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When I see this photo, I recall strong feelings of some parts of my early life, i.e. up to the age of 11-12 years, or so. It is difficult to retrieve all the details of this period of childhood. The memory or the brain as such either had not developed enough to organize, sort all events, one by one and structure them in coherent series of events or there were no physical objects for every separate event that such events could be associated with. This can be also related to, that the brain was still in the process of development and therefore all events could not be easily available. Whatever the reasons were, formulation of the details of my early childhood would be limited to some separated and scattered memories.
So, as a matter of fact I do not remember everything on daily basis, as day by day events. However, I can only reflect in general terms how I and my own environments (home and family, school and free time) interacted together and with each other. This bunch of young kinds in the photo was among very few things I (the person far to the right) remember from my early childhood. As went to school all of us, we could only spend the summer holidays together and whenever we were allowed to spend sometime outside the walls of our houses. The area we were living in had no gardens and no special playing places for children, so we were left to own judgement to select among available children in our age, i.e. from the very near houses to us, one or two at most. Indeed, that worked out fairly good in my case and I do have very good reflections and memories with these bunch of young kids. My younger brother Mourad was always with us but he was the most quite of us all, he is the second to the left in the photo. The first to the left, Saeed, was our leader “the boss” and was always ready to defend all of us and could find smart ways to manage our group in difficult times, i.e. when we run in trouble as in few some cases when we behaved in “wayward” manner. Otherwise we had traditional street games, mini-football, jump rope, “hide and find”, rope competition, ……. . Later on, when I searched the group, I find him “Saeed” a polis officer in Port-Said, I was not surprised when I visited him as he managed the school, joined and graduated from the Polis High School in Cairo. The one in the middle of the photo is Abou Zead, he was like all of us ready to share his free time, in frictions-free fashion and above all easy going, as we could alway be in agreement. The one next to me “Abbas”, more darker than us, was ready to do as we did. As far as I remember after we all became friends, i.e. getting over introductory conflicts, checks and acceptance from our parents, we had very nice time and fun together. My brother Mourad which I will tell more about later on, became a high ranked military engineering officer “radar specialist” in the Egyptian Army. The other two Abou Zead and Abbas, I lost track with them and I do not know anything about them.
Follow my story, in separate parts I will uncover more and more about myself and my journey in life.
Indeed, UN-SDG can be regarded as the last call, after a series of regular and continuous calls on several regional and global levels, for meeting pressing and urgent needs for implementation of effective, practical and immediate solutions and measures of the pilling threats and degradation on earth’s environmental and climate systems.
Now the UNEP releases its recent GEO-6 Regional Assessment documents, May 2016. The Networking of “sustain-earth.com” got this information also from Hussein Abaza, an excellent Reporter on sustainability issues and Director at Centre for Sustainable Development Solutions “CSDS”, Cairo, Egypt.
A series of regional reports on the state of the planet’s health deliver the message that environmental deterioration is occurring much faster than previously thought and action is needed now to reverse the worst trends. The ‘Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments,’ published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is a compilation of six reports examining environmental issues affecting the world’s six regions: the Pan-European region, North America, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and Africa.
The release of the regional assessments coincides with the second session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), which is convening in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23-27 May 2016. The Pan-European assessment will be launched at the eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia, on 8 June 2016.
The assessments found that the regions share a range of common environmental threats, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, population growth, rapid urbanization, rising consumption levels, desertification and water scarcity, which all must be addressed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The assessments involved 1,203 scientists, hundreds of scientific institutions and more than 160 governments, and are based on scientific data and peer reviewed literature. The regional assessments will inform GEO-6, which will be released before 2018 and will provide an assessment of the state, trends and outlook of the global environment.
The GEO-6 LAC assessment notes the strong impact of emissions from agriculture in the region, including an increase in nitrous oxide emissions of about 29% between 2000 and 2010 from soils, leaching and runoff, direct emissions and animal manure, and an increase in methane emissions of about 19% due to the plethora of beef and dairy cattle. Regarding air pollution, the assessment points to particulate matter (PM) concentrations above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In addition, Andean glaciers, which provide water for millions, are shrinking. The LAC region has eliminated lead in gasoline and made headway in reducing ozone-depleting substances.
Approximately 41% of all reported natural disasters over the last two decades have occurred in the Asia and the Pacific region, according to the regional assessment. In Southeast Asia, more than one million hectares is deforested annually. Other environmental issues discussed in the report reference that: approximately 30% of the region’s population drinks water contaminated by human feces; water-related diseases and unsafe water contribute to 1.8 million deaths annually; uncontrolled dumping is a significant source of disease; and population growth, a growing middle class and urbanization have led to higher emissions, ill-managed waste and increased consumption.
