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So what?/introduction Welcome from The Global Sustainability Institute This issue of So What? focuses on water. Water might seem boring: it has no taste, colour or smell. But it is the basis of life on earth and central to the future of human development. Critically, the availability of fresh water is one of the main problems facing us in the 21st century. Whether the challenge is not enough water in the long term, or too much water all at once, water crops up again and again in the GSI’s research.
Global Sustain ability Institute So what? SO WHAT? MAGAZINE is published twice a year by the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. It aims to highlight the University’s activities related to sustainability in research, education and estates. Your contributions welcomed If you have an article, feature or news item that you would like to contribute to a future edition of SO WHAT? please contact email@example.com. People involved Editor: Julie-Anne Hogbin Sub-editing and design: Charlotte Sankey and Rachel Helen Smith, Creative Warehouse Printed on 100% recycled paper.
about the GSI The Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) was established by Anglia Ruskin University in 2011 as part of our commitment to sustainability. It is a University-wide body which spans a broad portfolio of areas and interests related to sustainability.
HOW DO WE DEFINE SUSTAINABILITY? We use the following definition of sustainability at the GSI: “Sustainability envisages a just society of innovation, opportunity and wellbeing which manages the full diversity of environmental risks.”
We recognise that delivering sustainability requires an integrated view of the world and, above all, see our main role as helping develop practical solutions. We work to collate information needed to make decisions and present it to the people capable of implementing action. This involves developing partnerships across academic disciplines within our University and beyond, and with leaders in business and government.
WHAT AREAS OF RESEARCH DO WE SPECIALISE IN? Our research is focused around personal motivations and systems change set against the challenges of sustainability.
WHO DO WE WORK WITH? To help deliver our research themes the GSI works in partnership with a number of organisations from the public and private sector – such as the UK Cabinet Office, the EU commission and the Sunday Times’ best green company of 2011, Skanska. The GSI is also a partner in a number of international networks including: • Green Economy Coalition • Renewable Energy and International Law (REIL) • Capital Markets Climate Initiative (CMCI) • Cambridge Cleantech Consortium
Our core research questions are how does the system influence the individual, and how does the individual influence the system? By ‘system’ we mean the political, financial, industrial and social frameworks that lock us into unsustainable futures – futures characterised by environmental challenges such as climate change, growing scarcity of natural resources and social challenges such as global inequality and social unrest. We have four key areas of research: • Climate action & cultural systems • Behaviour, consumption & wellbeing • Resource management & ecosystems services • Education for sustainability
So what?/opinion Fracking thirsty? the energy/water nexus By Dr Aled Jones and Ella Wiles, GSI
‘Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.’ Samuel Coleridge Water is a vital resource upon which our species depends. From drinking fountains to swimming pools, societies have long been able to provide the infrastructure to transport and manage water. The Romans built aqueducts, the Dutch built dykes, the UK drained fenland and China has built dams.
If gas fracking is to go ahead in the UK then the increase in water risk cannot be ignored
In some areas of the world, economic development is now putting increasing pressure on our water resources, particularly when linked with population growth and ageing infrastructure. Parts of the UK already face over abstraction and water stress, where the amount of water available becomes unreliable. With changing weather patterns – including wetter winters, drier summers and more droughts – this is only likely to get worse. Water is also part of the current debate about future energy security. Hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is the latest activity to hit the headlines. Fracking is a way of unlocking natural gas from shale rock deep underground, using water and chemicals under pressure to ‘fracture’ the rock and release the gas. The UK Government has said that this will help keep domestic energy bills down and will reduce the UK’s reliance on foreign energy, however, both claims are disputed. Furthermore, investment into fracking infrastructure locks us into an energy generation future characterised by greenhouse gas emissions. The impact on water could also be a concern. Estimates indicate that a shale gas site could create an annual demand for water equivalent to over 100 Olympic size swimming pools, as well as potentially contaminating ground water reservoirs if it is not properly managed. The US has led the development and deployment of fracking technologies for a number of decades. Due to technological advancements and rising global energy prices making expensive sources such as fracking economically viable, the sector has expanded dramatically over the last few years. However, a recent report by Ceres, a leading US not-for-profit organisation, noted that 47% of the
25,000 shale oil and gas wells they studied were in areas of “high or extremely high water stress”. While the total water usage on gas fracking sites accounts for a mere fraction of total water use across the globe, in certain regions where water is scarce even a small increase in usage may stress the ability of natural systems to function. Additionally, if an accident led to groundwater pollution, this could cause significant disruption to local availability. Considering the potential for fracking to impact on water resources it is strange to discover that under the Bush administration the Environmental Protection Agency lost their ability to regulate water contamination from fracking sites. If gas fracking is to go ahead in the UK then the increase in water risk cannot be ignored. Bodies representing the UK water companies have already raised their concerns about the likely impact of shale gas fracking, in terms of endangering both the quality and the supply of groundwater. A key argument used in favour of gas fracking is the low(er) possible cost of energy bills. But if the full water costs were paid for by the gas extraction companies – along with the costs to the climate and ecosystem and the large tax incentives – the economic viability of fracking may be less clear. Should we pay more for our water to keep our energy bills artificially low? Should we pay more for our food to keep our water bills down? Should we pay more for our energy to keep our food bills down? Global population and economic development trends mean we need to have these types of trade-off discussions. We cannot expect gas fracking companies to give us cheap energy, water utilities to give us cheap water and farmers to give us cheap food. Unless, that is, we expect the government to subsidise them all and are therefore willing to pay higher taxes. When managing water, and other resource issues, we must use a systems mindset. Otherwise it will be, ‘Water water every where, nor any drop to drink… or to frack, grow food, wash away our sewage, grow biofuels, generate electricity, fish farm, operate heating systems …’ 3
So what?/news Anglia Ruskin braves the smog to receive International Sustainability Award Anglia Ruskin has received an award for Excellence in Integrating Sustainability. This is in recognition of our university’s work to ensure that sustainability is a feature of all our students’ experience. The award was presented to Dr Alison Greig (GSI) and Sarah Johnson (Estates and Facilities) at the International Sustainable Campus Network’s (ISCN) annual conference. It is only the second time that a UK University has won an ISCN award. Dr Alison Greig, Director of Education for Sustainability, gave a presentation to the conference outlining how Anglia Ruskin has placed sustainability at the core of its corporate vision. Alison was able to demonstrate how, as well as carrying out internationally recognised research in sustainability and striving to exceed benchmarks for the sustainability of buildings and processes, the university is embedding sustainability across the curriculum and co-curriculum.
