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Sustainability Seminar delivered on February 23, 2011 by UC Irvine Professor David Feldman, "Who Controls Water? Conflict, Cooperation, and "Soft" Power". Water is our planet's most precious resource. It is required by every living thing, yet a huge proportion of the world's population struggles to access it. Agriculture,...
Sustainability Seminar delivered on February 23, 2011 by UC Irvine Professor David Feldman, "Who Controls Water? Conflict, Cooperation, and "Soft" Power". Water is our planet's most precious resource. It is required by every living thing, yet a huge proportion of the world's population struggles to access it. Agriculture, aquaculture, industry, and energy depend on it - yet its adequacy and safety engender conflict. This conflict is likely to intensify as threats to freshwater abundance and quality, including climate change, urbanization, new forms of pollution, and privatization of control, continue to grow. Can we manage freshwater sensibly, and with proper regard for the welfare of future generations and other species? Must the cost of potable water become prohibitively expensive for the poor, especially when supplies are privatized? Do technological innovations expand supply or do they carry hidden risks? This talk shows how control of freshwater operates at different levels, from individual watersheds near cities to large river basins whose water - when diverted - is contested by entire countries. Nations can work together to embrace multiple water needs while also establishing fair, consistent criteria to promote available supply with less pollution through the exercise of soft power - the ability to advance reform through convincing others to emulate certain values, policies, and cultural attitudes that are embedded in certain prescribed measures such as local sustainability, adaptation to climate change, and the embracing of decentralized, participatory governance.