In West Asia, an increase in degraded land and the spread of desertification are among the region’s most pressing challenges, as they lead to an increase in water demand, over-exploitation of groundwater resources and deteriorating water quality. In addition, conflict and displacement are having severe environmental impacts, such as heavy metals from explosive munitions and radiation from missiles leaching into the environment, and increased waste production and disease outbreaks. Almost 90% of municipal solid waste is disposed of in unlined landfill sites and is contaminating groundwater resources. The report estimates that air pollution alone caused more than 70,000 premature deaths in 2010.
In Africa, air pollution accounts for 600,000 premature deaths annually. The report also highlights that 68% of the population had clean water in 2012. In addition, inland and marine fisheries face over-exploitation from illegal, under-reported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. According to the report, around 500,000 square meters of land in Africa is being degraded by soil erosion, salinization, pollution and deforestation. African megacities, such as Cairo, Kinshasa and Lagos, have inadequate sanitation services.
In North America, environmental conditions, including air pollution, drinking water quality and well-managed protected areas, have improved due to policies, institutions, data collection and assessment and regulatory frameworks. However, aggressive hydrocarbon extraction methods can lead to increased emissions, water use and induced seismicity, while coastal and marine environments are experiencing, inter alia, ocean acidification and sea-level rise. Climate change is exacerbating the drought in California by approximately 15-20%, and Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, was directly responsible for approximately 150 deaths and US$70 billion in losses. However, mitigation efforts are having a positive impact; for example, solar deployment made up 40% of the market for new electricity generation in the US in the first half of 2015, and solar now powers 4.6 million homes. In the Arctic, warming has increased at twice the global average since 1980, and over the past twenty years, summer sea ice extent has dramatically decreased, which has, inter alia, created new expanses of open ocean, enabling more phytoplankton to bloom and alter the marine food chain.
Overall, recommendations of the assessments include, inter alia: strengthening intergovernmental coordination at the regional and sub-regional levels; improving gathering, processing and sharing data and information; enhancing sustainable consumption and production (SCP); harnessing natural capital in a way that does not damage ecosystems; implementing pollution control measures; investing in urban planning; reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and diversifying energy sources; investing in environmental accounting systems to ensure external costs are addressed; and building resilience to natural hazards and extreme climate events. [UN Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [UNEP Knowledge Repository] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Africa ] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Asia Pacific] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean ] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for North America] [ Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for West Asia] [ Full Regional Assessment for Africa ] [Full Regional Assessment for Asia Pacific] [Full Regional Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean ] [Full Regional Assessment for North America ] [Full Regional Assessment for West Asia].
Now it remains to see how these “SMART GOALS” will be further put in an effective and fast implementation agenda of actions. They are still many unclear details as what, when, how and where these goals will be dealt with in particular who will do what, how and when. Though the UN-SDG seem to be more or less specific in general terms, they need to be successful and instruments have to be put in place to measure such success as what you can not measure is does not exist and what you can not measure you can not control. Unless these goals become successful they will be gone with the wind as many other smart UN goals.
Understanding existing pressures and constrains for implementation and performance of successful sustainable policies requires tight and continuous involvement of all citizens on large-scale and long-term socio-economic policies.
Planet Earth is a complex living organism with delicate balance that makes possible the unique functioning and metabolism of all life forms on earth. Water, energy and natural resources are essential and basic components that contribute in the earth’s delicate balance. Modern neccessities and future challenges are becoming more and more clear and require from us and future generations to keep such balance in tact with nature’s own dynamic processes. Our consumption of water, energy and natural resources needs to take in consideration the nature’s own delicate balance.
Visit, share and contribute in “Sustain-earth.com” to inform and be informed on our growing needs for understanding the basic of APPLIED SUSTAINABILITY. An introduction is given at ABOUT (http://sustain-earth.com/about/).
“Listen well, it is never in our interest to control and eliminate the illegal drilling because such actions can irritate our voters leading to lose any future election” Said a tribal Shaikh from Bani Hushaish, Yemeni Parliament Member.
Wherever you go with your eyes… here or there, to the north or south, east or west of the earth you will find the water issues are managed through a set of technical, social, economic, political…etc. tools. However, this does not mean that it is a same recipe of tools or solutions applicable for every country, region, area…etc. nor all countries adopt and apply all or some of these tools when managing their water resources and uses. What is quite sure is the adoption and application extent varies from country to country based on countries demand, consciousness, will, commitment and capabilities in applying the integrated concept when managing the water resources.
