We Are Water Foundation


We Are Water Blog

2015 June 2
  • The understanding of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR5) is crucial for achieving the communication objectives pointed out by the experts in Climate Change.
  • The work of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) reveals one of the most serious threats for future access to water.
The keys for understanding and following climate change


Climate change is a fact of which we have increasingly more information. This comes from statistics, increasingly extensive, but also as a result of the advances in scientific research that constantly show more interrelations between variables that were unknown or more confused just ten years ago. The development of this knowledge, fundamental to be able to outline suitable responses to this threat for the balance of the planet, evolves with great speed and urgently requires a parallel development in scientific coordination and, above all, in communication; since communication is the tool that must change the social perception of the problem, a fundamental aspect for advancing in the solution.

This need was clearly shown in the Social Perceptions of Water and Climate workshop that the We Are Water Foundation organised in the setting of World Water Day 2015, in the Roca Barcelona Gallery, in collaboration with the IABM (International Association of Broadcast Meteorology) on the 19th and 20th of March (see the news item). The workshop brought together relevant meteorologists and experts on the current climatic situation, water and meteorological communication.

The presentations of the experts provided several key elements and platforms to understand the figures being weighed up and follow the work of the scientists in obtaining data. They must help in the urgent need of our civilisation to alleviate the phenomena and take the necessary measures to adapt to what is now an unquestionable reality.


The AR5, a document for understanding and action

One of the elements of this Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR5), the fundamental conclusions of which were explained by Dr. Jean Pascale van Ypersele, Vice-President of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (see the video of his intervention or download his presentation).

The AR5 is a fundamental document for understanding the magnitude of the problem and constitutes the basic reference for those responsible for scientific policies and initiatives regarding climate change. It clearly shows how the influence of mankind is evident in global warming and explains the facts that show it concretely, such as the increase in the sea level of 20 cm in the last century, the retreat of the glaciers, the loss of polar ice and the presence of greenhouse effect gases in the atmosphere.

One of the aspects that the report stresses is the special bearing that Climate Change is having and will have on the alteration of the water cycle on a global scale with the increase in hydric stress in extensive areas of the planet as one of the main consequences. It also highlights the increase forecast in extreme meteorological phenomena, such as droughts and floods in many areas, and the increase in food insecurity in areas where this is already a very serious matter.

Nevertheless, the report also points out that we have the possibility to adapt and alleviate the effects of Climate Change. As Van Ypersele stated, "the adaptation to climate change and its alleviation must be complementary, and humanity possesses the means to limit it and create a more sustainable and resistant future", although he warned that "the window for action is rapidly closing”.

The AR5 is the fifth in a series of reports that the IPCC has been publishing since it was founded in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The first report was published in 1990, an additional report in 1992, a Second Report in 1995, a Third Report in 2001 and a Fourth Report in 2007. Its aim is to assess the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information about Climate Change, its potential effects and options for its adaptation and alleviation. The Fifth Report embodies the work of experts in the multiple scientific disciplines involved in the study of the climate and also the users of the information, in particular the representatives of governments and organisations.

A very special and fundamental objective for defining the road map to deal with this threat is to prepare the way for a global and legally binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions in the Conference on Climate Change that the UN will be holding in Paris at the end of 2015.


Concrete consequences

The conclusions of the data that the AR5 produces are endorsed by experts in settings in which the consequences of global warming are patently clear. In a video of the Social Perceptions of Water and Climate workshop, Dr. Maria Neira, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Department of Public Health and the Environment (PHE), warned that the increase in temperature will worsen problems of malnutrition that are already the cause of three million deaths per year in the poorest areas of the Earth and quoted that the estimations of the WHO suggest that climate change will cause 250,000 deaths between 2030 and 2050, considering malnutrition, exposure to heat, malaria and diarrhoea.