The new Anglia Ruskin MSc Sustainability was given a special mention by the judges. It is delivered in partnership with the Eden Project and Change Agents UK and has also just been shortlisted for an EAUC (Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges ) Green Gown Award. Singapore smog This year’s ISCN’s conference was hosted by the National University of Singapore, who are rising to the challenge of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions during a period of rapid growth. The complexities of achieving sustainable growth were experienced first hand by the delegates, as the conference coincided with record levels of air pollution.
Record air pollution reached life threatening levels this summer in Singapore
than 2.5 microns which can penetrate deep into the lungs) drifts north-east into Singapore and Malaysia.
This year the wind strength and direction, and the scale of Each year landowners take burning (possibly encouraged advantage of the south-westerly by a new Indian market for ‘dry monsoon’ winds to set palm oil) produced a ‘Perfect fire to the tropical rainforest in Storm’ for air pollution Sumatra and clear the trees in Singapore. During the in preparation for oil palm conference the air pollution plantations. The smoke, which index rose from 100 (harmful) contains fine particles known as to a record breaking 401 PM2.5 (particulate matter less (potentially life threatening).
FILM REVIEW: THE EXTREMES OF SELF-JUSTIFICATION
The Act of Killing Documentary, 2013 JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER The psychology of the terrible act of taking someone’s life is bravely explored in Joshua Oppenheimer’s critically acclaimed film The Act of Killing. In this gripping documentary, Indonesian death squad leaders who took thousands of lives during the anti-communist genocide in the 1960s re-enact their mass-killings – bizarrely in the style of their best-loved movie genres, including classic
Outdoor events and activities were cancelled and the government warned people to stay indoors, whilst street traders did a brisk trade in surgical masks. Investigations into which companies were responsible for burning the forest found that at least three had offices in Singapore. It was a reminder to conference delegates that in addressing sustainability we need to look beyond simple cause and effect.
westerns and extravagant musical numbers. The process of making the film allowed Oppenheimer to uncover the truth about these atrocities. He also gained deep insights into human nature and our ability to justify to ourselves the most horrible of deeds. In far more every-day scenarios, the GSI is also interested in the power of self-justifications – in the context of unsustainable behaviour. Julie-Anne Hogbin, GSI
So what?/news GSI wins funding for urban water efficiency The GSI has been awarded £175,000 to work on a three-year EU funded project: WE@EU, ‘Water Efficiency in European Urban Areas’. It brings together partners strongly involved in and committed to water efficiency in five key areas: East of England in the UK, Aragón in Spain, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in France, Eastern Galilee in Israel and Malta. WE@EU will create an open European platform for excellence in water efficiency in urban water management. With the different project partners it will coordinate European Research, Development and Innovation in the urban-applied water efficiency market of products and services through high-level transnational cooperation. Through WE@EU, we want to influence regional and national governments, and the EU, to enable each region in the project consortium to continue innovating in areas in which they have a competitive advantage.
next 20 years due to significant changes in rainfall patterns and a steadily increasing population. There will be growing demand for innovative water solutions over the coming years as the demand for water continues to rise, ageing water infrastructure needs replacing, energy-intensive water treatment applications are adapted or replaced so they consume less energy and as new sources of fresh water are identified and utilised. Water utility companies will also have to mitigate against climate change as they are compounded by problems caused by erratic weather patterns caused by climate change leading to periods of severe flood and drought, as well as rising sea levels. Water shortages could lead water companies to pump more water from rivers into reservoirs which could increase the energy and carbon intensity of water supplies.
