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Illegal Mining Threatens Health, Environment In Amazonia

WARRENTON VA, United States

A new survey reports the existence of more than 2000 sites and 200 illegal mining areas threatening the health of indigenous populations and the environment in six Amazonian countries. Thirty rivers are affected by mining or being used as routes for the entry of machinery and the outlet of minerals.

A Triumph Of Innovation And Governance: Forty Years Of Cooperation On The Transboundary Genevois Aquifer

GENEVA, Switzerland

A forty year success story of transboundary governance by Switzerland and France of the Genevois Aquifer ("Nappe du Genevois") was celebrated in Geneva November 29 with a one-day seminar "Shared Management of Resources: A Pioneer Experience on Water".

This is Part One of an OOSKAnews Feature to mark the anniversary.

A full audio interview with Alice Aureli, Chief of Groundwater Systems and Settlements Section, UNESCO Water Sciences Division, can be found here on YouTube.

Lake Geneva and the Genevois Aquifer provide drinking water for nearly 700,000 inhabitants of the Franco-Genevese region. The aquifer, shared by the Swiss Canton of Geneva and France's Haute-Savois Department is jointly expolited through ten wells in Switzerland and four wells in France.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was identified that the level of the aquifer had dropped because of large and uncoordinated pumping on both sides of the border, prompting consideration of technical solutions to overexploitation of the groundwater resources, to include artificial recharge of the aquifer during winter, when demand is lower, with water from the Arve River.

An innovative artificial recharge system became operational in 1980 while, in parallel, organizational, administrative, financial, legal and political mechanisms have been deployed with an aim to achieve transboundary consensus on joint management and protection of the groundwater resources. The Genevois Aquifer is to date one of the few examples of an agreement for local level management of a transboundary aquifer.

Since the artificial recharge system's inception, it has allowed an overall contribution of 300 million cubic meters of filtered water to the Genevois Aquifer. OOSKAnews caught up in Geneva with Alice Aureli, Chief of Groundwater Systems and Settlements Section, UNESCO Water Sciences Division. In this audio interview, Aureli describes the functions of UNESCO's International Hydrological Program and her Groundwater Systems and Settlements Section; the importance of groundwater resources as the planet's climate changes; the technical and governance challenges of shared, transboundary groundwater resources around the world; and the lessons that can be learned from the success story of the Genevois Aquifer.

The full audio conversation with Alice Aureli is available here on YouTube.

In a second interview to be transmitted in January, OOSKAnews will talk to Gabriel de los Cobos, Service of Geology Soil and Waste of the State of Geneva about the specific technical and governance challenges of the Genevois Aquifer, and the secrets of the forty year success story.

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Deregulation Of Mountaintop Removal Endangers Health Of US Mining Communities

WASHINGTON DC, United States

New research published by advocacy group Human Rights Watch claims that the Trump administration and the United States Congress have endangered public health in mining communities. The report asserts that Congress has failed to mitigate health risks to streams that arise from mountaintop removal---a form of mining prevalent in 13 eastern US coal-mining states.

Water Pipeline Between Israeli Settlements Will Disrupt Palestinian Farmers

NABLUS, Palestine

The government of Israel has informed Palestinian landowners that a new 7-kilometer water pipeline is to be constructed between two illegal settlements in the northern portion of the West Bank.

USDA Invests in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in 46 States

WASHINGTON DC, United States

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has earmarked up to $2.4 Billion USD for water and environmental infrastructure projects in 46 states, affecting 936,000 rural Americans.

Funding For Drinking Water Supply In Northern Haiti

WASHINGTON DC, United States

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has approved a $125 Million USD grant for a drinking water supply system in Haiti’s north region. The project will include urban, periurban, and rural areas.

Trump Administration Seeks To Gut US Water Protections

WASHINGTON DC, United States

US government agencies this week proposed a redefinition of “waters of the United States” that “clarifies” federal authority under previous President Obama’s Clean Water Act. Environmentalist groups say that many of the country’s wetlands and streams will face serious pollution from industry and farming operations as a result of the removal of federal protections.

Climate and Water at COP24: Will We Catch the Current or Be Trapped in the Eddies?

KATOWICE, Poland

OOSKAnews Voices is a series of guest “opinion columns” written by senior participants in different parts of the international water community.

In this article, John H. Matthews, co-founder and secretariat coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), which is chaired by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and the World Bank, reflects on this month's 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the evolving recognition and presence of "water" as a voice in the UNFCCC.

Matthews’ work integrates technical and policy knowledge for climate adaptation for practical implementation. John has worked globally on these issues since 2007 and has authored many publications on adaptive management for water infrastructure and ecosystems. He has a PhD in ecology from the University of Texas and is based in the United States.
 
I’ve just left COP24 in Katowice, Poland. The UNFCCC COP in Paris three years ago had the Eiffel Tower in its logo - today, we are still living in the shadow of Paris in the negotiations.

I’ve been tracking water in the COP process since COP15 in 2009. The period in between has seen vast changes in the recognition and presence of “water” as a voice in the UNFCCC. Back then, my first impression was that everyone was talking about water impacts but no one seemed to realize that they were constantly referring to water management decisions. Water was present but the water community was invisible.

The next year - 2010 - was the Cancun, Mexico, conference. Water was covered in a single unofficial side event organized by the World Bank; water was figuratively outside of the COP — but literally as well, some 20 km away from the negotiations. But word was leaking out. The message that climate adaptation for people and ecosystems was largely about water began to permeate the COP.

