World Water Day reminds us that water, food, energy and sustainability are all interconnected.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published March 20, 2014
Saturday, March 22 is World Water Day. This year's United Nations theme is water and energy. We need water to make energy and use energy to have access to potable water. In 2010 the United Nation's Human Rights Council declared access to water was a basic human right.
Currently there are seven billion people inhabiting Mother Earth. According the United Nations, 1.1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water. 1.3 billion people live without electricity. 1.02 billion people go hungry.
It makes sense to add food to the water=energy equation. The reason is simple; we use water and energy to produce, transport, prepare, cook and even consume food. We also use energy and water to dispose of the waste, clean cooking utensils, dishes, cutlery and wash napkins.
As our global population expands, the need for water, energy and food increases. That's why it's imperative to find truly sustainable means of managing our finite water sources, producing safe energy and cultivating nutritious food.
Ms. Barlow fights tirelessly against the commodification of the world's fresh water by corporations. Maude counteracted the endless advertising and helped me realize that my tap water is superior to bottled water when all factors are taken into account.
Should the general public come to accept the commodification of water then we are all in danger. When water is no longer considered a human right then we are all at risk of not being able to pay the going market price when there is always someone who is willing and able to pay more.
Society and the environment need to trump corporate greed. Community based water policies that are transparent will ensure a sustainable source of water while still enabling long range economic growth.
Vandana Shiva is an East Indian born feminist and environmentalist who earned her Master's at the University of Guelph and her PhD at the University of Western Ontario. Ms. Shiva founded Navdanya or 'Nine Seeds' over 20 years ago with the mandate, "to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, and to promote organic farming and fair trade." This has become a national movement in India.
Thanks to Vandana I have no grass. My front and backyards are gardens planted with heritage and open pollinated native species. The genetic diversity is astounding. Much to my neighbours chagrin, most of the plants in my front yard are edible.
I learned about lamb's lettuce from Shiva. This 'weed' which grows between planted crops is a vital source of vitamin A and calories in India. In Burlington, Ontario it makes a wonderful addition to an every day salad and it's free! I don't worry about watering my gardens because the plants are acclimatized and survive on rain alone.
Thanks to Shiva I also learned about the downside of genetically modified seeds. The use of these seeds keeps farmers going back to the source, usually Monsanto, for their seeds rather than being able to save their seeds as Canadian farmers have done since time immemorial. Farmers become mere serfs to the multinational corporations that think they are entitled to patent life.
But the real danger lays in the fact that Monsanto, and corporations like it, will only release seeds for sale that they deem profitable. The loss of genetic diversity puts all of us at risk of blight like the one experienced during the Irish potato famine.
Researching genetically modified foods led me to the annual Guelph Organic Conference held the last weekend in January. It was also at this time that I discovered community supported and community sustained farms.
These hard-working farmers believe in producing and delivering food in an environmentally responsible way. I received weekly deliveries to my home in Toronto and later, in Burlington. After 20 years this is still the best way to source locally produced organic foods.
Both Barlow and Shiva have had a powerful impact on my life and the lives of my children. I know that we are celebrating World Water Day, but by including seeds and sustainable farming into the mix we are acknowledging the important impact that water, energy and food has on our daily lives and letting the corporate world know that we will protect these basic human rights.
On Saturday take the time to watch one of my favourite videos: Vandana Shiva and Maude Barlow on the Rights of Mother Earth by Democracy Now! Both Barlow and Shiva argue that Mother Earth has rights. They also discuss the interconnectedness of water, energy and food. This 43-minute video is the ideal way to learn more about water, energy, seeds, land rights and ultimately living in harmony with Nature and Mother Earth.
This is a very nice segue way to Earth Hour on Saturday, March 29, as well as 2014 Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22. Take the time to celebrate our accomplishments while planning for improvements by hosting a meal featuring locally produced organic foods along with locally sourced tap water. Happy World Water Day!
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