The East of England has a number of high-tech clusters and specialist water innovation companies, and it is hoped Water management is becoming a major issue in cities that further funding will be generated for the ideas due to the increasing pressure developed and showcased by as a result of population growth, urbanisation, increased the project. consumption and water culture, The funding will create two pollution, overexploitation, new positions in the GSI to water scarcity, and the effects work closely with Dr Candice of climate change. Howarth who will be leading the GSI’s contribution to the project The East of England receives with support from Dr Aled two-thirds of the average Jones and in close partnership annual rainfall for England with Opportunity Peterborough. and Wales. It is the second most ‘water stressed’ region in Europe, behind South-East For further details<<< Spain, and is likely to face please contact candice. severe water shortages over the firstname.lastname@example.org
news in brief///////// //////
The IPCC 5th Assessment Report, assessing the scientific literature on the physical science basis of climate change was published 27 September 2013. The report re-affirms conclusions that the Earth’s climate is warming as a result of human activities. For more information see www.climatechange2013.org
Devastating drought and the mismanagement of water resources are increasingly being sighted as major causes of the war in Syria. Severely short food supplies and mass migration from failed farms into cities stokes the flames of unrest in this fragile country.
On 23 October 2013, 5.30-7pm, the GSI will host a talk entitled ‘Uncomfortable conversations... why discussing the big issues is so hard?’ as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. We will explore why we avoid talking about topics like climate change. www.cam. ac.uk/festival-of-ideas/events-and-booking
gsi seminar series 2013 Tuesday 22 OCTOBER, 1-2PM, chelmsford campus, MAB 101 Jeremy Baskin, Melbourne Business School / University of Cambridge’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL), ‘Geoengineering and the end of nature’.
Friday 8 November, 1-2PM, cambridge campus, LAB 005 Professor Chris Rapley CBE, University College London, ‘Goings on in the engine room: How the hidden layer of our mind connects with the future of the planet’.
Tuesday 19 November, 1-2PM, cambridge campus, LAB 216 Paul Ingram, British American Security Information Council (BASIC), ‘Nuclear Weapons and the Global Sustainability Agenda: time to abandon traditional forms of sovereignty?’.
Monday 2 December, 1-2pm Cambridge Campus, LAB 005 Chris Foulds, Global Sustainability Institute,‘Questioning energy saving magic bullets: the Passivhaus building standard’.
Monday 16 December, 1-2PM, cambridge campus, LAB 005 Dr Tristram Riley-Smith, Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies / Research Councils’ Global Uncertainties (GU) Programme, ‘Resilience and Sustainability: the part that scholarship can play in enhancing global security and stability’. 5
? r t e a t h a Wow S
Visiting Professor Victor Anderson, introduces the economic challenges that are caused by stressed water supplies – and outlines why this edition is all about water
Things like water, air, and soil, are the basics of life. They are not just optional extras. Indeed the term ‘environment’ really just does not convey what sustainability is all about. ‘The environment’ sounds like something you see out of the window, and maybe walk in when you have a day off. But it is actually the foundation of all our lives and livelihoods. Although many economists have treated the environment as something not very important to their analyses, the fact is the physical environment is what all economies are based on. In more and more countries water supplies are threatened, posing problems for world populations. So What are the main economic issues? Not enough water The limits which matter currently are not about the global total, but about regional, local, and often seasonal limitations on water supply. Despite most of our planet being covered in water, the amount we can actually use is relatively small (see page 10), and it is often locally limited. It has been estimated that at least 2.7 billion people, mostly in Asia, live in river basins that experience severe water scarcity for at least one month each year. Worryingly, climate change is making matters worse, contributing to droughts as well as flooding. Today, the economics of water is largely about increasing competition between uses – water is used for mining, agriculture, and now fracking, as well as for domestic consumption. Some economists have argued for much greater application of ‘the price mechanism’ in the allocation of water. This is the idea of giving water a price so that it can be bought and sold in the market. This way, like other resources, water would 6
become more expensive when it becomes scarce. But unless there is a major redistribution of income and wealth beforehand, what that would amount to in practice is richer people and larger companies getting more of the water, and the poor getting less. That possibility has led some people to advocate the idea that access to water should be declared a human right, which should be put into legislation, with a world commitment made to include it amongst the new set of Development Goals the United Nations is scheduled to adopt in 2015. Holding back growth? Another key issue for the economics of water is whether limits to water availability might act as a limit on economic growth. It has been argued that China’s rapid rate of economic growth will be brought to a halt by water shortages, especially in the north of the country. Here in the UK, some government house building targets have been challenged on the basis that there simply is not enough water to support the local growth in population which those new houses would require. Moreover water is essential in most energy generation, food production, and manufacturing processes. A limited water supply could limit growth in all of those activities. And we should not forget ‘embedded water’ – water used in the process of producing the products we consume. This article has touched on some questions about the economics of water. At the Global Sustainability Institute we take an interdisciplinary approach, adding economic and other perspectives to what at first sight looks like simply a scientific issue about a very familiar chemical substance.
‘Cambridge won’t have enough water in 2035’ proposer
DR Bob Evans
In the mid-1990s I heard someone from the Environment Agency say there would be enough water for the expansion of Cambridge until early in the 21st Century. That was before anyone had planned the massive development of Cambridge that is now taking place. About 97% of Cambridge’s water is drawn from the finite chalk aquifer south of Cambridge and near Thetford.
