The unstoppable exponential growth of cities will turn us into an eminently urban species in a few decades. For life on Earth to be sustainable cities also need to be so, and this will not be possible without the smart technologies integrated in circular economy. Their implementation is a great challenge for poor economies, which are most overwhelmed by urban growth and are not able to supply water and sanitation. This needs to be an international responsibility because what happens in these cities will be decisive for life on Earth.
Water News and Reports
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 many of the poorest areas of the world the usage rate of mobile telephones is higher than the water access rate. Various emerging projects offer simple and sustainable technological tools based on the GSM which adapt to the basic needs of areas with hydric stress. These are real ICTs in which people replace sensors and become operating agents in places where there are none.
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.
We need to start thinking more about how we interact with water instead of how we control it. The most developed countries are designing an intelligent water network that is able to control the supply problems and prevent natural disasters. But the solution based on a model that is exclusively technological is not the right one and it can increase the already existing barriers for those who do not even have water.
Water is not affordable for everyone and it should be. It is a human right that many poor people (in the economic sense) do not have. It is difficult to believe that in our neighbourhood there might be water cut-offs; but they do exist, although sometimes they are invisible.
Can we imagine a sustainable world with the urban planning and architecture we have developed until now? The crisis of water and sanitation leads us to believe we cannot, and this is causing a radical change in the way we conceive, build and plan the houses and cities we live in. The new architecture rises as a discipline of hope.
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