Now that the environment is an issue on everyone’s table – having finally left the confines of what the public believes is the bearded lunatic fringe – it’s becoming an agenda for governments the world over. It’s unavoidable. The economics of water loss will impact hugely on farming, food prices and sustainability in vast stretches of the world, and southern Europe is already feeling the heat. A recent BBC piece detailing the impending scarcity of water shows that the good news behind this possible new calamity is prescient action from scientists and politicians.
At the recent World Water Forum in Marseille, the European Environmental Agency’s (EEA) executive director, Jacqueline McGlade said, “Nations need to use different kinds of methods. Instead of just having a hosepipe ban to fix this year’s problem, you need to invest in a very different way…long-term investment needs to recognise these different uses of how water is allocated, how it is used [and the need for] different water qualities.”
Even former Soviet president, Mikhael Gorbachev, was at the event and gave a speech calling for action on the scarcity of water and illuminated the simple fact that there “is no substitute” for it. He also made clear, in what he believes, is the interconnectivity of socio-political ideology and the current struggle to maintain adequate fresh water around the world, “The economy needs to be reoriented to goals that include public goods such as a sustainable environment, people’s health, education, culture and social cohesion, including an absence of glaring gaps between the rich and the poor.” You couldn’t ask for a more timely and topical answer, and also one that the EEA is working hard to help deliver guidance to governments on in 2012 – hoping to publish four more reports aimed at influencing policymakers by year’s end.