World Water Day is a Carbon & Conservation Story Worth Telling

World Water Day is a Carbon & Conservation Story Worth Telling

Water footprint, like carbon footprint, is by no means a perfect measure.  But its usefulness is in educating the general public and broadening their view about the impact their choices and behaviour have on a finite resource like water. People can effect change over time, as we are beginning to see with the concept of carbon footprint, says Dan McCarthy, president and chief executive officer of Black & Veatch’s global water business. Singapore is going all out to promote World Water Day, coinciding with World Storytelling Day, being celebrated on 20 March this year.

Small steps to shrink Singapore’s water footprint

Dan McCarthy in The Straits Times (8 January 2011):

THE world’s environment is under pressure. Climate change and the increasing demand for resources are placing life on our planet at risk. High-level debates at Cancun are one thing, but can each of us make a difference the next time we order chicken rice, or say, beef noodles?

The answer is probably yes. The choice of what you eat can make an impression on what is described as your ‘water footprint’.

We are already familiar with the concept of ‘carbon footprint’. Singaporeans increasingly buy environmentally friendly products such as energy-saving light bulbs, which lower our carbon footprint as well as save us money.

But how conscious are we about conserving our limited water supply? Singaporeans, as a people, are arguably more conscious than most.

With relatively little land to collect rainwater and no natural aquifers, Singapore’s founding fathers strove hard for water independence. Their consciousness of water as a precious resource rippled through society. Monthly water utility statements show graphs indicating the volume of water consumed, so households can take action to conserve water.

The Clean and Green Singapore campaign is another example. Speaking at the launch of the campaign last November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong encouraged citizens and businesses to defend their environment as they would defend their country.

Every day, each Singaporean uses on average 155 litres of water, and there are plans in place to cut this figure to 147 litres by 2020. These figures include the water we drink, as well as other domestic indirect uses, from bathing to washing our clothes. But it does not reflect our total water footprint, including what is termed virtual (or embedded) water.

Most of the water that the world uses is in fact consumed by industries and agriculture, not by households. The concepts of water footprint and virtual water acknowledge our direct use, but also help us begin to understand our indirect consumption of water. Most of the water we consume indirectly goes into making the goods we use, rather than being physically contained in the final products.

For example, the production of 1kg of wheat consumes about 1,300 litres of water, but the production of 1kg of beef requires about 15,500 litres of water. In comparison, the water footprint of chicken is only about 3,900 litres a kg of meat.

The virtual water content of manufactured products as well as some services can also be measured. On average, it takes about 400,000 litres of water to produce a typical passenger car, while it has been estimated that one Google search would consume one-tenth of a teaspoon of water.

Water footprint, like carbon footprint, is by no means a perfect measure. It glosses over significant issues such as the availability of water at the site of its consumption, and how this should be reflected in the price a consumer eventually pays for a product.

Still, the value of the concept lies in its usefulness in educating the general public and broadening their view about the impact their choices and behaviour have on a finite resource like water. Armed with this knowledge, people can effect change over time, as we are beginning to see with the concept of carbon footprint.

So should you become a vegetarian or limit your consumption of red meat? This is not a matter I would preach about, but I would argue that people should be aware of how their choices can have an impact on the environment. What I would encourage are simple steps to encourage wise water use.

Limiting our time taking a shower, washing a full load of clothes, and even less obvious methods such as not littering our drains will translate into wasting less of our precious water resource. In terms of indirect use, there is little agricultural production in Singapore, but businesses can play their part by implementing water efficiency management plans.

If we start small, we can work towards solving broader water scarcity issues and ultimately reducing our water footprint.

The writer is president and chief executive officer of Black & Veatch’s global water business.

Source:  www.wildsingaporenews.blogspot.com

World Storytelling Day and World Water Day in Singapore 20 March 2011

To coincide with World Storytelling Day and World Water Day (being celebrated on 20 March in Singapore), Roger Jenkins – storyteller, actor, director and writer – is organising storytelling performance called WATER WOR(L)DS, supported by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and being promoted by Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA).

Water Wor(l)ds 

8pm   NTUC Auditorium
8th floor, NTUC Centre, 1 Marina Boulevard 
Admission by Donation All proceeds to be collected by the Singapore Environment Council  for an ASEAN potable water project
Join Roger, Chuah Ai Lin, Dolly Leow, and young storytellers from CHIJ Toa Payoh Secondary ELDDS and Jurong West Primary as they share a fascinating collection of traditional folktales from around the world.  Gillian Tan will also sing songs on the theme of water.  All performers are volunteering their services.

This beautiful Auditorium has a stunning view of the new Marina Bay Reservoir which at night is truly spectacular!  It seats 550 but to make sure of your seats please email Roger Jenkins – rogerstoryteller@gmail.com – to reserve them.  Do note that, to ensure accountability of fund collection, your donation will only be taken at the door under SEC supervision.  

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

The United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the World Day for Water by adopting a resolution.This world day for water was to be observed starting in 1993, in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development contained in chapter 18 (Fresh Water Resources) of Agenda 21.

States were invited to devote the Day to implement the UN recommendations and set up concrete activities as deemed appropriate in the national context.

The Subcommittee welcomes the assistance offered by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre to contribute to an information network centre in support of the observance of the Day by Governments, as required.

Source: www.worldwaterday.org and www.rogerjenkins.com.sg

One Response to “World Water Day is a Carbon & Conservation Story Worth Telling”

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