“Global Cooperation Pivotal to Tackling Water Challenges”, by Dr. Salim

We are glad to inform that Dr. Nidal Salim’s, the GIWEH Director, presentation “Global Cooperation Pivotal to Tackling Water Challenges” made at the 7th World Water Forum Kick-off Meeting (Daegu, South Korea) was successfully published in The Korea Times.

The publication is available here and it is full test is the following:

Global cooperation pivotal to tackling water challenges

By Nidal Salim

In all corners of the globe, shortages of water and sanitation persist consecutively. Nations throughout the world have started to secure clean and safe water resources while protecting their citizens against water-related disasters.

International organizations are also developing strategies to deal with water-related issues. Tackling water challenges has become a global topic for the 21st century.

Water issues have been political issues in many nations, while interested parties (governments, the academic world, private organizations and interest groups) have strived to find solutions to address global water challenges.

Water issues are not matters of a single region or nation, but matters that require global solidarity and joint counter-measures.

Korea faces many challenges similar to many modern societies, including urbanization and densification, environmentally friendly economic development, adaptation to climate change, natural disaster prevention, ecological quality and preservation of nature.

The 7th World Water Forum, which will be held in Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province in 2015, will be a global platform to discuss 21st century water related major challenges.

One big challenge will be to approach integrated water resources management from a multidisciplinary approach by developing real pro-active strategies to sustain a coherent development based on a social and economic consensus.

Some countries in the Middle East and North America region have begun to think about green growth as a key factor for development to cope with the various aspects and challenges facing water management. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia highlight this subject as a top priority and work to incorporate it in their future strategy plans.

Korean society has adopted a unique approach, linking social, economic and ecological dimensions. This approach represents a major long-term challenge not only for Korean society but for all modern societies.

The absence of standard measures, recent experience and knowledge of the magnitude of such projects, combined with non-equivalent past experience and the instability of the international economical environment are major challenges to such projects.

The degree of success will be difficult to predict but it is essential to view this initiative as a pioneer step toward developing new concepts in presenting Green Growth Strategy as an innovative development approach involving a fundamental shift in the country’s growth paradigm, moving from “quantitative growth” to “qualitative growth”.

The challenges induced by the climate evolution force us to rethink how we develop and plan our cities.

For reasons such as land use, energy consumption, health services and safety, modern cities are concentrating more and more inhabitants in dense living environments such as towers.

This process can already be observed in Korea and will be the trend for coming decades. This densification results in a reduction in land consumption and allows more space to be kept for a high-quality ecological environment.

However, the concentration of population necessitates an improvement of the global quality of living conditions and the level of safety in urban environments.

This level of safety is directly linked to the capacity of a city to provide its inhabitants with the services they expect to receive.

Of course, water supply is a key issue but the sensitivity to natural hazards related to water is also important. The growing complexity of our cities contributes to increased vulnerability during extreme situations.

Throughout centuries, Koreans have developed an affective and close relationship with their rivers. As in most industrialized countries, economic development has contributed to exposed natural environments and ecosystems at the hands of human actions.

While some of those actions have depreciated the ecosystems, others have preserved and even improved ecological diversity.

The main tool for assessing dynamic aquatic environments will be the monitoring of water resources and extreme events. This continuous effort of analysis is one key for success and will allow the implementation of corrective actions that may be needed.

By holding the 7th World Water Forum in 2015 and its two-year preparation process, Korean society has made the choice for a new strategy of development that integrates some of the key challenges of the 21st century: climate change, water security and sustainability.

With their willingness to review their development paradigm, Korea clearly appears to be a leading nation.

The choice to move a more resilient environment represents a major challenge for all of society, and contributes to an elaborate and original concept that will be a future reference for inspiration.

The writer is director at The Global Institute for Water Environment and Health (GIWEH) in Switzerland.

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