Cambridge is growing, with its population increasing at one of the highest rates in the UK. Increased demand for water will put pressure on water availability in what is already one of the driest parts of the South East. Water companies plan to ensure that sufficient water supplies are maintained over the long term by producing five-yearly management plans for the next 25 years. These take into consideration increasing demands, the changing climate, environmental needs and all available options.
Visiting Fellow Global Sustainability Institute
Using published information on water use and population increase we can estimate the amount of water needed up to 2031. Only if we all use less water and all new buildings are constructed to the highest standards will there be enough water. On present trends that seems unlikely.
Environmental Manager Cambridge Water
At the end of every winter since 1996 I have monitored a chalk stream marked on Ordnance Survey maps as a permanent stream. At the top end of the valley there is a borehole to abstract water. In only one year was the stream flowing. It was not even flowing this year, after a very wet winter. The environment is already being damaged by abstraction. Continuous development of Cambridge therefore isn’t sustainable.
Despite supplying water to an additional 40,000 customers over the last 25 years, Cambridge Water has not significantly increased the amount of water that we abstract. This shows that demand management and metering are effective in safeguarding supplies. Continuing to find the most sustainable solutions, to manage demands and to make the best use of available water is fundamental. This can be achieved through innovation, behavioural change and by water companies working with stakeholders at a catchment scale to protect future supplies. Paying for what we use, water efficiency and recycling all play an equal part in managing the supply and demand of water.
Stephen P. Tomkins
If you kill the Cam as a living river you kill Cambridge. Historically, the flow of the river Cam was less erratic than it is now. The Cam’s three major tributaries once had dozens of functioning industrial watermills positioned on trout streams. This is no longer the case and the main cause is the tyranny of excessive ground-water abstraction. We cannot blame climate change for this loss of water flow, for despite Cambridgeshire having very low rainfall there is no evidence of any mean rainfall reduction. Over abstraction is the problem.
It is true that the city of Cambridge faces some of the most significant long term challenges when it comes to water. In the heart of the driest region in England, it has some of the highest levels of growth and it is surrounded by some of our most important rivers and wetlands.
Member Cam Valley Forum
Data on today’s river flows are available from the Environment Agency (EA). Given the known rainfall, we find that the flow is well below the prediction for the Cam Valley’s tributary catchment. Do the EA and water companies know this? They do indeed. Chalk spring water sources in ‘conservation sites’ are still drying up. The EA has been supplementing some flows for decades with bore-hole sourced additions. I believe the aim is to give an illusion of normality. The added flow is woefully inadequate to maintain streams and these pumped additions are already included in these reduced stream flow measurements.
Strategic Environmental Planning Manager, Environment Agency
When we look at recent progress there is reason to be reassured. In the last 20 years we have moved from a situation where supplies in parts of the country were failing, where water use was rising and predicted to continue rising. We can now be proud of the fact that water supplies stood up to recent droughts, the environment was not adversely affected, water use is coming down and leakage has reduced beyond recognition. That is not to say we do not face serious challenges. We do, but with Water Resource Management Plans we have a world class approach to ensuring there is enough water for people, business and the environment. Action will be needed, but we are now able to plan to ensure there is enough water for Cambridge in the future.
What do you think? cast your vote online at www.anglia.ac.uk/gsisurvey 7
So what?/gsi global
WAter wisdom Traditional attitudes could hold the answer to solving bloody water wars, as well as to being more sustainable, says GSI’s Joab Omondi, a member of one of kenya’s pastoral tribes
As a young boy growing up in a remote village in Kenya getting water took the better part of my life. I would wake up before six in the morning to walk almost four kilometres to get water before quickly running to school each day, it would be the same journey after school.
