Water and sustainability
So as we look towards the future, can we imagine what might our relationship with water be?
Image by Glyn Baker, creative commons
We know we need to improve things, if we want to continue our relationship with water in a healthy way, but is it even possible for everyone in the world to have enough water in the long term? Globally, our use of water has grown twice as fast in the last century, as our population and over 2 billion people are already living in areas where water is under stress.
But actually, yes! It is possible to have enough water for everyone, if we manage how we use water better across the whole water cycle. The UN water goals look at all the most important areas for improving water use and link them up with the entire water cycle.
Is there enough?
Many of these water improvements are also affected by climate change. More severe and more frequent droughts and flooding are already happening and this is likely to get worse.
However, there is good news too! If we can shift to a more sustainable way of using water and if water resources are used with care and consideration for our interconnected world, this will actually reduce the pace of climate change as well as ensure the planet has enough water for all of us. Sustainable agriculture is one of the most important ways to do this. In fact, roughly 70% of our water use is for agricultural purposes!
What does ‘sustainable’ actually mean?
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (UN World Commission on Environment and Development)
What is climate change?
What about the future?
As part of the Water is Attracted to Water project, we are working in collaboration with WATERAGRI, a new EU funded research project, trialling methods for improving the efficiency and sustainability of water use in agriculture.
We hope that by bringing artists, scientists and engineers together and creating events and workshops for the public, we can find ways to connect people with the research happening right now to build a better relationship with water for the future.
Copyright Glyn Baker, licensed for reuse under Creative Commons
What is WATERAGRI working on?
One of the most exciting areas of their research is into creating wetlands and integrating them into agricultural land. This means that the nutrients in the soil and the rain that falls will be retained in the soil or will run off into ponds and wetlands so it can be reused on the land. Not only that, it creates new wetland ecosystems which support wildlife; it reduces reliance on fertilisers; and it prevents the run off of nitrates into watercourses.
Professor Miklas Scholz, the co-ordinator of the project is performing in our theatre show and we have created a dance move in the Water Molecule Dance especially for WATERAGRI, to celebrate the water cycle, to celebrate sustainable agriculture and to celebrate the water travelling up through the stems and into the crops.
You can learn the Water Molecule Dance in our workshops and we'll be posting a couple of little videos with instructions soon. Find out more here.
Image by Evgenia Bourzoukou
'WATERAGRI aims to re-introduce and enhance sustainable solutions for water retention and nutrient recycling to enable agricultural production that can sustain growing populations and cope with present and future climate change challenges. We will develop traditional drainage and irrigation solutions and re-introduce nature-based solutions such as integrated constructed wetlands, bio-inspired drainage systems and sustainable flood retention basins in the agricultural landscape, leading to better retention of both water and nutrients.' WATERAGRI
Resources we love
Here are some great places to learn more about the water cycle and water resources for the future
‘Amazon’s Invisible Flying Rivers’
This short film introduces the water cycle in Latin America, how the extraordinary power of evapo-transpiration, cloud formation and precipitation carries water across the continent, sustaining crops and life across several countries
Climate for Kids
This is a great resource (for any age!) if you want to learn more about climate change, water, energy, and life on earth: CLIMATE KIDS NASA
Soil not Oil
A coalition who ‘educate, connect and empower people to fight climate change by adopting agroecological practices and restoring ecosystems’ (Soil not Oil). Also if you fancy a book, read Soil not Oil by Vandana Shiva.
Read about their research as it develops over the coming years https://wateragri.eu/
Learn more about the human relationship with water today: https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/
‘Water is a precondition for human existence and for the sustainability of the planet.’
Copyright Svetlana Makarova, licensed under Creative Commons