffering from AIDS, and who are having disabled children and the very rich children who are locked up in their castles and wave out their windows when they pass children in the streets.”
I would like to have children with different life experiences being on the stage, and I need about 300 of them so that there is some power. Then UNUP said, “Okay, you can have that,” and we worked. Here comes all the ministers of the world, and ambassadors, and the whole hall was filled. I was outside with the kids, we had rehearsed and then I sad, “Now, you have your chance of your lifetime! Now, take it!” They moved in. I have seen so many children doing performances and since I’m an actress, I’m working a lot with children. Some think, “Are they coming in right? Is this one coming in? Is that one doing it right?” So that I’m not really seeing the performances, but here I feel, suddenly, tears falling down my face. I said, “What’s this? I never cry.” Then I looked at Dr. Turkfor, and he was also in tears.
I looked around and everyone was like … Taking their tears away. I turned to Dr. Turkfor and I said, “Dr. Turkfor, it’s these tears that changed the world, it’s not your papers.” He was nodding. Then I whispered again and I said, “Do you know what? You should care for this moment when the world is touched by the children who have something to tell.” He nodded and he nodded and they were silent. Then he said, “Come with a suggestion.” He handed over the whole idea to me and I said, “What shall I suggest?” Now, when he has told me to do it. I went around and I went around. We invited children to the UN. I said, “What shall we suggest? We have now this chance.” By the way, the children, the President [inaudible 00:36:19] was there, and he was also so touched, so came out to all these kids, three or four hundred of them, said, “I invite you all for lunch.”
Imagine? The street kids were invited for lunch to President [inaudible 00:36:33]. They couldn’t believe it. Anyway, we worked and we worked and we worked, “What shall we suggest? And it cannot cost anything at the United Nations.” Finally we decided for a tree, a big, beautiful Acacia tree. This tree shall be the meeting place where children and the world decision-makers will meet and dialogue concerns for children, which leads me over to this table because here you have branches and twigs from that tree. The idea was that here on stage should not be a 70-year old old lady, but it should be children from Dandora. We had a goal set, and Dandora is, they say, it’s the biggest dumpsite in the whole of Africa is in Dandora. So he said, “These children should stay here and tell their story.” We invited Daniel. He should also bring water. We always bring water when children come together, so he went to the river. He says, “This must be the most dirty river in the world.” I don’t believe that but that’s what he believes; so, that’s Daniel. They took water and here he went to the dumpsite and then he met Mary and Mary should also join. There, in that dumpsite, I’m sure, is the most dirty water there is on earth, as all other dumpsites are. It’s very profitable to dump chemicals and poison, then the guys who run the dumpsite gets a lot of money. All of these chemicals, all of that is not in that water that they wanted to bring. Anyway, the embassy said, “Yes, we will manage to get them the visa. I told [inaudible 00:38:41], “We are coming.” Everyone was happy. The day after somebody else say, “No, they cannot get the visa,” so they couldn’t come.
Then we said, “Okay, just send the water.” They went to DHL, and they had never heard of DHL, but I found out where and how and so and so, but they couldn’t send water. There was like, nothing works; nothing, nothing, nothing, works. So, here we are with this bowl of water here, you see the water here. This bowl of water has water from every country in the whole world. Children go to a place they care for, they take a cup of water and they unite the water in different programs that we have around the world. Then, even from space, astronauts brought from space to this water. In this bowl, the children decided, for this conference, they wanted to have their water in this bowl, and then they had one very, very simple question. It says, “What way? Choose.” That was possible to send, because that was not water, so that came in time.
It’s painted on the house, so this is the metal that the houses are made of, and I’m sure many of you have been in that. These children, from Dandora, and Mary, with her very simple message. Can you give it? She has a 13-second message. She speaks Swahili and she says, “My dream is that I have water to drink that is clean, that I have water to cook that is clean, and that I have water to wash my clothes that is clean.” That’s her simple message. We do invite children from Dandora to Sweden, and now they are asked to come again and again and again, so those that’s thousands and thousands of children in Sweden who learn from the children of Dandora. These children, however bad it looks in their environment, and it’s really horrible, I can hardly stay there, when I work there, I really have to put myself together, it’s stinking, really, really bad, but we work there and we do it, and imagine, I cannot stand for a week or two and they live there year after year. The water runs into the houses and it’s a horrible story. They come to Sweden and they tell about their life. All these houses with children in Sweden start to think and get the perspective of what they have and what they have lost. They say, “But how can you be so happy? How can you dance, how can you sing, when you live in that environment?” They said, “It’s so incredible that we are alive. Imagine we live, because that neighbor died and then that one died and that child died and that mother died and that father and that grandmother, but I’m still alive.” That touches the children of Sweden, so now that we come in September, and October, and end of August up to 1st September is the Stockholm Water Week.