Water strategies and action plans are usually long term frameworks and actions that adopt and implement various water management tools and policies. Water policies are a sectorial tool to overall orient and manage the various water issues through the implemented water strategies and action plans. Given as an example, in the soccer game the decisions on team formulation, attack and defense tactics, player’s replacement…etc. are considered as the game strategy and or plans. On the other hand, rules that specify the playing ground area, game time, number of players, fouls and penalties kicks away of implementation…etc. are considered as the game policies. Similarly, the water strategies are long term strategic plans that determine goals, objectives, approaches, measures and interventions, main players, cross cutting issues, implementing issues…etc. that should be followed and implemented, while the water policies are simply a set of general rules and frameworks that orient, adjust, and determine the implementation of the water strategies and action plans. For instance, banning the importing or exporting of a specific crop that consumes high amount of water is considered as a water policy that can affect the water situation in a country while covering an irrigated area of one hundred thousand hectare with modern irrigation systems can be considered as strategic action that can be implemented during long period of time.
Politics is a state/regime measurements and actions that contribute to the establishment and implementation of both policies and strategies in all development and governing sectors including the water sector. Politics has significant and critical impacts on the on the water policies and strategies determining the effectiveness and efficiency of respective interventions implementation and the ultimate improvements in the water situation. On the other hand, the political systems and elites can also be affected by the way water issues are handled when implementing the adopted water policies and strategies. The effect level itself, however, depends mainly on to the extent the water users in particular and citizens in general are aware of their water interests, and able to move and put pressure on the political elites in order to manage the water resources efficiently, as well as the politicians consciousness about the importance the proper water management policies and strategies. Given as a live example, the German Green Political Party has succeeded to win more seats in the region parliamentarian election in some south and north regions like the Hessen Region in spite of being classified among the small political parties in Germany. Such success was due to the smartness of the party leadership in putting the environmental issues on the top of the party agenda giving the fact that people in those regions are highly aware and concerned of their environmental issues.
Without going that far, here in Yemen many contradictions between the water management policies and other governing politics existed representing a very interesting case full of vague and questionable decisions undertaken on many water. For instance, why did Yemeni Government and the former regime choose to excessively support the agriculture expansion during the last three decades although agriculture has insignificant contribution in the national GDP????!!!
Why did Yemen issue an official decree to ban the import of fruits and vegetables in the 1980s although it has critical adverse impacts on the groundwater in many water basins in Yemen????!!!!
Was it a sheer coincidence that the state politics hurried wildly establishing hundreds of casual dams out of which many were just awarded as gifts by the former president Ali Saleh to the tribes Shaikhs????!!! According to the National Water Strategy (NWSSIP), the total number of constructed dams reached 1000 dams in 2004. Excluding Marib Dam, the annual amount of water such numerous constructed dams could store does not exceed one third of the annual ground water abstracted from Sana’a Basin. Nevertheless, many soci, economic, and environmental adverse impacts have induced by such casualty of dams’ construction. Further, what is the rationality to go with dams’ construction option in a country that has an average of 200mm/year of rainfall and 2300mm/year of potential evaporation rate…!
Another inquiry, why did the government encourage Yemeni farmers to import drilling rigs and big pumps even without paying any type of customs or taxes for a long period of time???!!! Why has the government subsidized the diesel prices during that period as well???!!! Some may justify the taken politics mentioned above as to afford the country food security. However, as everybody knows that although all unpremeditated political measurements are applied, Yemen did not reach the delusive food security the former regime has publicized; nonetheless, we annually pump more than 40% of our finite and vulnerable groundwater to irrigate Qat crops which is neither considered a kind of food nor provides hard currencies that can be used to import food…!!! Others might justify it as to obtain development, stability and wealth for rural communities, and eliminate the increasing rates of internal migration from the countryside to the urban cities which maximizes the pressure on the public services such as water supply and sanitation, roads, schools, hospitals…etc. in the urban areas. However, statistics show that internal migration rates from rural to urban areas has increased annually till it reached up to 7% in the capital city of Sana’a which became amongst the top ten cities with highest population growth worldwide. On the other hand, rural economy that has relatively improved in some basins due to the agriculture leap induced during the 1980s was just a temporary delusive improvement. For instance, economic returns of agriculture attained by depleting huge amounts of fossil groundwater in many basins were spent either on building Luxurious houses or on travelling to some Arab countries for health treatment or tourism which ultimately didn’t provide any alternative economic activity that can secure a sustainable income for the rural communities once the groundwater is totally depleted. Is it right to assume that the politics and interests of the Yemeni politicians were and might still aiming to keep the majority of the Yemeni people busy with their farming business and away from the political game and ruling system? Who knows?