In the same workshop, Ernst Rauch, director of Corporate Climate Center of Munich RE, showed the large amount of statistical data that we currently have to assess the social consequences of climate change and emphasised the bearing it has on the increase of natural disasters in the world: "The disasters of meteorological and hydrological origin have increased significantly in the last decades, especially since 1980 and the poorest countries are those that suffer the worst consequences of them".

The importance of communication

Understanding the messages of the AR5 and communicating them is fundamental for achieving the social perception of Climate Change. The mass media play a key basic role here in order to create the necessary level of awareness among the population. The scientific advances must have communication as an intrinsic tool in the development of knowledge. This applies to any discipline and much more so in the question of global warming that seriously threatens the whole planet.

Also in the workshop organised by the Foundation, Michael Williams, director of Communication and Public Affairs of the WMO (World Meteorology Organisation), made clear the importance of the “weathermen” in the media to spread this knowledge in an understandable way, a task that must be taken into account on the road map that the experts are planning for the immediate future.

In the future we will be publishing in this newsletter diverse fundamental aspects of the AR5 report that refer to the bearing that Climate Change has on water and sanitation.


About the We Are Water Foundation

The We Are Water Foundation, promoted by the Roca company, has as objectives, on the one hand, to raise awareness amongst the general public and the administrations about the need to promote a new culture of water and, on the other hand, relieve the negative effects related to the lack of hydric resources, through the development of cooperation and aid programmes alongside diverse organisations such as Education without Frontiers, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Intermón Oxfam and UNICEF.

2015 March 26
  • The We Are Water Foundation organised the international workshop ‘Social Perceptions of Water and Climate’
  • Based on the last report from the IPCC, new communicative challenges on how to pass on their conclusions to the general public were discussed 
Climate change as a communication challenge

Coinciding with the World Climate Day, which is celebrated every 26th March, the We Are Water Foundation shares the conclusions of the workshop Social Perceptions of Water and Climate that took place on the 19th and 20th March at the Roca Barcelona Gallery. This meeting, which gathered renowned meteorologists from around the world, was organised in conjunction with the IABM (International Association of Broadcast Meteorology) and with Tomàs Molina, meteorologist, journalist and member of the IABM in Spain, as the content director. 

Speakers included Dr. Jean Pascale Van Ypersele, Vice-Chair of the IPCC, who dealt with the news on the report AR5 IPCC; Michael Williams, Head of Communication and Public Affairs of the WMO (World Meteorology Organisation), who spoke about how to spread the news on climate change; and Professor Ernst Rauch, Director of the Corporate Climate Centre of Munich-Re, who talked about climate change from the perspective of numbers. Other participants were Xavier Torras, Director of the We Are Water Foundation, Ana Redondo, External Relations Coordinator of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation; and Antoni Pérez, Programme Manager at Save the Children. 

In this regard, the following main conclusions can be highlighted: 

Jean Pascale van Ypersele: conclusions of the report AR5 of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

- The influence of man on the global warming of the planet is clear:

-       Changes in sea water level: an increase of aprox. 20 cm in the last century.  

-       80% of the glaciers are in retreat.

-       Arctic sea ice is in long-term decline.

- More greenhouse gasses mean an increase in temperature and more severe impacts of climate change

- There are opportunities to integrate mitigation, adaptation and other societal objectives:

-       Humanity has the means to limit climate change and build a more sustainable and resilient future.

Ernst Rauch: The perspective of numbers

- Loss events related to climate have increased significantly in the last 30 years.

- Increased financial losses can in part be explained by social or economic factors; however, the signal of climate change is evident in some regions.  

- Low-income countries suffer especially from natural catastrophes (e.g. Vanuatu recently).

- Climate change will not go away. We in our generation have the responsibility to address this.


Michael Williams: Weather broadcasters as communicators of climate change

- Weather broadcasters communicate important information on certain events.

- Many weather presenters interact with experts in climatology in their own countries to help explain the likely evolution to their peoples.

- Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of United Nations, and other major figures believe in the value of using weather presenters to communicate climate change information.