I’m sure we should meet again in Stockholm Water Week, then you will meet the seven of them, those who didn’t get the visas, and they will share with you with our stories, like you did here today. You shared your stories that made me cry. What I also want to tell you is that this place are meeting at the UN in Nairobi, has inspired so many mayors to also have that tree where they meet the children. Then many mayors say, “We always met under a tree. Why have we stopped that?” Now they take that tradition back again and here’s Wangari Maathai and she was telling … She’s a Noble Prize Laureate and handled The Green Belt Movement. She came and talked about her mother speaking to her about roots, how important roots are, and she gave her the love for trees and she became Nobel Prize Laureate.
This is so inspiring for the children to hear that, to get their stories, the inherited stories. My dream is, 3,000 years ago the Olympics started with a very small group of people, and it’s huge. I would like to have the World Championship Incorporation and all nations come together, and all the people who are joining should get a gold medal. We did that at the Globe Arena in Stockholm. Children brought what they think is important for the future and they build their landscapes. They said, “This is important,” then they build bridges between one another over the globe. In that, doing that, we invited the mayors, we invited the business people, we invited university lecturers, we invited experts to come in at night after the children had built their landscapes.
The children left some notes behind saying, “I want my water from Stockholm to reach over to Indonesia. It was like a long stretch and we’ll put papers. Can you lease give us real water?” The mayor of Stockholm came and he saw that note and he said, “Mm?” He called the fire brigade and he said, “You’re needed here now, come please,” and some building construction people, they made a construction with real water from Stockholm to Indonesia. There were lots of lots birds laying in the floor, about three or four hundred of them, and these kids wrote, “We want our birds to fly.” They called somebody to come with sky lift. They came high up in the globe and then they understood, “My God, now we understand why the kids needed this perspective from the birds.” The kids were teaching the mayors, the experts, all these adults who came who were invited for the night-building team.
I would like that to happen, that we bring in people from around the world and that it becomes as famous, as big, as important, as running, as soon as we … As quick as we can, jumping as high as we can. That way we’ll be the best in the world in cooperation. I would like that to be included in the future of this seminar, conference. Thank you very much.
Dr. Gowing: Thank you for leaving those examples.
WATER IN PEACE
The health and welfare of refugees is a global crisis, and water is once again at
the nexus. How can nations work together to provide the basic human right of
access to water? What is the role for water diplomacy?
–HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Chairman of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, Amman, Jordan
Prince Hassan: Ladies and gentlemen, coming from a country that draws it name, Jordan, from the Jordan River, a river in name today, I think I have every motivation to speak about my brief experiences of water and people. In 1967 I returned from university in England to build refugee camps. The first question I asked, “Why are we building these camps on water aquifers?” was answered by, “Well, this is only a temporary situation.” I’ve always asked myself, “How temporary is temporary?” Today we are speaking of a refugee crisis, a migrants’ crisis. Each silo of United Nations organizations refers to movement of population, but no one talks about the big picture, about the nationals and residents of the countries involved including, of course, this new demography of refugees. I want to say very clearly that in terms of figures, there’s an urgent need to recognize the capability and the carrying capacity in relation to water and consumption, municipal and industrial water.
How many days a week do people drink? What kind of quality of water are they drinking, and at the same time, in terms of close waters environment, such as the refugee camps, how far does a girl have to walk if there is no electricity. In the absence of interdisciplinary thinking, I think the problem is, going back to civil society engagement, that there is no basic knowledge base on which civil society can draw. Let me just enlighten those of you who may need to be reminded. 13.5 million civilians are in need of humanitarian assistance; nearly half of them are children. In Zaatari camp, the largest camp in Jordan, 80% or more are children. I want to point out that stunted growth, disease of various kinds, is being warded off with the professionalism of the humanitarian and the health experts.
I have been asked by the World Food Program if it is possible to consider a zero hunger campaign for our region. How can you talk about zero hunger without taking a broad look at nutrition, supply, agriculture, the quality of soil? Most importantly of all, are people located where they should be in terms of water rationale? Years ago the president of Turkey, Turgut Ozal, said to me, “We have no objection,” and they are the upper [inaudible 01:06:06], “To sharing water with our neighbors” – That is to say Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine – “If we know exactly that there is regional stabilization effort whereby the supply and demand issue is addressed.” Today, I want to say this has walked through my mind, this particular conversation. When we look at over four in five Syrians living in poverty with 69% living in extreme poverty, existing on less than $2 a day, we’re still taking water to people rather than people to sources of water.
