Smart Reaction: the opportunity is here and now
Architecture and the building and tourism industries are key elements for the attainment of the SDGs. They must be a fundamental part of the model that will lead us to attain them and their international influence in the generation of social awareness is decisive. The “Smart Water Smart Reaction” debate showed there are plenty of ideas and initiatives in Mexico, Peru and Spain. The pandemic has strengthened the connecting thread of water as source of inspiration to overcome the global challenge we face and to appreciate the opportunities that appear before us.
The architect Susel Biondi explained the situation in Peru, one of the countries that, along with Mexico, has a notable disparity in access to water and is especially threatened by the climate crisis. She highlighted one of the factors that has become more decisive when developing solutions: the ancient culture of communities. Peru is a well of pre-Inca and Inca water wisdom and this culture is a powerful tool for education and awareness: “Water management has always been deeply rooted in the Peruvian popular culture. Water is related to the ‘yacumama’, which means ‘mother of water’ in Quechua, and ancestors have left us works we must take as reference: lagoons, reservoirs, water systems and many infrastructures that provide us a guide for action.”
The architect mentioned the amunas, infrastructures that allow the collection of water obtained from the runoff of rain in the heights of the mountains, which could be similar to a “water sowing and harvesting” system, a model that shows a philosophy of respect and observation of nature that can be transferred to many areas that suffer hydric stress and where climate change is already adding pressure.
Architects and building companies agree on the importance of erecting buildings with “zero discharge” of water that are also autonomous in terms of energy, but also consider that an immediate governmental reaction is essential to prevent the crisis. All participants agreed that governance should speed up progress in the definition and dissemination of the international norms related to sustainability in the construction industry. And they all agreed that the education and awareness of citizens are essential factors for the real attainment of change and the design of solutions. David Cámara summarized the spirit of the meeting, embodied by the Smart Reaction initiative: “We are all aboard the same boat and we all need to row in the same direction. We are a fragile society, the pandemic has shown us that we are more fragile than we thought we were. The solution must be collective and the guiding thread of water, which has been strengthened, will show us the way.”