The European Parliament this month approved new legislation that establishes clear “green” criteria for investors is critical to raising public and private funding so that the European Union can become carbon neutral by 2050 as set out in the European Green Deal.
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Professor Bob Ferrier, Director of the Hydro Nation International Centre (HNIC) at The James Hutton Institute (JHI), Scotland, is in conversation with David Duncan, Publisher, OOSKAnews – VIDEO LINK
Ferrier describes the rationale of the Scottish Government's Hydro Nation Programme; the work of the globally renowned JHI; and the Hydro Nation International Centre.
As one of the largest interdisciplinary centres of its kind, the Centre contributes to Scotland’s continued efforts to become the world’s first Hydro Nation – one that manages its water environment to the best advantage and uses its expertise at home and internationally.
Professor Ferrier has over 30 years’ experience in water resources management, with a particular focus on developing a holistic approach to achieving sustainable solutions to resource management. He has worked globally on issues such as acid rain, diffuse pollution, contaminants, catchment to coast interactions, driven by climate change, land use, and human influences.
The Scottish government's Hydro Nation initiative collaborates in the aquaNOW Audiences panel show series, produced by OOSKAnews.
The Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) annual report, published 16 June, includes a noteworthy statement calling for increased transparency from China over upstream dam operations on the river. The Mekong is Southeast Asia's longest river and acts as a lifeline to 60 million people.
Downtream Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam all suffered severe drought in 2019 as the river fell to record lows while upstream dams in China reportedly held "above-average natural flow”, withholding water and compounding the drought.
Multinational consumer goods company Unilever has announced creation of a new Climate & Nature Fund with a commitment to invest $1.1 Billion USD across all brands over the next ten years.
The new range of measures, announced 15 June, is described as being designed to improve health of the planet through decisive action to fight climate change, and protect and regenerate nature. Programmes will be directed at landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation. Unilever intends to work with stakeholders and governments and to improve access to water, especially in water-stressed areas.
New funding has been confirmed for operation support and maintenance of the North Gaza wastewater treatment plant. The World Bank announced new funding of $10 Million USD 10 June for four years, and is further supported with $3.7 Million USD from the Partnership for Infrastructure Development Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), which will be deployed on the Moon in late 2023 to prospect for water ice that could support future human missions, will be delivered by US space robotics technology Astrobotic Technology.
VIPER will investigate the moon for 100 days, roving over several miles and sampling various soil environments. In addition, the rover will take core samples of up to three feet.
NGO European Water Association's (EWA) “Water Manifesto 2020” identifies current challenges for water management in Europe and presents corresponding sustainable solutions in four critical themes:
- Nature-based Solutions to Respond to Climate Change
- Financing Investment in Water Services
- Asset Management and Digitalisation of Water Infrastructure
- Boosting Water Demand Management
The "Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Collaborative" has called on the Canadian government to implement a proposed $1.6 Billion USD Action Plan to address some of the greatest environmental challenges facing the region over the next ten years.
The World Bank has approved $27.4 Million USD in financial support for Kosovo’s Fostering and Leveraging Opportunities for Water Security Program (FLOWS). A 10 June announcement describes the programme's aims to strengthen Kosovo’s capacity for managing water security at the national level and to improve water security in the driest region of Morava e Binces basin, in particular.
Experts at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have urged the Government of Japan to delay any decision regarding the release of radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear facility until after the COVID-19 crisis has passed and full consultations with affected communities and neighbouring countries can be completed.
OOSKAnews Voices is a series of guest columns written by senior participants in different parts of the international water community. In this article, Renee Martin-Nagle examines unconventional water resources (UWR). Martin-Nagle is President and CEO of A Ripple Effect plc, Treasurer of the International Water Resources Association and a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute. She holds two undergraduate degrees and three law degrees, including a PhD in Law from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Her book Governance of Offshore Freshwater Resources was published by Brill Nijhoff in early 2020.
