The latest violent meteorological phenomena experienced in the western Mediterranean area force a review of the factors that define the risk of people and goods. The intensification of exposure and vulnerability is an anthropogenic factor that must be controlled in the face of the foreseeable increase in storms that science is pointing out. Beyond the fight to mitigate the effects of climate change, we have to renew our efforts to adapt to a reality that is here to stay.
The catastrophe of the large Murcian lagoon has the components to unleash a perfect environmental storm. Poor management of the land, water irresponsibility and inefficient governance, disconnected from scientific reality are elements of a full manual of bad practices to be avoided.
In the progress towards global sustainability, the access to water and sanitation plays a double role: it is at the same time a tool and a goal of the solutions. From agriculture to the domestic supply, it provides essential information to attain SDG 6. To achieve it, governments and companies need to take into account the enormous existing asymmetries and ensure that no one is left behind.
Water will always be there, but not water security. It is a more enveloping concept that allows experts to better communicate the complexity of the urban water cycle to citizens, making them participate in its management model, in its benefits and risks. Well informed users enable the creation of a context with a participatory and transparent governance in which we all feel involved. Water security goes beyond the simple access to water and implies constant work.
Most of the water we use is not included in the water bill, it is hidden in every object or in food, in our trips and in our work. It is not the water that flows in the shower or out of the faucet in the bath or the kitchen, it is the water used in the supply chain of goods and services. The water footprint provides this information and informs us that we are trading with water without even realizing it. We therefore contribute to the “transfer” of millions of liters between countries and continents. It is a key factor in the equation of the planet’s sustainability.
Will the current growth model allow a fair access to water and sanitation in Latin America? The sociologist José Esteban Castro presented the conclusions of his decades of work on the water issues in disadvantaged areas of the world in the last talk of the series “Water and metropolis”, organized by the We Are Water Foundation and Casa Amèrica Catalunya.
In 2015, the severe water crisis in São Paulo showed the imbalance in the access to water in most large cities in Brazil and changed the way water is managed in a country with over 12% of the reserves of the planet. The expert Marussia Whately explained this in the series of conferences “Water and metropolis”organised by the We Are Water Foundation and Casa Amèrica Catalunya. Brazil reacts and the planet heavily depends on it.
The assimilation of water as a social good should not lead us to forget that an investment in infrastructures and technology is needed in order to guarantee the supply, quality and environmental balance. The strained debate about a public or private management model tends to overshadow the real problems of the integral water cycle. Beyond municipalisation or licensing, we need to achieve an efficient management that ensures the water security both locally and globally.
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