In 2012, 52 people were killed in a conflict over resources in the Tana Delta, one of the major water catchment areas in kenya
Water was such a rare and precious commodity that when drinking from a small calabash (like a glass of water) one would have to take care you “don’t overdrink”. According to the strict traditional guidelines over water in my tribe I would always have to check if there was someone to share with. Such scarcity means that wars fought over water are all too common in Kenya. I know from personal experience they are increasing in number and severity. In August 2012, for example. 52 people were killed in a conflict in the Tana Delta, one of the major water catchment areas in Kenya. This included 11 children and 31 women. The attack occurred after cattle owned by the Orma ethnic group (pastoralists) strayed onto farmlands belonging to the neighbouring Pokomo community (agriculturalists) and destroyed their crops. Both communities have a long history of conflict over resources – especially water – given their differing economic pursuits. Again in September 2012, 38 people were killed in revenge attacks in the Tana River Delta district. The
deceased included eight children, five women, 16 men, and nine police officers. The Kenyan media reported that this was a retaliatory attack for the deaths of 13 Pokomos at the hands of raiders from the Orma community. As nomadic pastoralists the Orma move from place to place in search of pasture and water for their livestock, – their primary source of livelihood. But this way of life is triggering conflict with other communities as water resources get scarcer by the day. One reason ‘water wars’ are so common in Kenya is that resources have, with time, moved from being communally owned to being privately owned. In the absence of an effective arm of government that can deal with these conflicts as they start, especially in remote parts, the weakening of communal ownership has increased conflict. Tribal wisdom In the past, traditional cultures had ways to solve intra- and inter-tribal conflicts such as these. Rather than focusing on economics, these cultures empowered traditional authorities to address day to day challenges for the good of the greater society. These traditional authorities also provided platforms from which conflicts over resources could be dealt with harmoniously, without resorting to war. In my tribe for example, inter-tribal marriages were often a cause of peace. Now different ethnic communities come into conflict to defend what they perceive as ‘their’ resources, often as they have no
So what?/gsi global
alternative sources of income. The government of Kenya has been accused of fuelling some of these conflicts. The new government aims to stimulate economic growth and bring about self-sufficiency in food production through irrigation. But this has been viewed with suspicion by the pastoralist communities who feel alienated, ignored and disfavoured. The government has often failed to offer viable alternatives to tribes displaced from their lands by irrigation projects. Prolonged periods of drought have also fuelled these water wars. There is one single cause that is the most important root of these water wars: the rise in human population and the resulting rise in demand for water, coupled with the unsustainable use of resources causing deforestation of water catchment areas, for example. The surge in water use creates tension between communities living in the upstream and downstream parts of water catchment areas. Less water, fewer tourists Sadly, for Kenya, scarcity of water has presented a double tragedy on top of the human loss: the loss of income from the lucrative tourism industry. Tourism is eroded when communities lose grip of traditional cultures that governed the use of natural resources. Repeated droughts and declining woodland cover results in declining habitats and wildlife numbers. In my own tribe, for example, it was a taboo and almost unheard of to cut a tree up in the mountains (which are now scientifically known
In my tribe it was a taboo to cut down a tree up in the mountains, which are now scientifically known to be important water towers
to be important water towers). These days wanton cutting of trees for charcoal (fuel) production compounds the problems of water scarcity. As droughts become more frequent and worsen water shortages, Kenya like many other developing economies will continue to witness an increase in water-related conflicts. Water scarcity will continue to fuel these deadly inter-ethnic wars and continue to claim many more lives unless something is done urgently to deal with the problems. Solutions? So far, interventions by the government have been ineffective and unsustainable and failed to address the root causes of water wars. What we need is strategies that include a deeper understanding of how traditional knowledge systems of resource sharing, rights of utilisation and conflict resolution can be integrated with modern approaches, plus a clear strategy to educate communities on how to conserve our valuable but scarce resources. In November 2012, the Kenya government introduced a land use plan framework to help guide decision making on the Tana River delta â€“ the area which has seen some of the most violent conflicts. The plan was developed to respond to the increase in conflict, population growth increasing competition for water, and human encroachment into fragile ecosystems. It however remains to be seen if this new framework will stem the tide of violent conflicts over water in Kenya. 9
Water wars Water could soon cause international conflict. DR Irene Monasterolo and Davide Natalini of the Global Sustainability Institute examine the warning signs Localised competition over water sources has been common in human history. But in our world of fast paced human development, with increasing competition for water resources, there is a growing threat of international conflict over access to water. Despite 71% of the Earth’s surface being covered in water, only 3% of this amount is freshwater and therefore suitable for human use. Yet, the majority of this freshwater is not accessible as it may be frozen in ice caps or trapped underground. For that reason, only a tiny 0.007% of the water on Earth can actually be used by humans. Big reserves of freshwater are located in North and South America, and at China’s borders. However, political and natural forces mean that access to freshwater can be unequal at the regional level. 11% of the world’s population still lack access to safe sources of drinking water. They are mostly vulnerable people in poor rural areas of developing and low-income countries. Rising tensions As the global population increases so does the demand for water. Freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the last 50 years. As there is only a fixed amount of water on the planet, increasing demand means increasing competition between domestic, industrial and agricultural uses. This intensifies tensions in areas that are already experiencing water shortages. Access to freshwater is already fuelling regional conflicts: experts claim that the long-lasting civil war in Darfur, Africa, is rooted in environmental degradation and more precisely in water scarcity. Water availability has also been linked to the Syrian crisis. Asia is the world’s driest continent in terms of per person freshwater availability. China is aspiring to make the most of the rivers at its 10
Only a tiny 0.007% of the water on Earth can actually be used by humans
borders by withholding water that crosses its frontiers. Naturally this is of serious concern to neighbouring countries. The Chinese former water resources minister’s described the nation’s water policy as, “To fight for every drop of water or die”. China’s attitude has implications for the people and environments reliant on the rivers: /// The degradation of natural environments due to the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, caused by the proliferation of big dams. /// A decreased resilience to landslides and earthquakes due to the clearance of upstream areas. /// Socio-economic and cultural losses such as the minorities in Tibet and the Salween River’s ‘Grand Canyon’ (a UNESCO World Heritage site). /// Small downstream communities forced to move due to the loss of ecosystem services on which their livelihoods rely. Global regulation? Climate change is expected to exert further pressure on already stressed water resources. This compounds the argument that we need an international regulatory water framework. The introduction of global strategies would help control fights for the “blue gold”, while promoting better natural resources management. Water scarcity is not yet an issue for most countries in the world. But if economic giants like Europe or the USA also face the risk of the taps running dry, how would we react?