Among the participants of this international workshop were: Mónica López, Director of the Meteorology Department at TVE and presenter of EL TIEMPO (The weather) at the News 2 (La 1-TVE), Gerald Fleming, Forecasting Director at Met Éireann (Ireland); Inge Niedek, weather presenter and Head of the Meteorology Department at ZDF, National Television of Germany; Desislava Banova, weather presenter at Nova and Climate Ambassador in Bulgaria; Yoko Komagata, weather presenter at Japan´s television; Mauricio Saldivar, meteorologist and scientific adviser in Argentina, among many others.   

The different meteorologists worked in closed sessions to share their experiences individually and with an open debate in the second part. The two topics addressed in the afternoon sessions were: “Water in times of trouble” and “Public awareness on climate change”, respectively. 

2015 March 19

The We Are Water Foundation raises awareness on such an important date on the new water culture with actions around the world

More than one in ten world inhabitants does not have access to an improved water source

“Water and sustainable development” is this year´s theme on the World Water Day, which is celebrated every 22 March after being created by the United Nations in 1993. The We Are Water Foundation carries out, on such an important date, different actions to raise awareness in many countries, with the aim of achieving a new water culture. Nowadays, 750 million people live with a major lack of access to clean water and 2500 million people do not have basic sanitation. 

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has declared in his message on World Water Day that “We depend on water for public health and equitable progress, and water is essential for food and energy security, and it supports the performance of industries” and to this regard he has added “To eliminate the various problems related to water, we need to work in a spirit of urgent cooperation, with an open mind to new ideas and innovation, and being able to share the solutions that we all need for a sustainable future”.    

Water resources play a key role in the reduction of poverty, in economic growth and also in the sustainability of the environment. Xavier Torras, Director of the We Are Water Foundation, has declared: “It is our responsibility to improve such a complicated situation and through cooperation it is possible to turn the figures around”. 

For all these reasons, the We Are Water Foundation has organised the Workshop Social Perceptions of Water and Climate, at the Roca Barcelona Gallery, with meteorologists from around the world gathering to discuss the difficulties encountered to communicate the climate change in their own countries, as well as to search for joint solutions. Organised in two days, with talks in the morning and discussion sessions in the afternoon, it has highlighted the importance of water in many areas and how sustainable development and climate change affect areas as diverse as displaced persons, economic activities such as agriculture or the management of water resources in cities. 

Among all the activities carried out by the We Are Water Foundation these days we highlight the roundtable celebrated on Tuesday 17 March at the Roca Madrid Gallery under the name “Water and Sustainable Development”. Also, under the slogan “With you, a fair distribution of water is possible”, a wall painting has been installed in different parts of the world representing a world map with grey dots that need to be filled with water drops. The aim is to cover the surface of the planet to defend the right to water which is still unattainable for millions of people. 

In Spain this action will take place simultaneously at the Roca Madrid Gallery, at the Corte Inglés Princesa department store in Madrid, at the Roca Barcelona Gallery and at the Portal de la Pau in Barcelona, beside the set of the Barcelona World Race. 

2015 March 18
  • The solid multidisciplinary formation of the skippers makes a two crew round-the-world trip like the Barcelona World Race possible.
  • Climatology, meteorology, medicine and engineering are essential in single-handed and two-crew sailing.
  • Organisation aboard an IMOCA 60 shows an analogy with the projects of the We Are Water Foundation which takes water and sanitation to deprived areas with the aim of sustainability.
Sustainability is education

Just before and shortly after turning the mythical Cape Horn, the We Are Water crossed the meridians of the projects of Nicaragua, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. In these as in all the Foundation’s projects, training is essential to achieve their sustainability. The beneficiaries, who in many cases participate directly in the work, are later those who must ensure the management and maintenance of the installations or work programmes. This means that the entire project must be accompanied by a long-term educational programme which is essential for guaranteeing its sustainability. Training, understood as the result of a long-term educational programme, is also the starting point of the programmes that have a direct bearing on hygiene and healthiness, and on the recovery of the water cycle in areas punished by erosion or unsuitable agricultural and livestock breeding methods.