I go back to how long, and how temporary, is temporary? I remember, in 1977, the first opportunity we had to see flowing water and electricity in the Jordan Rift Valley, as a young man sitting next to an elderly gentleman, a farmer. I said to him, “What do you think of the electricity, the lights coming on and the water flowing?” He said, “This is the night of destiny.” I would like to say that the time has come to forge our own destiny by recognizing that the challenges that we face in terms of water are not simply the existential challenge of 80% of our very existence in this world. Our very being is water more or less, but by recognizing that the importance of a thematic approach to existential issues, to poverty, to hunger, to human dignity, is basically the answer to the so-called security argument that drones on and on in terms of weapons of mass destruction, in terms of terror and extremism.
I think I would be pushed to extremism, if not further, if I were deprived of all the basic essentials that makes human beings … That make human beings human. I thank Cardinal [inaudible 01:08:10] for his inspired leadership of this part of this event. I hope that the conclusions that you come to recognize the importance of human security and, in particular, water security on the basis of a revival of interest in stabilizing the Levant. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, are host country and to refugees, countries to refugees. In 1990, let me just tell you our small country was meant to be 2-1/2 million. Today, we are almost 11 million souls without any discrimination. I think that it is absolutely vital for us to relate water issues to the future of generations to come. Thank you for you kind attention.
Dr. Gowing: And bring this together. And also, see whether there is a way forward to create a springboard from this event, and also because of the spirit of what we’ve heard, not just in this room but the realities of what is developing.
WATER’S FUTURE: VALUING THE INVALUABLE
How can we redefine water’s future as the underpinning of human well-being, environmental sustainability, planetary resilience, and equitable growth?
Jennifer J. Sara, Director, Water Global Practice, World Bank
Dr. Fred Boltz, Managing Director for Ecosystems, Rockefeller Foundation
Dr. Gowing: Can I invite Jennifer Sara from World Bank, and also Fred Boltz to come back from the Rockefeller Foundation onto the platform, please, because-
Jennifer Sara: Yeah, I can start and then Fred will-
Dr. Gowing: Well, he’s coming in.
Jennifer Sara: Oh, there you are.
Dr. Gowing: From the Rockefeller Foundation because we need to know where the rules need to be established of any kind that are fair and just and informed by the values we’ve been talking about for the last hour and a half. Sara, you’re going to talk for about five minutes, and then, Fred, you pick up please, on your view about rules and values and how this can be … Whether it needs to be codified. We heard from the former minister for Water Resources about the need to mobilize international opinion and internal governance on this. Sara.
Jennifer Sara: Thank you very much. Can I ask everyone just to stand up and stretch, and give yourself a big round of applause, because this is commitment. This is commitment and this is what we all need to bring the agenda forward, so thank you all for staying so late, we’re in such a long day.
Dr. Gowing: I apologize for not asking you to do that myself.
Jennifer Sara: I’m sorry, Nick.
Dr. Gowing: You got better value for the World Bank.
Jennifer Sara: In the few minutes I have, I wanted to talk about three things and I’m not a storyteller, so let me start with that. I will share with you a little bit about my own story about water, and then I wanted to acknowledge what I heard today about our shared values of water. Then the third point is to propose the need to translate these shared values into country-led water management systems. I listened to all of these incredible personal stories about water throughout the day and it made me think about my own life and my own history of water. I grew up in rainy Belgium, so I really never … I took water for granted, it was not a big deal for me. My first experience working with water and sanitation was as a college intern, and I was able to go work with the Indian Health Service in the United States on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
One of the things I will always remember is – we were out doing pipeline surveys with my colleague, a Navajo Indian named Cecil, in the New Mexico desert. I remember him saying, “We need to hike up to the top of this butte so we have a better idea of how we could design the water line.” I remember looking at Cecil, looking out onto the horizon, he was looking at the river flowing below him and he was looking at the eagles soaring above him. I just saw emanating from Cecil, this aura of spirituality and grace. He stood there, completely at one with nature, and that really inspired me. Then, a couple years later after I graduated, as a young engineer, I spent two years as a volunteer in Northern Liberia, very familiar … Looking at the same types of water systems that Sam showed us earlier.