<< Spheres on globe represent the volume of: 1. All water on earth 2. Liquid fresh water on earth 3. Water in lakes and rivers
What is water really worth? Would you rather have a diamond, a smart phone or a glass of water? When it comes to their value, says Visiting Fellow Tracey Zalk, it is all relative
“The best things in life are free… but you can give them to the birds and the bees… I want money… that’s what I want.” So goes the song by Barret Strong, which has been covered by everyone from The Beatles to The Flying Lizards, The Sonics and The Kingsmen. Water might not be totally free in the UK but it’s pretty cheap relative to luxury items like smartphones and diamonds. So What? Indeed, when this question was posed to economists the ‘diamonds-water paradox’ was termed. Why does water – the fundamental and necessary item for life as we know it – cost (so much) less than diamonds which are mainly just an indicator or store of wealth? The answer the economists came up with was based on a supply-demand argument. Diamonds are so much scarcer than water, so people are willing to pay high prices in order to have them. How scarce are diamonds really? In 2012, the Global Sustainability Institute worked with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries to investigate the potential future water-to-people ratio. We discovered that water is not evenly allocated, either geographically or socio-economically. Nor are diamonds. According to Black and King’s The Atlas of Water, the ratio of water-to-citizen in England is much higher than in the Congo. But in the Congo the ratio of diamond-tocitizen is much higher than in England. So diamonds are only scarcer than water in some places, at some times, for some people. But if someone has enough water they will probably turn their desire towards other things. Wanting a smartphone would likely come before wanting a diamond, but would you consider buying a diamond or smartphone if you didn’t have enough water to drink and wash?
Why does water – the fundamental and necessary item for life as we know it – cost (so much) less than diamonds?
Economists tell us that the goal of giving things a price is “the efficient allocation of resources”. Opening our wallets is our day-to-day experience of this. Each time you buy something you consider the time and energy it took you to earn that money, and the alternative ways you could be spending it. So the argument follows that by pricing water more effectively (which would probably mean making it more expensive) we will use it more efficiently. However, an increase in the price of an essential item disproportionately affects the poor. The result could be that water becomes unaffordable to those most in need. But when the price of water does not reflect its value to future generations, other species or the global poor, wastage and inefficient use of water often results. So What is the missing piece? Tariffs. Imagine if, for example, the first ten litres of water you use cost one pound, but then the next litre was two pounds, or perhaps a hundred pounds. Those who choose to use more water could be charged accordingly. The best things in life are free… but you can give them to the birds and the bees… I want… water! 11
Harnessing the power of culture Individuals need to act on climate change, but how can we get the message across successfully? Dr Candice Howarth of the GSI has launched a new network to investigate the impact of communicating climate change creatively We all float in and out of different cultures daily in our professional and personal lives: from a staff meeting, to a drink with a friend at a comedy show, to playing football in a local league. We interact with people from different backgrounds and different organisations, with different sets of values, beliefs and moods. UNESCO defines culture as the ‘set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs’. Culture could in fact be the fourth pillar in defining sustainable development (after social, economic and environmental concerns). It could even be considered the basis for incorporating and applying sustainability that goes across all these pillars. However cultural differences can sometimes cause us to lose sight of our common humanity and are therefore at the root of numerous conflicts. Global problems, individual lives As our understanding of climate change has matured, we are increasingly focusing on the largescale economic, political, cultural and social factors and implications. This means that for individuals, who live in their own worlds and switch from one culture to another, climate change is often perceived as temporally, socially and geographically distant and therefore rarely features as we cope with the stresses of our daily lives. It is linked to so many of our decisions and actions — the energy we use, the car we drive, the food we consume, the water we clean ourselves with, or even the choice to take an umbrella to work— yet we struggle to make the connection. Effective communication will help us share our thoughts, increase our pool of knowledge and help us acknowledge the barriers and successes to adapting and mitigating climate change. Hopefully this will encourage action over the long term. 12
Climate change is linked to so many of our decisions and actions – the energy we use, the car we drive, the food we consume – yet we struggle to make the connection
The Culture for Climate Action Network The Culture for Climate Action Network has been set up by Dr Candice Howarth at the Global Sustainability Institute. It will address how communication can be made more effective in delivering action to tackle climate change. Its vision is to build bridges that will enable us to address sustainability challenges in creative, innovative and academically robust ways. It will bring together individuals from different backgrounds and areas of expertise ranging from government, research, policy, the arts, business, education and more. Through a series of events, shared resources and trusted partnerships we will analyse and challenge the cultural aspect of climate issues. Discussions will encompass a range of different values, beliefs and attitudes, both at the individual and systems levels. By developing communication routes, knowledge from different cultures and disciplines will be brought together. The Culture for Climate Action Network will enable us to communicate information on climate change more effectively, whilst embracing cultural diversity. In this way we hope to become more effective in delivering actions on climate change, actions that will have an impact. For further details please contact email@example.com
Wordle: a quick poll on what people think of when they think of the word ‘culture’
So what?/gsi research
GSI’s first conference finds some answers The rooms were packed full and the ideas flowing at GSI’s first conference. So What happened? The Global Sustainability Institute’s inaugural research conference themed ‘Big Challenges, Creative Solutions’ took place in Cambridge on 15 May 2013. Over a hundred delegates from academic, political, consultancy, commercial and non-commercial organisations attended. Their aim: to explore how individuals both interact with and influence global systems. Emphasis on co-operation How can global trade policy be made greener? Can hairdressers act as agents of social change? These were some of the diverse issues that were covered. A recurrent emphasis of the day was on co-operation rather than competition. The conference allowed space for creativity, and provided a level playing field where people across many disciplines could work collaboratively and find a common language. The delegates included economists, artists, scientists, business entrepreneurs and policy makers. The conference both challenged them and also enabled them to take bold decisions on their return to day-to-day work. The conference was illustrated in real time by award-winning cartoonist and caricaturist Luke Warm. His witty illustrations captured a number of the topics raised throughout the day. Artists in residence at GSI The conference concluded with a private viewing of a sustainability-themed art exhibition. The work was by artists who had spent a week in residency at the institute, and were inspired by GSI research. The vision of the residency was to bring sustainability into a cultural and political territory. From this point artists could wrestle with concepts, theories, history – and even prejudices – related to what is sometimes called ‘environmental art’.