The 2015 Paris Agreement marked a huge transition. Overall, we had a clear framework for talking about both emissions and adaptation at national and global levels. Although water was not named in the Paris Agreement, the water community for the first time began communicating with largely one voice through #ClimateIsWater, while the French, Moroccans, Germans, Dutch, and others sponsored the first UNFCCC Water Action Day to recognize how the UNFCCC is in many ways really the first global water and climate convention — water for clean energy, for carbon sequestration, and for effective and enduring climate adaptation.

Making Polish Sausage at COP24: How Much Can We See?

This year - last Friday - we celebrated the third year of having water formally engaged, with extensive water events looking at climate mitigation and adaptation and how the water community can help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Many of our messages from 2009 and 2010 have become truisms - almost throwaway lines.

But the Paris shadow is long and dark, at least in places. So far, negotiators have not agreed on the urgency of action. The US and many Persian Gulf states have effectively opposed endorsement of the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report. The role of climate change in human migration and displacement remains deeply controversial and sensitive. And many countries are struggling with meeting and clarifying their national goals - the Nationally Determined Contributions to global targets, or NDCs - even as they must revise their first five-year targets to prepare for new, more hopefully more rigorous targets in 2020. The broad aspirations of Paris are becoming more pressing and also need to become more specific and strict. That transition is the challenge now facing negotiators this week.

Water too is facing new challenges. I was the only “sectoral” specialist to speak in an official UNFCCC event on water and finance. Most of the other speakers celebrated new finance vehicles for clean energy and mobilizing large pools of capital for climate mitigation. Only a few also mentioned adaptation.

My turn came to speak. I began by stating that the discussion had largely focused on the quantity of investment, but we had said almost nothing about the quality of that investment. Systemic risks were present in our investment frameworks if we did not recognize that the deep uncertainties in water management for both mitigation and adaptation threatened our ability to achieve most climate goals. Only within the past few years had the water community had only just begun to coalesce and promote methods to address these uncertainties, but few financial institutions recognized these concerns as significant issues. Thus, the finance community needed to use funding vehicles to signal to broader markets and decision makers that our long-term climate security and investment paradigm must float on a pool of resilient water resource for robustness and flexibility.

My points, however, were not heard.

I was silenced - my microphone turned off by the chair before I had finished my talking points. The moderator looked harshly at me: “These are not investment issues and thus not relevant to this discussion.”

Water still has some way to flow, some opposition to erode.

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Veolia Exec Fauchon Is WWC Prez Again

KATOWICE, Poland

The Board of Governors of the World Water Council (WWC) has unanimously elected Loïc Fauchon as its new president, succeding Brazilian Benedito Braga. Fauchon was previously WWC president from 2005 to 2012, and has now been re-elected in 2018. Fauchon is also president of Eaux de Marseille in France, a subsidiary of Veolia, the international water and waste conglomerate.The returning WWC president will have an opportunity to describe WWC priorities December 7 at COP24 in Poland at a special water event where he is scheduled to offer concluding remarks.

WaterAid Calls For COP Recognition Of WASH As Part Of Climate Change Adaptation

KATOWICE, Poland

Sudan, Niger and Pakistan are the top 3 countries with the most threatened water supply, based on new analysis by Water Aid of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative measures of access to water, climate patterns and water usage rates.

$1.8 Billion USD Loan To Thames Water Is Tied To Environmental, Social, Governance Metrics

READING, United Kingdom

The UK’s largest water and waste services provider, Thames Water, has agreed a $1.8 Billion Revolving Credit Facility (RCF) with the interest rate conditional on annual performance against Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) metrics.

Partnership To Secure Africa Water Security Through Transboundary Infrastructure Projects

VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) are partnering to support project preparation, transaction management, resource mobilization, advocacy, capacity development, research and knowledge sharing in the joint implementation of transboundary water projects in Africa.

Sardinia Arrest Over Terrorist Drinking Water Poison Plot

CAGLIARI, Italy

Italian anti-terrorism police have arrested a Palestinian man in Sardinia with links to the Islamic State group on suspicion that he was planning to poison water supply with ricin and anthrax in a terror plot.

ADB Supports Kyrgyz Republic Efforts Climate Change Adaptation Efforts

BISHKEK, Kyrgyz Republic

The Kyrgyz Republic is to benefit from $38.6 Million USD loan and grant funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to modernize irrigation systems, improve agriculture and land management, strengthen disaster risk management, and enhance data collection and analysis.

Honduras: Seven Convicted Of Murder Of Respected Anti-Dam Activist Berta Caceres

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

A court in Honduras has found seven men guilty of the murder of renowned environmental activist Berta Caceres who was shot dead in her home by gunmen in 2016 after receiving death threats for her opposition to the Aqua Zarca hydro-electric dam.

Judges at the court in Tegucigalpa November 29 said two officials from the construction firm Desa - Sergio Rodríguez and Douglas Bustillo - had helped organize the killing along with former soldier Mariano Díaz. Desa has strongly denied any involvement in the murder.

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Environment Secretary Assures Lawmakers UK Will Have Safe Drinking Water In Event Of No-deal Brexit

LONDON, United Kingdom

The UK Environment Secretary was forced last week to reassure a parliamentary committee that the country’s drinking water would be safe in the event of a “no-deal Brexit”, whereby the UK leaves the European Union without an agreed exit deal.

PPP Improves Urban Water Supply In Self-declared State Of Somaliland

TOG WAJAALE, Somaliland

An EU-funded UNICEF project to address water scarcity issues in four towns, affecting 800,000 people in Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia, was inaugurated December 2.

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