Without training there is no efficient management, and without efficient management there is no sustainability and the results of aid cannot last in time. This principle can be applied to ocean sailing that has interesting analogies with the development of training in the projects.

Theoretical and practical multidisciplinary training

An ocean yachtsman who sets off on a regatta alone or two-crew must possess a very high level of knowledge to handle efficiently the complex "smart city" that an IMOCA 60 such as the We Are Water is, completing the round-the-world trip and finishing the Barcelona World Race. It is a metaphor applicable to the philosophy of the Foundation’s aid projects.

In fact, Bruno and Willy García have extensive theoretical and practical training in a wide range of disciplines and techniques. This know-how enables them to manage any activity themselves related to sailing and survival, and makes them self-sufficient except for food which is the only thing that, in a sporting contest, must be provided from the outside.

Firstly, they must have an in-depth knowledge of meteorology. The knowledge of this science in constant evolution is the basis of not only sporting success in the regatta but also their own safety. Planning a round-the-world sailing trip is firstly climatic: the team must forecast what general conditions it is going to experience throughout the route and prepare the factors that depend on them. Any planning of the activities on board depends on the weather forecast: the frequency of manoeuvres, the order of stowage of the sails, energy consumption, guard standbys, clothing and food.

Later, when sailing, meteorology becomes a central question of life on board. Yachtsmen must have, firstly, deep theoretical knowledge that enables them to understand and forecast the evolution of the meteorological systems that they encounter along the way; but later they must act in consequence, appropriately interpreting the signs of the sophisticated computer programmes that make up the meteorological data with the specifications of speed of their boat. This means knowing how to handle the communication systems via satellite, the navigational software and electronics on board.

If the electronics cannot fail – and the circuits and connections have many adverse factors in a constantly humid atmosphere, as well as being threatened by saltpetre – neither can the electricity. In their sailing routine, Bruno and Willy check the state of the batteries every day and test how consumption and charging is going. This is when the forecast for the charge from the hydro-generators comes into play, the source of clean energy that all the boats in the Barcelona World Race have and which enables them to do without the engine-alternator to the maximum.

The yachtsmen of the Barcelona World Race also have to be able to repair the majority of the breakdowns that continually occur when sailing. This means they must know about electricity, mechanics and chemistry. The must be capable of repairing a water purifier (see the newsletter), or an alternator, as well as stick a torn sail or laminate with polyester resin an imperfection in the hull.

They must also have a good knowledge of medicine, know how to act quickly in case of a personal accident on board and diagnose an illness. These actions on the We Are Water are ensured by Bruno García, cardiologist by profession, but for the other skippers this knowledge is essential, as well as knowing how to establish a tele-medical consultation and use the Medicine at Distance Guide they have on board.

In contrast to the regattas with crew, which is made up of a team of specialists, in single-handed or two-crew sailing a high level of multidisciplinary training is essential, so that each yachtsman must literally “know how to do everything and do it well”.

Bruno and Willy show us each day on the We Are Water that their model is applicable to any project however complex the application of the solutions may be. With education and training wells can emerge from the desert, woods be regenerated and water collected in time for the dry season. They can avoid illnesses, empower women and slow down undignified migratory processes. The training that makes Bruno and Willy free to sail around the world also makes free and dignified those who need water and sanitation.

Remember that you can follow the Argo buoy that Bruno and Willy García launched at the We Are Water buoy page.

The We Are Water has left behind the southern latitudes and is sailing in the Atlantic. In fourth place, Bruno and Willy are about 3,800 miles from the finishing line. The message is still going around the world (go to the meridians page).

About the We Are Water Foundation

The We Are Water Foundation, promoted by the Roca company, has as objectives, on the one hand, to raise awareness amongst the general public and the administrations about the need to promote a new culture of water and, on the other hand, relieve the negative effects related to the lack of hydric resources, through the development of cooperation and aid programmes alongside diverse organisations such as Education without Frontiers, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Intermón Oxfam and UNICEF.

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