The day provided a level playing field where people across many disciplines could find a common language
So What did we Tweet? We asked delegates to tweet solutions to some of the major challenges facing humanity. Here are just a few of their many comments: How do we get people to value food and water even when they are cheap? #Tax food and water to make it expensive. If you are worried about the poor, #redistribute it to them
Closing the gap between #production & #consumption by changing norms through education & community engagement
How do we move away from GDP as a measure of prosperity?
Start to measure #intangibles.
#Education to expose limitations of GDP & the wealth of nations. Replace our current measure with consensus of happiness, hope and health
So what?/be sustainable
What is embedded water? We use a lot more water than we realise because it is ‘embedded’ in almost every product we buy, explains Dr Alison Greig The average person in the UK uses around 150 litres of water each day. Almost a third of this goes straight down the toilet, over half is used for washing and only 4% for drinking. These figures, however, include only your direct water use. There is a lot more water ‘hidden’ in the food and products you buy. Almost all the products we use in our daily lives will have been produced using some amount of water. This is ‘embedded’ water: the water used when producing a product. It takes around 150,000 litres of water to make a car, 7,000 litres for a pair of jeans, 200 litres for every latte and 7 litres to make the plastic for a bottle of water! If you take this into account, you are actually consuming more like 3,400 litres of water per day!
If you take embedded water into account you are actually consuming more like 3,400 litres – rather than 150 litres – of water per day!
Colombia or Israel. The large amount of water needed to grow these flowers is then not available to the local population for drinking and sanitation. It is not uncommon for this water to have been provided using unsustainable methods, causing environmental damage and pollution to rivers and aquifers. You can, however, see why it would be attractive for water-scarce countries to import water-intensive products instead of producing them themselves. Likewise, ‘water-rich’ countries could profit from their abundance of water by producing waterintensive products for export. From this perspective water is already being traded internationally through the goods that we buy and sell. The concept of virtual water therefore provides us with an indication of the true cost of production and illustrates that local water issues such as depletion, scarcity and pollution are often, in fact, linked to our global economy. In order to address local water problems we need to look at solutions which operate not just within an individual river basin but on a much larger scale.
About 70% of our total water footprint in the UK – including embedded water – is imported from overseas. Some will come from countries where water is already scarce. For example, a bunch of flowers bought in a UK supermarket may be imported from Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador,
The hidden water cost of everyday foods = 50 litres of water
litres of water for one single (100 g)
On average about 700 litres of water are needed to produce one kilogram of apples. The exact amount of water depends on the origin and type of the apple. One glass of apple juice (200 ml) requires about 190 litres of water.
Apple 70Tomato 18
of water one one single (100 litreslitres of water for afor single (100 g) g)
litres of water for aTEXTsingle one (100g) On average about 700 litres of water are MISSING
needed to produce one kilogram of apples. The exact amount of water depends on the origin and type of the apple. One glass of apple juice (200 ml) requires about 190 litres of water.
litres of water for one package (500 g)
litres of water for one package (500g) The rice fields of the world consume about 1 350 billion m3 of water annually, which is 21 % of the global water use for crop production. The sum of virtual water flows between countries related to rice trade is about 75 billion m3 of virtual water per year.
litres of water for one single (100 g)
litres of water for aOnsingle one (100g) average about 700 litres of water are
litres of water for one pound (500 g)
litres of water for one pound (500g) Wheat consumes about 790 billion m3 of
water annually, which constitutes 12 % of the global water use for crop production. International trade in wheat is responsible for 75 billion m3 of virtual water exports annually, which is about 6 % of the total sum of international virtual water flows.
needed to produce one kilogram of apples. The exact amount of water depends on the origin and type of the apple. One glass of apple juice (200 ml) requires about 190 litres of water.
