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Rice and risks in the Mekong Delta

The wet and verdant expanse of the Mekong Delta’s rivers and farms is a veritable rice bowl for the world. Not only do the region’s paddies produce half of Viet Nam’s rice crop yearly, the country is the world’s third largest rice exporter, with 17% of world exports of paddy rice, the vast majority of which is produced in the Mekong Delta. Read post here.

Flood watch on the river Seine: A return to 1910?

It has been a wet winter in Paris and the River Seine is rising fast: 2 cm, or about an inch, every hour. This will bring the Seine to a little over six metres, as measured by the Austerlitz monitoring station or, as Parisians will tell you, up to the thighs of the Le Zouave statue on the Pont de l’Alma (our photo). That’s how high it got in 2016. Already, several major roadways along the river banks have been flooded over, while the city authorities are issuing warnings, not just in Paris, but in several French cities. How bad can it get? Read post here.

Water and climate: From risk management to investment opportunity

In September 2017, the United Nations (UN) adopted a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water. For years water had been under-valued, under-priced and too often taken for granted, so Goal 6 on water and sanitation was a momentous recognition of water’s crucial policy importance. Though just one of 17 SDGs, this goal also sits at the heart of many of them: water is essential for food security, health, cities, sustainable consumption and production, and terrestrial ecosystems. 

Rising sea levels: Will we adapt or drown?

Low-lying island states like the Maldives and densely populated coastal cities like New York have at least one thing in common: they are faced with the challenge of rising sea levels. In fact, close to a quarter of the world’s population lives within 100 metres of a coast. Although we cannot predict exactly the pace and upper limits of the current rise, we do know that sea levels will continue rising and that the impacts will be costly.

Managing earth: The land-water-energy nexus

Demographics, lifestyle, urbanisation, farming and transport: all are facts of life and, as we try to manage our economies and our environment, are the focus of millions of policy actions around the world. We must reduce pollution and congestion. 

Under the sea

With marine biodiversity deteriorating at an alarming rate, there will soon be little left of the “octopus’s garden” that The Beatles once sang about. According to Marine Protected Areas: Economics, Management and Effective Policy Mixes, pollution, overfishing and rising temperatures have damaged or destroyed 60% of the earth’s marine ecosystems. Policymakers have been addressing the issue, too, and are increasingly designating marine protected areas (MPAs) as an instrument for the preservation of biodiversity. 

“Oceanfills”: Yet another dumping ground

The world’s oceans are being damaged by a constant and unprecedented accumulation of waste known as marine debris. The waste, mostly from effluent human activities, is brought to the oceans through currents and often carried far from where it originated. 

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Seth M. Siegel: "Can a desert nation help solve the world's water shortage?"

Seth M. Siegel is a businessman, activist and the author of Let There Be Water. He visited the OECD on 31 January 2017, giving a talk on solutions for water scarcity. Part of the Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Mr Siegel below. 

water,oecd,environment,urban
Urban water

Too much, too little, too polluted: these are three water risks facing many urban areas. By 2050, worldwide water demand will increase by 55%. This will mean fierce competition across different water users–farmers, industries, households, etc. Whether containing flooding in Paris, drought in San Francisco or groundwater contamination in Mexico City, cities everywhere are asking how to anticipate, avoid and overcome future water crises. 

agriculture, drought, flood, OECD, water
Water: It's all or nothing

Major floods and droughts have prevailed in many countries throughout 2015. South Africa saw the emergence of its worst drought in 30 years, Ethiopia is threatened with a major food crisis, and California suffered its fourth consecutive year of drought. Floods caused over 2 000 deaths in India last summer, while England, Paraguay and South Carolina reported unprecedented flood damage. The trouble is, climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of such extreme weather events in the coming years.

ireland, blue economy, maritime, aquaculture, oecd
Casting off towards a blue future

Open any atlas, look at any globe, and Ireland appears as a small green island on Europe’s Atlantic rim. In fact, Ireland’s territory is almost the size of Germany, and mostly blue.

water, agriculture, sustainable, oecd
Groundwater is not so well

Freshwater is essential for life, yet makes up only a tiny fraction of all water on earth. In many areas, especially arid and dry regions, underground aquifers are the only source. Even in less arid regions, groundwater provides an essential resource: in fact, some 2.6 billion people worldwide rely on groundwater resources. Farming is one major reason: over 60% of irrigated agriculture in the US uses groundwater, and in Spain more than 70% of irrigation comes from below ground reserves.    