With predictions of dire consequences for humans and other species due to an impending global freshwater scarcity, attention is turning to sources of freshwater that have until now been viewed as unconventional. On 5 June 2020, UN-Water published an Analytical Brief that examines in detail several types of unconventional water resources (UWR), some of which have been utilised for years while others await catalysing circumstances:
Over 50 armed men on motorbikes attacked a refugee camp in western Niger 31 May, killing two Malian refugee leaders and a local host community leader. The site hosts some 20,000 refugees and an additional 15,000 displaced Niger nationals. The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) reports that the gunmen then torched food supplies and aid items, destroyed mobile phone towers and the main water station and pipe network.
A new report from the United Nations’ High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (HLP) suggests that improving water supply, especially in developing nations, would have a significant positive effect on the amount of plastic waste dumped in oceans.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced an investment of $12.5 Million USD for construction of a wastewater treatment plant and related sewerage network for the municipality of Gjilan/Gnjilane in Kosovo. Funds will also be applied to other key environmental protection infrastructure. The project will be co-financed by EBRD ($11.5 Million USD) and an EU grant of $4 Million USD.
World Environment Day (5 June) 2020, hosted by Colombia, had the theme "Time For Nature". In an address marking the occasion Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), described “Humanity’s unhealthy relationship with nature”, saying that “The science does not lie…We can tell much of the story of the damage our species has wrought with a few facts”:
- Humanity has altered 75 per cent of the Earth’s ice-free surface.
- Since 1990, 420 million hectares of forest, equal to three times the size of South Africa, have been lost.
- Nearly one million species face extinction, while the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest illegal trade crime in the world.
- COVID-19, which was transmitted from animals to humans, is a direct warning that nature can take no more. COVID-19 is zoonotic, a type of disease that transmits between animals and humans. We are facing it in large part because humanity’s expansion into wild spaces and exploitation of species brings people into closer contact with wildlife. COVID-19 may be one of the worst, but it is not the first. 75 Percent of all emerging infectious diseases are of zoonotic. origins. Ebola, SARS, the Zika virus and bird flu all spread from animals to people, often due to human encroachment on nature.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has agreed on $700 Million USD for projects and programmes to help developing countries keep advancing urgent environmental priorities through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic. The new and expanded programming, announced 3 June by the Facility’s governing body, will help developing countries protect marine biodiversity, fight wildlife trafficking, tackle dangerous uses of mercury, and fortify defenses against climate change in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, in basic services such as drinking water, and other areas.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified water security among six “global systemic risks” in a white paper which outlines a governance framework to enable the investment community to address the annual investment gap of $6.26 Trillion USD required to mitigate these risks. The other systemic risks are climate change, population growth, geopolitical uncertainty, negative interest rates and technology disruption.
“Transformational Investment: Converting Global Systemic Risks into Sustainable Returns”, released in May, provides new insights to ensure that the long-term impact of non-traditional risks and opportunities can be better understood.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declared a local state of emergency 3 June after 20,000 tons of oil leaked into rivers from a power plant in the Arctic north of the country.
The contamination happened 29 May when the “oil products” leaked from a tank in an industrial plant operated by Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company, a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and one of the largest producers of nickel, platinum and copper.
Putin said in a 3 June meeting with officials that “The accident took place at the industrial site of the Nadezhdinski Metallurgical Plant, and part of the spilled petrochemicals, a considerable amount actually, seeped into the Ambarnaya River”.
The government of Ethiopia has described preparations for land clearing behind the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ahead of commencing filling its Blue Nile reservoir with water in July.
Bashir Abdel Rahim, Director General of Ethiopia’s Job Creation Agency said 30 June that more than 2,000 workers will be deployed to remove trees, shrubs and stones from the land behind the dam, with a total of 1,000 hectares to be cleared within 45 days.
Previously on 21 May, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to resume technical discussions on filling the dam after virtual talks between Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Livestreamed and Recorded 27 May, 2020 - CLICK HERE to watch "Water and Resilient Cities", an aquaNOW Audience
- The relationship between freshwater ecosystems and human-hydrologic systems
- Global exemplars of smart, resilient cities
- Differences between the urban “north” and urban “south”
- Community-centred decision-making and application
- Political will, education and “buy-in”
The Water Diplomat is produced by OOSKAnews, Inc in a collaboration with The Geneva Water Hub. Content is produced by, and copyright held by OOSKAnews, Inc and do not represent any official position of The Geneva Water Hub.