Things kicked into high gear today at the Sixth World Water Forum. I encourage you to peruse the WWW site for videos, reports, etc. I cannot possibly give you a broad perspective on what's happening; these reports reflect my biases, or more precisely, my commitments - the sessions I must attend because I am the moderator or the rapporteur (a wonderful, erudite-sounding word essentially meaning 'note-taker').
Oh yeah - here's a photo of tonight's dinner, courtesy of the wonderful people at Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (see photo of Gigi Posadas and her supervisor, Julia du Lac).
1) There are always things to criticize at an event this large and complicated. It's easy to say that World Water Week in Stockholm is far more organized and orchestrated. It had better be; SIWI stages it every year in the same place so they have it down pat. At the WWF there is an atmosphere of 'controlled chaos' that I find somewhat refreshing,as long as it stays 'controlled'.
2) My organization, AWRA, is heavily involved with 6WWF. Our Executive Vice President, Ken Reid, sits on the Board of Governors of the World Water Council (based in Marseille) and Ari Michelsen is largely responsible for assembling all the IWRM sessions. So I have a perspective that some may find less than neutral.
3) It is great to see less of an emphasis on 'paper'. At the WWF many organizations unveil new publications. At my first WWF - 3WWF in Kyoto (2003) - I was appalled at the amount of glossy reports than were piled up at many booths. So-called 'green' organizations were distributing an incredible amount of paper. Here there is far less of that - CDs, flash drives, and URLs are the order of the day.
4) This is a great place to browse. I am like a kid in a candy store. So much stuff.
5) I love it when I hear someone declare that IWRM 'doesn't work'. That's like saying that management doesn't work. Of course it doesn't work if it's not done right. Duhhh....
6) There are some people who do not like anything they didn't develop (see #5).
7) There are some people who claim credit for virtually anything worthwhile.
8) There is still sexism at some of the countries' and corporate exhibits (I will leave it to your imagination which countries are the biggest offenders). Comely young women in short dresses and spike heels are less prevalent with each passing WWF, but they are still here and I suspect they always will be. No, it's not like an auto show.
Started out this morning intending to grab a quick breakfast at 6:40 AM and then head for the venue. Two and a half hours later I left the breakfast area after encountering and engaging a succession of friends and colleagues and getting an inside look at things from Frenchman Charles-Louis. That's what makes these events, IMHO. Talk. Insight. Solving the world's problems.
We had an interesting discussion about the US concept of individual water rights at which many people roll their eyes. I related the recent Texas Supreme Court decision affirming the ownership of water beneath a person's land. That raised some eyebrows.
After that I ran to the venue to chair one of 18 roundtables in an IWRM session organized by the Dutch. I announced at my table that we were going to discuss groundwater and that anyone not interested in that topic was free to leave; two people departed. The instructions were needlessly complicated but what happened at my table was that we ignored much of the detail and just had a good discussion about groundwater and IWRM. J.P. Lobo Ferreira and Allyson
Beall, who were to speak at my session later that day, contributed greatly as did two gentlemen from India and one from China. AWRA friend and colleague Jerry Sehlke, an adaptive management fiend, dropped by and joined in.One of the interesting facets was that each table had a BlackBerry-like device that was hooked into Twitter so each table could Tweet and have their comments displayed on a screen. OMG! What next?
Our discussion spilled over into lunch. J.P. entertained us with his stories and joke.
My Groundwater and IWRM session began at 5 PM and ran until 7 PM. The presentations from J.P. Lobo Ferreira, Alice Aureli, Todd Jarvis, and Allyson Beall went very well. The latter two broached the subject of nonrenewable groundwater, hardly the purview of IWRM but something we nonetheless must broach. It's not going away anytime soon. I will post the presentations when I receive them alll.
Afterwards UNESCO IHP-WWAP launched their publication, Groundwater and Global Change: Trends, Opportunities, and Challenges. Looks good!
I got a list of 45 people who want to keep informed about IWRM and groundwater. I will start a listserv or perhaps a WWW site/Google + site. We'll see.
Here are the wonderful people - Sabine, Gigi and Nicholas - from Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur who fed us 'dinner' (see photo above) tonight and provided plenty of their world famous vin rosé to wash down the desserts.
They took very good care of us at an evening reception at the French pavilion.
Great seeing friend Joe Troester, whom I first met over a decade ago through Lifewater International. Joe gave up a position with the USGS; he and his family are now missionaries in the Central African Republic. And he is using his water expertise there. Amazing guy!
I also saw another person I first me through Lifewater - Lee Addams, who is now at McKinsey.
By the way, I posted a report from the 3WWF (Kyoto - 2003) and links to my blog posts from 5WWF (Istanbul - 2009). Go here.
Time to go now!
"Dans le royaume des aveugles les borgnes sont rois." - French proverb
(Translation: "In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed are kings.")