WATER WARS "is water the new oil?"


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Corin de Frietas presents on 3 August 2010 at Minas International.

There are predictions that water is “the new oil” – some are even saying the next big war will be fought over water. What most people don’t know is that water is already a major driver of many well-publicized conflicts across the world – from Darfur to the Israeli/Palestinian situation – as well as many disputes that get considerably less attention in the media – like the “water wars” in the western United States.

With global climate change predictions, the outlook is increasingly dire, making it key to develop a better understanding of elements that foster more integrated, sustainable, and democratic water governance in order to promote cooperation and avoid future conflict over this finite and invaluable resource.

This Minas International talk will help us understand the power of water and the integral role it will play in the future. We’ll learn who makes decisions about your water and how essentially everything you do can in someway be linked to water politics. We’ll also learn about Corin’s research into water governance in Belo Horizonte and Brazil.

Corin de Freitas is a 2009-2010 Fulbright U.S. Student Fellow researching water governance in the Rio das Velhas Basin. She grew up in the beautiful but water-scarce US state of Colorado, where she first was introduced to the notion of water as the nexus of all human needs and activities – from public health tto environmental sustainability to economic growth to food security. Since then, she has been exploring governance, conflict, and cooperation through the lens of water. This Septemeber, she will continue her research in Vancouver Canada at the University of British Columbia.

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WATER WARS "is water the new oil?"

  1. 1. Water Wars<br />Who Controls Your Water and Why It Matters<br />Corin de Freitas<br />
  2. 2. War Wars<br />Israel/Palestine -- Perpetually<br />Kashmir -- NOW<br />Iraq – 1990s<br />Bolivia – 2000, 2005<br />Kenya -- NOW<br />
  3. 3. War Wars<br />
  4. 4. Water Governance/Water Management<br /><ul><li>Water Governance:
  5. 5. Water Management:</li></li></ul><li>Everything is Water Politics<br />Public Health<br />Economic Growth<br />Energy Policy<br />Environment<br />Recreation <br />Food Security<br />National Security<br />Cultural Heritage<br />Tourism<br />
  6. 6. Everything (You Do) is Water Politics<br />10 litres of water = 1 sheet of paper<br />15500 litres of water = 1 kg of beef<br />2700 litres of water = 1 cotton shirt<br />80 litres of water = US$1<br />
  7. 7. World Water Situation<br />
  8. 8. What Am I Doing in Brazil?!<br />
  9. 9. What’s a River Basin?<br />A river basin is: the land area that is drained by a river and its tributaries.<br />The Rio das Velhas basin:<br />covers 29.173 km;<br />is 761 km long;<br />encompasses 51 municipalities<br />is home to 4,406,190 inhabitants<br />stretches from Cachoeira das Andorinhas in OuroPreto to Várzeada Palma, where it empties into the rio São Francisco <br />
  10. 10. What is Basin-Level Water Governance?<br />Basin-level governance attempts to reconcile hydrographic and political boundaries.<br />Basin-level governance is when decisions about water resources are made at the level of the river basin.<br />Often through participative mechanisms and involving stakeholders<br />Stakeholders: anyone with an interest in water use within a basin, e.g. governments, NGOs, farmers, mining interests, ranchers, sanitation companies, etc…<br />What are the benefits?<br />Basin-level governance recognizes and integrates the multiple and physically interdependent uses of water within a basin system;<br />makes decisions more relevant and sustainable environmentally, economically, politically, and culturally;<br />increases democracy in decision making;<br />and transforms of conflict by institutionalizing many dispute resolution recommendations.<br />(Ideally.)<br />
  11. 11. Brazil’s system<br />In 1997, Brazil passed Lei Federal 9.433, which:<br />Defines the basin as the “planning unit”<br />Basins that cross state lines are administrated at the federal level and basins entirely within a state’s borders are administrated at the state level<br />Mandates planning by basin committees<br />Committees are made up of respresentatives from various levels government, water users and civil society groups<br /> The primary work of committees is:<br />Approving a water resources plan for the basin<br />Establishing mechanisms and setting prices for the use of water within a basin<br />Arbitrating water conflicts<br />Most states passed similar laws around the same time, including Minas Gerais<br />
  12. 12. The Rio das Velhas Basin<br />CBH-Velhas<br />Considered active, powerful, and successful<br />Exhibits largely positive decision-making patterns<br />Likely the only basin committee with sub-basin committees and micro-basin organizing in Brazil<br />“Co-opted” by civil society*<br />Manuelzão Project (UFMG)<br />Why use Meta2010 as a vehicle for understanding CBH-Velhas?<br />Photo courtesy of the Manuelzão Project<br />*Abers, Rebecca Neaera, and Margaret E. Keck. "Mobilizing the State: The Erratic Partner in Brazil’s Participatory Water Policy." POLITICS & SOCIETY. 73.2 (2009): 289-314.<br />
  13. 13. Early Meta2010<br />Photos courtesy of the Manuelzão Project<br />
  14. 14. Meta2010 in 2010<br />2004<br />CBH-Velhasapproves the “Plano Diretor” for the basin using Meta2o10 as a base.<br /> 2007<br />The state government incorporates Meta2010 as one of its infrastructure priorities.<br />2010<br />Investment tops R$1.2 billion<br />Bioindicators<br />Fish and benthic life – even sensitive species formerly not present in the metropolitan region – are being documented moving further and further into the Meta2010 area.<br />Navigation<br />Tour companies have begun to actively study setting up shop on the Rio das Velhas.<br />Water quality<br />Shows significant improvements but has not yet reached “level II” and is not yet “fishable, swimmable, and navigable.”<br />“Meta2014?”<br />
  15. 15. Water Where You Are:<br />Serra do Gandarela<br />Source of 65% of metropolitan Belo Horizonte’s water<br />Home to primary Mata Atlântica and populations of jaguars, tapirs, ocelots, and maned wolves <br />Site of historical ruins, fossil beds 10 to 40 million years old, and springs so pure that they may be drunk untreated<br />Proposed site of Vale iron mine (“ProjetoApolo”) that will produce over 24 million tons of ore per year<br />The Dam in Santo Hipólito:<br /><ul><li>Related to the “Transposition of the São Francisco”
  16. 16. Proposed dam would flood the fertile lands surrounding Santo Hipoóito and the entire district of NossaSenhorada Gloria, including the local cachaça factory (which provides 500 jobs)
  17. 17. Area lies downstream from metropolitan BH and the state’s most heavily mined regions, making the dam reservoir a potential cesspool prone to fish-killing algae blooms
  18. 18. Dam would produce only small amounts of electricity </li></li></ul><li>Questions? Comments? Links!<br />United Nations Water for Life: http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/index.html<br />Calculate Your Water Footprint: http://www.waterfootprint.org/<br />ProjetoManuelzão: http://www.manuelzao.ufmg.br/<br />Photo courtesy of the Manuelzão Project<br />A. Corin P. de Freitas<br />R. Padre Rolim 636, no 103 - Santa Efigênia<br />Belo Horizonte – MG, 30130-090<br />BRASIL <br /><br />cfreitas@ interchange.ubc.ca<br />corin.de.freitas@gmail.com<br />Manuelzão Project <br />UFMG – Faculdade de Medicina<br />Av. Alfredo Balena, 190 - Santa Efigênia<br />Belo Horizonte – MG, 30130-100<br />BRASIL<br />  or<br />manuelzao@manuelzao.ufmg.br<br />