Improving water safety and global prosperity: Preparedness, participation and return

In January of this year I visited the Mexican state of Tabasco–a state crossed by rivers and facing the Gulf of Mexico. The state’s population has doubled over the past 30 years and its economy relies heavily on oil and natural gas resources. It has its challenges as well: unemployment, poverty and a lack of resources. 

New publications: Focus on water

All publications available at www.oecd.org/bookshop and www.OECD-iLibrary.org

Sharp drop

It is widely accepted nowadays that climate change affects water supply. After all, it plays havoc with rainy seasons, melts glaciers, and causes drought in normally humid regions. 

Ripples from the water-energy-food nexus

In Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity, Timothy Mitchell tells how in 1942, an epidemic of gambiae malaria in Egypt was caused by a perfect storm of interactions between rivers, dams, fertilisers, food webs, and the influences of the Second World War. It began with the building of dams and storage reservoirs at Aswan by the Nile, which provided the anopheles mosquito with new breeding spots.

Water: Unclogging the finance

How to improve water systems is one challenge; financing them is another. Public authorities in most countries play the main role in implementing and funding water infrastructure, but it is a model that is under increasing pressure, with government budgets stretched and banks still prudent about issuing credit. 

Water can be the source of a brighter future

Water, like air and food, is our life support. It covers about 70% of the surface of our planet. But only 2.5% of it is fresh water, the rest being ocean, with a small fraction of that being available as drinking water. As a fragile resource, water must be nurtured with investment, management and care. From oceans and vast rivers to the spring in the garden, we must safeguard our water as a source of well-being, prosperity and progress.

Nurturing our water empire

Water holds huge potential for economic, social and individual betterment. There are challenges to confront, but also opportunities. With the right approach, water could be a harbinger of progress. 

Water governance at stake

Investing in infrastructure for water is important, but how we govern water is more critical than ever. 

Israel: Innovations overcoming water scarcity
"Israel’s successes arise from the continuous need for and support of innovative methods, technologies, holistic water resource management and strategies for sustainably providing for the nation’s water needs."

World Water Day: City slickers and water security

Water infrastructure (particularly piping) in our cities is old, cracking and needs to be upgraded. In some cities, leakage from distribution networks is as much as 40%.

Mapping global risks in 2015

What are the main threats to the world’s stability in the 10 coming years? Geopolitical risks as well as a water crisis have become a bigger threat than an economic breakdown, according to the World Economic Forum.

The Ripple Effect: Water-Energy-Food Nexus

Studies estimating that the global demand for water, energy, and food will increase by 55%, 80%, and 60% respectively by 2050.

Stormy waters

Climate change is, to a large extent, water change. Water is the predominant channel through which the impact of climate change will be felt. More torrential rains, floods and droughts can be expected in many parts of the world. Not only that–climate change is reshaping the future for freshwater on the planet. 

Water balance

In September 2013 the Kenyan government and the United Nations announced the discovery of huge underground reserves of water in northern Kenya, enough water to last the entire nation for 70 years. The Lotikipi Basin Aquifer and Lodwar Basin Aquifer were located by satellite in drought-afflicted Turkana County, where water scarcity and competition for grazing land has led to deadly cattle raids between communities. 

The EU fish discard ban: Where’s the catch?

The EU’s ban on discarding caught fish in February 2013 has received widespread applause. Why?

Fresh water concerns

“We’re going to run out of water much much earlier than we’ll run out of oil,” warned Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestlé, at the OECD Forum in May 2012.

#39 Frankie deals with water issues
Beautiful waterways for the Big Apple

New York is investing in a greener, cleaner future.