There I realized everything I learned in engineering school didn’t serve any purpose at all because going out and building wells and working with women on hand pump maintenance and discussing hygiene and building latrines was are what it was about. I remember at the end of each day, we would go down, all the women and children … It was always the women and the children, down to the water hole, again, looking like the water we saw today, to collect the buckets of water that people would use for the evening meal. I remember looking in to that pond of water and seeing our common humanity reflecting back. Fast forward 28 years, and here I am, waking up every day feeling blessed with the opportunity to think and work on global issues of the World Bank on global water issues.
Last year we were fortunate to facilitate the provision of water to more than 25 million people and sanitation as well as long as … As well as irrigation systems. Last week we had a conference with 400 staff and partners from our country offices to discuss what it would take to achieve a water-secure world for all. Fred was there, several other people who are here, and we shared lessons on delivering water and sanitation services to some of the poorest communities around the world. We talked about, “We can’t fix the pipes. We need to fix the institutions that fix the pipes.” We discussed policies that help governments build river projects at scale, national programs. We talked about sanitation without sewers and using waste as a resource.
We discussed the devastating flood in Peru and the terrible droughts in the Horn of Africa, and how these disasters were the result of not only water extremes, which we are living more and more every single day, but the inability of countries to manage these extremes. There was a picture up there, it’s not there anymore. I did have a picture of a woman, and again, we all have our stories. Last month I was in Angola in the town N’dalatando, and again, where women for the first time in their life are receiving water in their community and just how the smile on their face and the joy. I think that’s the value I bring to water, that water brings to me.
The second point that I would like to make today is to try to summarize all the rich conversations of what we’ve heard today. I want to suggest what I feel are the essential ingredients to shifting our planet to a more sustainable, equitable, and virtuous path. I believe that this calls for a fundamental shift in the way we value water and how we manage water resources. We’ve heard all day today that the one thing that ties all life and earth together is water, water essential to human existence and to dignity. It is required for food, energy, manufacturing and other economic activities. The lack of safe water and sanitation directly contributes to intergenerational childhood stunting. Water is both an input to production and a source of destruction, and there’s no way to ensure peace and security without water.
Yet, today, we live in a world with a looming water crisis. Unless we change the way we live, we consume, we produce, there won’t be enough clean water to sustain us all in the future.
Sure, they’ll be water in 30 years, but water will become scarce, much dirtier, and much more unpredictable to manage because of rapid population growth, expansive urbanization, industrialization, migration, and accelerating climate change. As a global community seeking to address water-related challenges across the planet, we must find ways to value water’s many functions more effectively. This brings us to this figure, up here, where we try to capture everything that we heard to day on the values of water and the three aspects that intertwine aspects of water that make it unique. The first, at the top of circle, is ecological, and we discussed to day that water is the essential natural resource that sustains all planetary functions. Therefore, it’s perhaps the ultimate irony that our environmental record has been so abysmal by any standard. We need to learn much better how to share this finite resource, amongst ourselves, as well as with all other species on earth. Not only do we consume too much and leave too little for other beings, but by doing so we undermine the very ecological systems that keep rivers flowing. We need to develop a water conservation ethic.
The other circle, spiritual, cultural, social, ethics … Water is also essential to the flourishing of all human cultures. The quest for water’s always determined where people live, where cities are built, and it still influences the migration of humans and animals alike. It has shaped legends, cultures, and has united, as well as divided, societies. Sitting here in the Vatican, one of the most spiritual places on earth, we cannot help but to be reminded how closely water is linked to profound spiritual beliefs across the world. Water represents our common humanity.
Finally, water is the common currency that connects all sectors of the economy and most of the 17 sustainable development goals. Hence, water-related risks cascade throughout the economy. Inadequate water management can constrain economic growth, exacerbate poverty, and make worse the negative affects of water shocks like floods and droughts, like we just talked about in Peru and the Horn of Africa. We need to find ways to use and reuse water economically and productively.
That brings me to these three circles, and the sweet spot in the middle which I’m calling a place of shared value that a society has towards water. Go to the next slide, please. This brings me to the last point which is about the challenge we face in finding efficient, inclusive, and affordable ways to manage our water. We need to translate the shared value for water into water management systems that can deliver services, especially to those in need, while at the same time safeguard the ecological integrity of the resource. Let us all imagine, can we imagine? Let us bring in the new generation. Imagine if we could all work together to achieve the new sustainable development goals. Imagine if, in fact, in the next 15 years we could achieve universal access to water and sanitation. Imagine that countries share water on transboundary basins. Imagine that societies begin to use water more efficiently, improve the quality and protect ecosystems for generations to come. At the World Bank, along with our partners, we are committed to support countries to build the institutions, the information systems, and the infrastructure needed to better manage water.
