Activist to speak on water crisis

Clean water activist Maude Barlow will speak Tuesday about the stress of global water resources. It will be the final University Lectures event of the semester.

Barlow’s lecture, ‘The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water,’ will be held in Hendricks Chapel at 7:30 p.m. and will address how the misuse of water may be contributing to global warming, according to a Syracuse University News Services release published March 29.

Globally, water has become the new gold, said Esther Gray, senior administrator for academic affairs, in an email. Access to clean water can be an instigator of war, Gray said.

The world population is expected to increase another 40 to 50 percent in the next 50 years and will result in an increased demand for water, according to the World Water Council’s website. Though the crisis may appear irrelevant to some, more than one out of six people globally — amounting to more than 1.1 billion people — lack access to clean water, according to the website.

In the United States, some states are fortunate enough to have an abundance of accessible water, Gray said. However, Barlow claims California only has about 20 years of clean water left, according to the release.

Barlow was appointed as the United Nations’ first senior adviser on water issues in 2008, according to the release. She is also chair of the board of the nonprofit organization Food and Water Watch and co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, an international civil society movement that strives to protect the world’s fresh water from trade and privatization, according to the project’s website.

Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, was instrumental in the United Nations’ decision to recognize the human right to water and sanitation in July 2010, said Farhana Sultana, assistant professor of geography at SU, in an email.

Though there are many water-abundant areas in the United States, there are pollution issues as well as water stress, Sultana said. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources, according to the World Water Council’s website.

Sultana organized the March 2010 international conference ‘The Right to Water.’ The conference acted as a platform for students, scholars, practitioners and activists to discuss the issue over two days. Barlow was unable to attend the conference, Sultana said.

It is imperative people begin to understand the water crisis, Sultana said. The crisis can only be addressed if all stakeholders, including governments and individuals, participate in a global movement, Sultana said.

‘Water is about power and control, and we need to critically engage in understanding what it means to have safe water or not,’ Sultana said.

Sultana said she hopes the lecture will motivate research and action from students. She plans to moderate a student discussion with Barlow. Sultana’s students have read Barlow’s books and watched her documentaries in preparation.

Katelynn Moreau, a freshman advertising major, was surprised to hear the United States is also experiencing the effects of the water crisis. She said the thought of not having clean water was frightening.

‘I’d like to learn more about this because it impacts everyone,’ Moreau said. ‘It’s an important topic that I don’t really know a lot about.’





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