Another example, why Yemeni state still fails to control some hundreds of rigs that drill thousands of illegal wells annually???!!! Is it difficult for the respective security and local authorities to follow and control them everywhere? If so, why didn’t they hold the rigs when passing by the numerous security checkpoints exist elsewhere? Or why the drilling rigs were not hold even earlier when imported and entered through the national border ports where the state has a full controlling power and authority???!!! Are those hundreds of rigs owners more powerful than the Yemeni state??? If so, what kind of power do they have so that the government is disabled to control them???!!!
The simple and obvious factor is again the regime politics and interest that do not match with the water management policies as expressed by a Shaikh from Bani Hushaish, who was elected among the Moatammar Party elites in the national parliament in 2003. When I and another colleague from NWRA Sana’a Branch had admonished him for not cooperating in eliminating the illegal wells drilling in Bani Hushaish District, the Shaikh explicitly responded to us “Listen well, frankly it is never in our interest to control and eliminate the illegal drilling because such actions can infuriate our voters leading us to lose any further election in the future”. If so, it is clearly understood, why the symphony of the illegal wells drilling is still playing till this moment.
Now, if this is the opinion and intendancy of parliament members, it is not then surprising to conclude that all unjustified erroneous politics were not taken by the former regime for the purpose of rural communities’ development and national economy promotion as announced, yet it was just to satisfy the wide base of electors who live in the rural areas so they continue to support and elect the former regime elites in every election. On the other hand, as forth assumed it was also to keep the major base of voters away from the political game and country ruling system and process by keeping them busy with delusive unsustainable agricultural development and ensuring the political stability of the ruling regime; meanwhile, ignoring the critical and non-compensational costs and values such as the vanished groundwater resources that is still vulnerable for high depletion rates on the medium and long term periods. If it wasn’t the case, why the former regime didn’t follow and adopt right tools, policies and interventions for much more realistic and sustainable water management and national economy development???? Why was the former regime highly reluctant to support proper effective and efficient water management actions and interventions rather than the limited timely fictional measurements although the respective knowledge and experiences were available at that time?
Now, what are the results? Did the former succeeded to last as it had planned? Absolutely, no. Was the propaganda-based agricultural and economic development attained? It is never happened. Could the former politics of the state sustain our finite and vulnerable groundwater resources? Regrettably, they could not. The final question now on the today regime, government, political parties and elites, can they draw and learn some lessons of the past? Can they get rid of the personal and or political interest when managing the country different development issues including water? They should answer it yet not me or you dearest readers!
Last but not least, all of us as citizens of this lovely country before being politicians or voters, water users or managers have to consider and learn from the past, act with more comprehensive and integrated insights, and start adopting realistic proper and integrated water resources planning and management policies, tools, and interventions that ensure the public interest of Yemen at first and 25 million Yemenis soci and economic sustainable development at second.
,,,Allah bless and mercy Yemen and Yemenis
MSc. Abdulkhaleq Q. Alwan
IWRM Principle Advisor at MWE
Author name: Abdulkhaleq Alwan
Speciality and expertise: IWRM
Sector/Affiliation: Water Sector
Adress: Khawlan St, Sanaa – Yemen
Type of contribution: Article
If you can not measure it, it does not exist and if you can measure it properly you would not be able to control it.
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Be part of a new future and join the ongoing changes in one of the most dynamic regions in the world where all challenges, but yet diverse and new possibilities, for socio-economic developments, co-exist.
Hear what global investors tell about investing in Egypt. The call is still opened for any to join and respond to people’s call for major changes. Yes, you can contribute in creating sustainsble societies.
Among the new plans for the socio-economic developments of Egypt a new capital “New Cairo” is planned to be established in region of the Red Sea so the pressure on the existing capital can be mitigated. Interesting enough the Red Sea region and Sinai, including the Suez Canal are becoming among the major changes and reforms in “Egypt the Future”. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=941998875850439
To know more visit also, http://m.bbc.com/news/business-31874886
Professionals in all sectors and on all levels around the world are corner stones in shaping the future on our planet; they are, also, leaders that can direct its path. However, for our fellow citizens to be safe, secure and share their responsibility the conservation and sustainable management of our collective natural resources on the earth requires innovation, engagement, transparency and full participation in “serve and get served”. With these objectives we can turn past difficulties, existing obstacles and future threats to solutions, admittance and prosperity.