In so doing we support governments to develop the solutions that will lead to real change. Our stance is that we cannot, and should not, prescribe how countries will achieve their water goals. Country approaches will vary across many dimensions. Resource endowments, how much water is there available? How expensive is it to capture the water, to store it, to treat it, to distribute it, to recycle it. The development priorities, the economic structures, the political structures, culture, social values, all of these are different in every country. Therefore we focus on three areas. The first is to help build the institutions, information systems, and the infrastructure that will translate the value society places on water to better ways of managing the resources. We believe in promoting institutions that are trusted, transparent, and responsive to their citizens and to provide services that are efficient, inclusive, sustainable, and accessible to all.
Of course, we are a bank, and we bring financing. While we have 25 billion dollars of financial commitments in our ongoing programs across 60 countries, we know this is just a drop in the bucket. Delivering, and more importantly sustaining, drinking water, irrigation, flood protection, sanitation services, is an expensive task, so we’re also helping countries to mobilize the huge sums of money they will need to close the financing gap. As part of the financing challenge we place a huge importance in ensuring that governments and citizens aren’t cheating value for money and have in place policies that incentivize water-use efficiency.
Finally, and not least is the World Bank is committed to participating in partnerships and in this global watershed dialogue on the value of water. We also recognize that high-level political leadership and commitment is required to tackle the magnitude of the global water problem. As such, the bank and UN, last year, convened a high-level panel on water comprising 11 heads of state to promote and advocate for water and financing of water. The real value of this panel is the convening power of these political leaders. They’re using this leadership role to mobilize action and paralyze change in their own countries and beyond.
Dr. Gowing: You need to finish.
Jennifer Sara: I’m finishing right now and I’m handing it over to Fred, thank you. I just want to say we all need to stop wasting water, stop polluting it, and enable universal access to those humans and ecosystems. I would like to call on Fred Boltz from the Rockefeller foundation, who is one of our newest partners to say why the Rockefeller Foundation values water.
Dr. Boltz: Thank you, Jennifer. Thanks very much, Jennifer. Friends, I’m going to go off script and onto the screen, if you will. I wrote a brief note which I think will capture the essence of the 10 to 15 minute conversation we were just about to have in about a minute and give you back that nine minutes.
Jennifer Sara: No, we’ve changed. That’s it.
Dr. Boltz: I’m saying if I may, Nick, I’m going to do this in about a minute and then wrap.
Dr. Boltz: Thank you all for staying with us. Water is essential to all life on earth. The book of Genesis tells us that water was present in the beginning. The value of water is arguably infinite, as without it, life as we know it cannot persist. Today we’ve heard of manifold values of water, spiritual, cultural, social, economic, and ecological. We’ve been inspired by so many gathered here today from an extraordinary address by His Holiness, Pope Francis, this morning to a rich day of dialogue featuring a wealth of leaders, all of you. Thanks to all of you, we have a more profound understanding of the power of knowledge, understanding the earth’s system and the integral dependency of humanity on nature as inimicably portrayed by Dr. Sullivan, the power of spirituality, of moral and ethical conviction, eloquently portrayed by our hosts, Cardinal Ravasi and Archbishop Gallagher, and also by Dr. [inaudible 01:01:01] and his elegy to mother earth.
The power of humanity, perhaps most movingly captured by the women and children that Scott forever etched in our minds, in our hearts, but again, frankly, by all of you and the emotion and power that you bring to this dialogue. And the power of disruption and innovation embodied by the committed youth, like Yusuf, who I’m inspired to know will be building a better world for my daughter and all of your children. And for which I would like to recognize the bold commitment of our partners at the World Bank to break from conventional water management practice and investment and to put people in planet at the center of its future water strategy, embracing as core goals inclusion, sustainability, and resilience as guiding principals in a massive portfolio that defines much of water practice globally.
This is a genuine transformation for which the Rockefeller Foundation, and I know partners in the room, The Swedish International Development Agency in the Netherlands, are extraordinarily proud to be committed partners. If I may, I’d like to give the rest of our time back to you and wrap our dialogue with a nod in great recognition to His Holiness, Pope Francis, who noted in his address to a pontifical conference on the Human Right to Water, one month ago, that our water concerns are basic and pressing. Basic, because where there’s water, there is life, making it possible for societies to arise in advance. Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected. Thank you very much.
Dr. Gowing: Thank you, Fred. Thank you, Sara.
What matters, what is possible, and what is ahead?
