In This Issue: Water in Latin America; introducing our Hydroclimatology Lab; news, analysis, and upcoming events (and event recaps).
What does water mean to you? That question, under the theme Valuing Water, was posed by UN Water to generate a global conversation during World Water Day, which took place this week. Meaning and value are apt notions to help us move away from reductionistic perspectives that fix water only as a natural resource (ready for exploitation or in need of conservation). Water, besides being a vital natural resource, is a social object that cuts across various spheres of human action, including political, economic, and cultural. In this issue, we want to draw your attention to four new resources that can help us think about all the inter-related dimensions through which water runs and seeps into social life:
For a conceptual treatment of water and society, download the free open access book recently made available by FLACSO-Mexico titled El conflicto del agua: Política, gestión, resistencia y demanda social (available in Spanish only). Using multi-disciplinary case-studies from Mexico, the book explores the legal, institutional, political, and social transformations triggered by the State’s attempt to control and deploy a modernized water policy. This policy has generated social conflict around access, distribution, quality and conservation of water across the country. The book contributes to our understanding of how, in the process of control and technical management of water, the State has ruptured the relationships of communities with water and its social value, along with ideas and cultural meanings around it, generating resistance and a crisis of water. The book provides valuable lessons that are applicable to the rest of Latin America.
For the perspective from public policy, we include a brand-new report released by UNEP this week, which focuses on the management of the water cycle, from use to disposal and recovery. The book “looks beyond human health, marine environment protection and resource recovery to the many other ways that sustainable sanitation and wastewater systems can contribute to meeting the social, environmental, and economic goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Even though this report is of global scope, it includes case-studies from Brazil and Bolivia on water reuse and management and protection. For a regional view of Central American water policy, ECLAP recently held a series of online seminars focused on drinking water and issues of access, sanitation, regulation and management, and sustainable development, you can download the slides in the link below.
Finally, we encourage you to attend the online launch of the book The Water Defenders, by Robin Broad and John Cavanagh (DC-based scholars and activists who have supported Central American social movements for decades). Bolivia’s water wars exploded in the international press in the 1990’s and are now a paradigmatic case study of water conflict in Latin America, but little is known internationally of the remarkable story of the anti-mining struggle in El Salvador, which centered around water protection and climate justice issues. The Water Defenders outlines the conflict and successful campaign to ban mining, or alternatively, to protect water from mining, in tiny El Salvador.
The editors, Region360.org
Introducing: The Region360 Hydroclimatology Lab
Over the next few weeks, we will introduce each of our Region360 labs and their projects. This week: our Hydroclimatology Lab!
Central America has been affected by a combination of droughts, floods, hurricanes, and crop decimation for most of the last decade. Climate change is predicted to exacerbate these phenomena in the coming decades. Our Hydroclimatology Lab addresses the call of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to develop a wide range of analytical and policy approaches to evaluate risks and develop mitigation and adaptation responses to the climate change crisis.
Our Lab has launched a survey of regional water resources to determine human-induced pressures on water networks. Our modeling and water programs will provide important knowledge for hydrological, agricultural, and ecological projections for the region. With this project, we seek to bridge the gap between highly technical climate data and public awareness of this information by generating accessible, interactive tools to support policy and education sectors as well as social and citizen groups in the region. Our Lab is led by Rodrigo Fernández, PhD, an expert climate scientist with advanced training in hydrology and climatology.
Additional Events and Reports:
Soluciones latinoamericanas a una crisis de salud climática: an online seminar focusing on climate change and health will be held on March 27th.
- See below the the recording for the this first session of The Turn, in which Professors Jeffrey Sachs and Roberto Mangabeira Unger set the stage for their five-part discussion with the question “What happened to socially inclusive economic growth and progressive politics?”
- See below the recording for the encuentro sobre educación para el desarrollo sostenible, pedagogías y reflexiones, a dialogue on education and sustainability in Latin America.