2400 Chocolate litres of water for one bar (100 g)
litres of water for one bar (100g) The water footprint of pure chocolate is
2 400 litres for one 100 g bar (on a world average). Based on a composition of dark chocolate: 40 % cocoa paste (water footprint 33 260 l / kg), 20 % cocoa butter (water footprint 50 730 l / kg), 40 % sugar (water footprint 1 526 l / kg). The biggest impact on the water footprint of chocolate are the cocoa paste and cocoa butter content.
litres of water for one big piece (500 g)
litres of water for one big one piece To produce kilogram (500g) of cheese, 10 litres
© 2013 virtual water artwork by Timm Kekeritz for Raureif, Berlin www.virtualwater.eu
of milk are needed. The volume of water required to produce this milk is 10 000 litres. Processing 10 litres of milk also produces 7.3 litres of whey, which generates more or less the same market value as the cheese.
litres of water for one litre
litres of water for one litre Producing a glass of milk (200 ml) requires about 200 litres of water. Drinking the same volume of orange juice or apple juice would require about 170 and 190 litres of water respectively. Drinking a plain glass of water requires only little more than the water itself.
litres of water for one steak (300 g)
litres of water for one steak In an industrial beef(300g) production system, it takes an average of three years before the animal is slaughtered to produce about 200 kg of boneless beef. The animal consumes nearly 1 300 kg of grain, 7 200 kg of roughages, 24 m3 of water for drinking and 7 m3 of water for servicing. To produce 1 kg of boneless beef, we use about 6.5 kg of grain, 36 kg of roughages, and 155 litres of water (only for drinking and servicing).
allow yourself time to reflect Self-reflection can help us cope with difficult feelings and identify when we want to make changes, says Dr Rosie Robison What is self-reflection? Simply put, self-reflection is the act of consciously thinking about oneself. This can involve actively noticing physical sensations (like body scanning, where one pays attention to different parts of one’s body in turn, from toes to head) or noticing one’s thoughts or emotions. It involves taking a step back and observing oneself, but also being ‘in the moment’ and paying attention to what is happening right now. In recent years the concept of ‘mindfulness’ has become more well-known, and there is significant overlap between self-reflection and meditation practices. In fact, mindfulness is now widely used within the medical profession. The NHS website advises, “paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.” So why is the GSI interested in reflection? Self-reflection can help us to deal with the challenges of living more sustainably. Even thinking about adopting more sustainable ways of living can bring up automatic resistance. For example, we might think, “I just couldn’t live without a car, it’s too much part of who I am”. If we do not fully acknowledge these feelings then we are more likely to simply think that the whole idea of living sustainably is too difficult to be bothered with. But when we allow ourselves to feel our emotions they lose some of their grip and we are better able to recognise areas that we can change and to make positive choices about how we really want to live.
reflect on your water use Do you know how much water you use in your home? Find out by using a water calculator: http://www.scottishwater.co.uk/ you-and-your-home/your-home/water-efficiency/water-calculator
Include embedded water in your calculations and compare the results. Try the water footprint calculator at http:// www.waterfootprint.org/?page=cal/WaterFootprintCalculator. For more about embedded water, visit Waterwise: http://www.waterwise.org.uk/
three exercises you can try Name your emotions
When we have difficult feelings, we often try to ignore or avoid them. However, research shows that when we name our feelings we are better able to cope with them (Lieberman et al, 2007, ‘Putting Feelings into Words’). This could be why it helps to share our worries with a friend. So next time you experience strong emotions, try to closely identify how you are feeling. Are you worried? Frustrated? Impatient? The more specific you can be, the more easily you will be able to see your emotions for what they are: passing feelings that change over time. Do not tell yourself you should not be feeling a certain way – experiencing a spectrum of emotions is part of being human!
Take a mindful moment We all need a break sometimes, but further stimulation is not very restoring. When you are tempted to check your phone, emails, or visit your favourite distraction website, why not take a ‘mindful’ break instead? Spend five minutes looking out of the window. Notice the world outside, how you are feeling and concentrate on your breathing.
Find three good things
Do you want to increase your everyday happiness? Each night before you go to sleep follow these three steps, recommended by Professor Martin Seligman: 1. Think of three good things that happened today. 2. Write them down. 3. Reflect on why they happened. So why does this make us feel better? We have evolved with a tendency to pay far more attention to potentially negative events than positive ones. However, it is important for our wellbeing that we gain a more balanced perspective and consciously recognise the good things in life. 15
Global Sustain ability Institute
whoâ€™s who at the GSI
Dr Aled Jones Director
Dr Alison Greig Director of Education for Sustainable Development
Dr Candice Howarth Senior Research Fellow
Dr Rosie Robison Senior Research Fellow
Dr Irene Monasterolo Postgraduate Research Fellow
Chris Foulds Postgraduate Research Fellow
Victor Anderson Visiting Professor
Dr Bob Evans Visiting Fellow
Ben Roberts Aran Services Low Carbon KEEP Associate
Julie-Anne Hogbin Project & Commercial Manager
Ella Wiles Research Assistant
Mike Thompson Director, MSc Sustainability
Samir Saran PhD Student
Joab Omondi PhD Student
David Natalini PhD Student
Zsuzsa Pogats PhD Student