Dr. Ian Goldin, Oxford University Professor of Globalisation and Development and a Senior Fellow at the Martin School
Dr. Gowing: Is this a renaissance movement of some kind now for the water challenge? Let me introduce Professor Ian Goldin, who is from Oxford University. For 10 years he was the founding director of the extraordinary Martin School, bringing together multiple disciplines within the University of Oxford. Well-funded, he is on sabbatical at the moment but has been a prolific writer, both within the school and also in whatever calls his spare time for the pursuits of development, the butterfly defect. He published two books alone last year, what about whether this is a renaissance moment. A reminder, we will bring other things together as well, including with the concluding music from a great cellist. Ian Goldin, the floor is yours.
Dr. Goldin: Thank you very much, Nik, and thank you to our organizers for inviting me. Let me race through some of the mega trends that will shape our time and just help us as we leave here, think about this extraordinary moment we’re in with a sense of optimism. Of course, it is an optimism that unites us, that has brought down walls around the world over the last 30 years. It’s the optimism of connectivity, which is both the source of the huge potential to deal with this issue but also, of course, the reason why the issue is ever more complex. It’s transformed the world in fundamental ways. It transformed my life. I had thought I would never go back to South Africa in my lifetime, and then became Nelson Mandela’s economic advisor and ran the state regional bank, something that happened because of cascading changes at the other side of the world.
65 countries became Democratic, and in that process we saw how change can transcend national borders, how ideas matter more than anything, and how now war can be high enough to stop them. This process continues, and the pace of change is accelerating, but we learned from Arab Spring, another fundamental lesson which will … of reversals, the shocks, the rollercoaster ride, and surprises. The only certainty is the uncertainty. With that, of course, nothing can be taken for granted. That’s why we need to engage more actively. That’s why sitting back is not an option, because if we do sit back it’ll come off the rails. Because the walls have come down, there are 2 billion people in the world over the last 30 years. Ideas have traveled leading people to live longer, healthier lives in more places.
Simple ideas like, “Smoking kills you.” Very complicated ideas, like those embedded in new vaccines, like those embedded in new water, in clean water. With that, of course, a fundamental new transformation. Ideas not only being physical but virtual as well in their connectivity. We move from a world of only half a billion people sharing ideas to a world of 6 billion today sharing ideas. In this escalation of change … Because ideas are the generator of history, ideas are what change the world, ideas are what destroy the world and build the world. That’s why we need to have better ideas. When I first went to China in 1982 there 78 people doing doctoral degrees. This year there are 350,000. The level of education in an idea generation is different and that’s why today is the slowest day you’ll know for the rest of your lives.
The engines of innovation are being turned down. Creativity is being set alight around the world in new, unprecedented ways. With that, we need to think very deeply about how this will manifest itself. What ways will this new connectivity, where 80% of the world is now connected in various ways, change us. When we look at the long sweep of history the last 2,000 years, we see this extraordinary story. We see population growth never being more rapid and we see income growth more rapid still. Exponential, the right-hand axis. What is population growth [inaudible 01:13:30] to the left, and with that, the most successful story of development the world has ever known. Infant mortality going down, life expectancy going up, and the average life improvements of 20 years around the planet. It took from the Stone Age to the 1970s to achieve that.
The number of people illiterate going down by 70%, despite the world’s population going up by 2 billion. In a world of 5 billion, there were 3 billion illiterate. Today there are less than a billion. And the number of desperately poor people going down by 300 million despite this population growth. We live in a new time, a time unprecedented in history. A time which is different than the time that gives us cause for optimism. It gives us the optimism that we can tackle water and other challenges. We’ve heard from many inspiring people today about how this may be achieved. It’s a time like a time that Rome experienced 500 years ago. Right here is where the Renaissance happened. It fundamentally transformed the way the world was understood. It lead from a round world with dragons on the edge to Mercator’s projection.
It led to a world where the sun revolved around us to us revolving around it, Copernicus and others and, of course, it led to fundamental other revolutions. Driven by new information technologies, then it was the Gutenburg Press, today it’s the Internet and World Wide Web. Before the press only the church monks could read and write in Latin and a very, very small sample, less than 1% of the European population had information, and the church had a very strong power of the knowledge. Suddenly, with this, 250 million books and many billions of political pamphlets were printed in a 50-year period 500 years ago, and that’s why ideas traveled. That’s why the world was shaken up. And that’s what’s happening today. Of course, Florence was the epicenter of this but it ended in tears.
The Bonfire of the Vanities, jihadists, extremists, Savonarola and his disciples taking over Florence and deposing the Medicis, shattering and fragmenting the church. Leading to an attack on intellectuals, new religions being formed and, of course, then the inquisitions and the attack on experts and intellectuals which echo those of today. It was a terrifying time. It was a time when progress was set back and when the sure things that people knew about were questioned. These voyages of discovery in intellectual and in physical terms led to new worlds that were totally unexpected. Of course, we know that they led to the death of most Native Americans, because of the pandemics that were spread. These unintended consequences of change and that’s the subject of this book, “Age of Discovery.”
