> posted by   on December 4th 2013

New Geography – New Water*

I was asked by Dutch Waterbedrijf Limburg to contribute with my WATER story.

New Geography – New Water*

*WATER: fresh water, drinking water, running water, city water, municipal water, potable water, tap water, PET water, virtual water, human right, precious commodity, oldest consumer asset sector in civilization, universal goods, food, life, planet, existence …

Water, a safe environment and natural food resources were the most important factors for human dwellings and settlements. Today, our job takes the first place and the rest we just take for granted. After the industrial era our cities have become larger and our natural environment has made a transition from rural to urban. This was caused by the shift from an agriculture-based economy to mass industry, technology, and services.
Today, for the first time ever, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities and this proportion continues to grow.

Currently, around half of all urban dwellers live in cities with between 100 000 – 500 000 people, and fewer than 10% of urban dwellers live in MEGACITIES (defined by UN Habitat as a city with a population of more than 10 million).

By the middle of the 21st century, the urban population will almost have doubled. Almost all urban population growth in the next 30 years will occur in cities of developing countries. These places may be poor, but according to McKinsey, 440 big cities in emerging economies will make up half of the planet’s economic growth by 2025 (check McKinsey’s Urban World App). In high-income countries, on the other hand, the urban population is expected to remain largely unchanged over the next two decades, increasing from 920 million people to just over 1 billion by 2025.

All these changes have a mega impact on human basic needs: water and food. Already two years ago Paul Polman, the CEO Unilever (one of the world’s largest food producers) warned about the upcoming global food production crisis. His concern was not only about climate change, water scarcity, megacities or demographics, but also about short-term profit speculators that cause food price inflation.

Another interesting statement came from Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, former CEO of multinational Nestlé. According to Brabeck-Letmathe, “water is a foodstuff that should be privatized, not a human right”. The former Nestlé CEO says that with the global population rising, water is not a public right, but a resource that should be managed by businessmen. Nestlé turned ordinary water into a billion-dollar business. Unfortunately, this Swiss company dominates the global business in bottled water. (According to “Bottled Life”, a documentary film by Urs Schnell).

Our political and economic geography is changing, influencing our water landscape. Water is a unique commodity because nothing else can substitute for it. Indeed, nothing is as universal, and as necessary, as water. Because it is needed for virtually everything we produce and consume, its availability—and its price—are crucial to the global economy and to the livelihood of the world’s population.

It means we have entered a new time that needs new quests: the 21st century demands a new holistic approach – a recalibration of the government’s role, measures against profit hunters and capitalistic exploiters, including a revitalisation of the dialogue with citizens. We need to design a new mind-set to shift the capitalistic consumer mind from ‘commoditised product’ into ‘precious commodity’ drinking water awareness. We (as consumers) cannot take clean, drinking water for granted anymore, and have to stop the privatisation and commoditisation.

I believe in the future power of regional water suppliers that provide sustainable services for a glocal economy.

WATER mood in St-Hilaire church

Below pictures are from St-Hilaire church in Melle, France, where French designer Mathieu Lehanneur designed a new church interior. When I saw these images for the first time, I was amazed. It is exactly my WATER-mood. (Photography by Felipe Ribon)


The infographic is about the importance of water for the human body:

Above image from: Health24.com



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