Water: “Our Planet’s Most Precious Shared Resource”

“On World Water Day, let us pledge to develop the policies needed to ensure that sustainable water and energy are secured for the many and not just the few.” – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

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Happy World Water Day! This year, the focus of this special day is on the links between water and energy – and climate change.

As United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted in his remarks leading up to World Water Day 2014, water and energy “interact with each other in ways that can help – or hinder – our efforts to build stable societies and lives of dignity for all.”

This is a theme that’s also been noted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who stated: “Water security requires global cooperation to ensure people have the water they need, where they need it, when they need it, reliably and sustainably.”

On Friday, March 21, 2014, as part of Secretary Kerry’s commitment to water security, the U.S. Department of State invited several U.S. companies to share their innovative water technologies and solutions to this global challenge:

What do you think of these solutions for sustainable water and energy? Let us know in the comments!

Read more about the present and future of water innovation on DipNote.

 

 

The Ocean: Our Greatest Natural Resource

This post was written by Andreas Merkl, President and CEO, Ocean Conservancy.  Having grown up on the banks of the Rhine River in industrial northern Germany, Andreas decided at the age of 10 to dedicate his life to conservation. With a background in environmental science, resource economics and business, Andreas is particularly interested in determining the ocean’s rightful role in answering the central question of our time: how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us. Andreas is never happier than when he’s out on the water and is a passionate sailor and surfer and has dived most of the world’s oceans. Follow him on Twitter @AndreasMerkl.

The Ocean: Our Greatest Natural Resource

Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells as the ocean’s chemistry changes, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods.

Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells as the ocean’s chemistry changes, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods.

Despite the fact that our planet is 70 percent water, it’s easy to take for granted the many ways that the ocean keeps us alive. The ocean provides much of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the climate that surrounds us.

The complex ocean systems that produce these benefits—from currents and photosynthesis to food chains—are often chaotic and unpredictable at smaller scales, but at large scales they come together in a balanced way to ensure that life can thrive.

The ocean is resilient, and it will provide for us unless we forget about its vital role at the center of the biggest challenge of our time – how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us.

In every aspect of this challenge—food, energy, climate and protection of our natural resources—our ability to manage our impacts on the ocean will make the crucial difference in sustaining the resources that we need to survive.

One of the ocean’s most important life-giving functions is its absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. But we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, forcing the ocean to absorb more and more of it. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry is changing—it has become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. There is no doubt about this; it is a simple chemical process.

Overall there is no greater threat to life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean acidification is a very large part of the problem.

Ocean acidification is, simply put, the largest chemistry experiment ever attempted. It is happening now, and it has real impacts on people and local economies today. Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells in overly acidic waters, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods. These impacts are likely small compared to what could come if carbon dioxide concentrations keep increasing at the current rate. At a certain point, shell-building animals will not be able to produce the shells they need to survive, with dire consequences for the entire food chain.

At Ocean Conservancy, we’re working with the world’s top ocean acidification scientists to raise awareness about this growing threat. We’re also working on solutions with the people on the front lines who are already being affected, from oyster growers in Washington state to mussel growers in Maine.

The ocean is not just a victim—it must also be the part of the solution. Important decisions about how the ocean is used for fishing, shipping, energy extraction and production, and more have huge implications for the future of carbon emissions and the ocean’s ability to sustain life. That’s why Ocean Conservancy is working with fishermen, shippers, drillers, oceanographers and others to transform ocean health.

Visit Ocean Conservancy’s website to learn more about why the ocean matters and how ocean acidification is affecting those who depend on the ocean for food and livelihoods. There are solutions to be found, and it will take all of our ideas, passion and ingenuity to get there.

 

This entry reflects the author’s personal judgments and does not represent the views of the United States Government or the Department of State.

 

Conservation Organizations

There are large international organizations working in dozens of countries on conservation issues. Here we take a look at three of the biggest and most successful: Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, and the Nature Conservancy. Later in the month we will discuss smaller, community-based organizations working on these same important conservation efforts. Are you familiar with any of the programs of the three groups below?

Conservation International

Conservation International

Conservation International is a non-profit with offices in more than 30 countries, with over 1,000 partner organizations and thousands of projects happening worldwide.
They “are in places such as Raja Ampat, Abrolhos, Andasibe, Tonle Sap Lake and the Nangaritza River.” What do they do, exactly? “Our field work includes expeditions to remote places that are the strongholds of biodiversity, and helps local communities protect the forests, rivers, lakes, mangroves and wetlands that provide shelter, fresh water, food, carbon storage and protection from storms. CI [Conservation International] leverages those discoveries and experience[s] to rally public engagement and call on governments to secure the sustainable management of vast swaths of abundant, threatened ocean[s] and sea[s].” Check out their programs to see if they are working on a project in your country!

World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund

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me-full.html%20″ target=”_blank”>World Wildlife Fund(WWF) specializes in wildlife conservation, specifically for endangered species. Check out their What We Do page for links and information about all of their various projects. Don’t miss the great Where We Work map on that page that will lead you to this site, which gives you a list by continent and country of everywhere they have programs, from the Amazon to Borneo to Madagascar. WWF says its “way of conserving the planet’s natural resources combines [with their] unmatched global reach with a foundation in science, it involves action at every level – from local to global – and it ensures the delivery of innovative

solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.”

Nature Conservancy

Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy “addresses the most pressing conservation threats at the largest scale” and describes themselves as “the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.” They address threats to conservation that involve “climate change, fresh water, oceans and conservation lands” in over 30 countries.  Learn more about their projects, including habitat protection and what they consider the most pressing conservation issues.

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