What do I worry about in our period of change? While the walls have gone down between societies, they’re going up in all societies. Inequality is growing in virtually all countries of the world, and this is because of globalization. When things change more rapidly, people get left behind more quickly and we forget that at our peril. They get angry if they are not part of change. When things connect, not only good things connect, terrible things connect too. The butterfly defect of globalization is contagion, cascading financial crises, and the unintended consequences of good things becoming bad. We all climb the energy curve and we get climate change. We all consumer more water and we run out of water and destroy it. We all take antibiotics, more and more people do, and you get antibiotic resistance.
When individuals making rational decisions connect and they are more effective at connecting and wealthier, their individual actions get overwhelmed, the commons problems become bigger and bigger. Running through the mega-trends, we see life expectancy increasing, we see infant mortality declining, and fertility declining dramatically, and over half the countries in the world are already below replacement level. We see populations stabilizing in all regions of the world except Africa, and world population stabilizing around 10 billion. Medium age is doubling everywhere in the world except Africa over this period of time. We need to remove from our mental maps ideas of population pyramids and put in place these shapes.
This is Italy, where we are today. The elderly overwhelming the young and many details, not least the gender inequities that come from this. This is the proof women are wiser than men. They live longer, although they’re born to live to the same age. They don’t make as many stupid decisions. They don’t smoke as much, they don’t drink as much, they don’t stick as many knives into each other, and they live longer in all countries of the world, but the opposite happening at the bottom, many more boys than girls being born. And that is another dimension of us going forth, the growing gender imbalances.
What countries do with immigration is of vital significance. Over half the children being born in the U.S. today are 1st and 2nd Generation immigrant parents. This was done before Trump. Migration is going to be of fundamental significance to all countries in the world. It always has been. Migrants are exceptional people, migrants shaped our current lives and they will determine our destiny and the sooner we realize that, the better.
The economic prospects of emerging markets are much brighter than those of the advanced economies. They’re growing and will continue to grow at three to five times the rates. That means that they are increasing the engine of change economically around the world. They’re also the stabilizers of growth. They’re accounting for a bigger and bigger share of global growth, and there are more engines of growth. That means average global growth rates will rise and be more stable over this, because the old advanced economies become less and less significant. Many emerging markets rising to the per capita income levels of the old advanced economies and, of course, overtaking them. With that their consumption patterns changing in fundamental ways leading to major questions about where the resources are going to come from. Increasingly an emerging market question.
This is just current emerging markets’s contributions to growth in gray. Here you see the different shades of consumption. Everything in orange and lime is Asia. The dark blue, the U.S., and light blue, Europe. You just see how insignificant the U.S. and Europe are becoming in terms of global consumption shares over the next 30 years or so. This is a story of change. This is a story of where the change is happening and who is changing with the 3-1/2 to 4 billion new middle class consumers around the world, the red being Asia. Is there enough resource? Can the planet do this? I’m going to come back to that in a minute. The technological revolutions are as fundamental as the demographic and economic. What we see in this is, is of course we can’t predict the future. We don’t now what is going to replace the things that we know aren’t cool any more.
Those, obviously, aren’t, one of these devices is replacing all of them, but this is a pretty sure story and that is of [inaudible 01:21:18] law, the doubling of processing speed for about the same price, about every 18 months for the next 20 years. We get a million times the power for the same price and that changes everything. This is from my NanoMedicine Lab, the development of the molecular structure of … This is a needle going through an individual cancer stem cell, releasing a drug into it. This is where my stem cell lab, this is an individual heart cell taken from the lab technician’s skin. The ability to reprocess into any cell group. Of course, now, a really fundamental thing, the ability to genetically engineer, in vitro, in fetus, the way that we are. So, really fundamental questions that we’re not grappling with.
The price of all of this going down exponentially and with that, good and bad things that happen at increasing speed. What we must learn from all crises, not least the banking crisis, is the asymmetry that’s growing. Individuals have an ability to bring down the global financial system, and, increasingly, they will change many other things. We need to move in a world where individuals have more power than many nation states. The idea of cascading risk is not new. We know in England that a single rat coming off a ship might have led to the death of up to half the English population, but what’s new is the speed and scale of change. The Swine Flu starting in Mexico City is in 160 countries in 30 days and we’ve mapped that against airline traffic and shown it exactly replicates it. The super-spreaders of the goods of globalization are also the super-spreaders of the bads.
As we move into the world which is hyper-interconnected, this dependency on each other grows and grows. What our neighbors do, whether they’re here or the other side of the world, matters more and more. In this process, of course, is we have a new nervous system, the fiber optic one, which connects us all instantaneously. Dependency and trust becomes more and more significant. The trust that people won’t empty our bank account or open our front door lock or control our vehicle-to-vehicle communication is growing every day. With that, of course, how these machines will take our jobs. With that, how are we … Our attitudes to technologies change will be of fundamental significance. Our hand-off between man and machine. The interconnectedness of this to the planet and, of course, to ourselves.
The commons issues grow and grow, and unless we are able to develop new attitudes to each other and to nature, this becomes unsustainable. We know that rational … [Crosstalk 01:24:08]. This is the … Can you just turn the volume down? This is the tuna market in Tokyo with this tuna being sold for a million Euro for one tuna. This is the market’s response to the scarcity of a natural resource. The price goes up, of course, the tuna don’t know how much they’re worth, they don’t mate more. We saw, from our astronaut friend, the Aral Sea from above, and this is it from below, now. With climate change we have this dramatically revealed. So, how do we climb the energy curve? How do we ensure that Africa’s not devastated – and this is the IPPC projections of rainfall change in Africa by climate change – how we ensure that agricultural systems of Africa can be resilient is absolutely central to this?
The problem with water is either there’s too much, and many parts of Africa have been devastated by floods as other parts of the world. Or there’s too little, and we know that story dramatically. Or it’s too dirty, and often all of these within in a year or less. How one engages in this other multifaceted story, with climate change, with food and the water and energy nexus, is absolutely a multi-disciplinary complex problem. Now, the existing institutions, with all due respect to my colleagues at the World Bank, I was the head of policy and vice president at the World Bank and responsible for part of the water thing, I believe are only a very small part of the solution.
They are major actors but they’re not scaled to the scale of this challenge, and they’ve not been given the power by their national governments and shareholders to this scale. Small changes in shareholding, in power relationships, rearranging the furniture and I don’t think Trump’s even picking up the sofa. We are like individual actors in cabins on the ship, no captain on Planet Earth. In this challenge, again, we see the success story of globalization. The world can no longer be controlled by 12 white men in the room shaping the world order, and that’s progress. It’s one of the very good things that’s happened. New power shifts are meaning that the old order can no longer run the world, and, of course, in that’s in transition. The best of the institutions, like the IMF, were simply overwhelmed by the complexity of the change. They didn’t understand the scale of systemic integration, there were major governance failings at the national and global level, they didn’t understand the technologies, they didn’t understand the short term [inaudible 01:26:47] couldn’t counter it, and, most crucially, the problem was not too little data, it was too much data and too few values.
Wisdom and values are absolutely central to this, and if you try and understand why people are rebelling against globalization, it’s because they’re being left behind, and feel the system’s values are not theirs. They’re not shared values. They’re values which are leaving people behind, and I would add, leaving the planet behind. This attack on authority, this attack on experts is an attack on a system which didn’t have the right priorities. On a system which failed to see that we are not simply connected but we’re entangled.
This is, of course, the greatest era of Brexit and protectionism. The idea of connectivity implies that you can disconnect, but when you’re entangled you cannot. Our fates are interwoven with each other and there’s no way that what happens in another place does not affect us. We need to understand this complex integrated system, and stop it falling apart. How to be connected, and resilient to this connectivity, is the greatest challenge, and how to embrace this technology while keeping what is essentially human, which is our values and our creativity and our ability to make judgments. If we can do that, we’ve learned from the Renaissance. We’ve learned the lessons that our Renaissance forefathers failed to learn.
In water, this comes together in the most extraordinary ways, because there is this right to water that’s being talked about, and how we manifest that and how we ensure that we are able to add to this renaissance watershed moment that is the title of this conference … are we able to learn how we can each add an individual drop of change to create an ocean of change? That is the challenge we all ask. I’ve taken 18.30 seconds for a 20-minute session, so chair, I give you back a minute and a half and hope we can all rock on to a very happy old age. Thank you.
Dr. Gowing: I’m tempted to ask you which instrument do you hope to be playing that rock band? Thank you very much, indeed. Look, I hope you won’t mind if I say, thank you very much for giving me a minute back, but we’re running so late at the moment that I think there’s a mood at the moment to either have a private conversation with you afterwards or move towards closure, and also listening to Mike Fitzpatrick as well.