PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Water has a value greater than just for cooking, consuming and cleaning. It's the lifeblood of civilization, and unfortunately, has become more scarce than ever before.
This was the picture painted by scientists and water experts at Pace University’s third Summit on Resilience, which was created to develop problem-solving strategies that address local, national and global water challenges.
“This summit was devoted to discussing one of the looming crises of the century: the challenges and conflicts surrounding water issues," said Dyson College Dean Dr. Nira Herrmann. "As an academic institution, we are proud to provide a setting where thought leaders have the opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge, bring new ideas forward, and develop potential solutions for the critical challenges we face.”
More than 100 local business leaders, policy makers, college professors and students were in attendance.
Dr. Peter Gleick, president emeritus and chief scientist of the Pacific Institute , discussed a variety of topics, including the right to water, global water-related conflicts and the challenges ahead for a new administration in regards to water policy and climate change. “We are in transition to the ‘third age of water’ – the sustainable use of water,” said Gleick. “Part of our challenge is redesigning our institutions. We need more sustainable water management and a national water policy."
In recent years, water has become a fundamental part of international diplomacy. Presenters explained how many parts of the world rely upon American innovation to bring assistance to communities lacking drinkable water. Domestically, American water issues increasingly resemble the global water crisis, and suffer from inequitable distribution, contamination, drought and more.
“There are more than 700 million people worldwide without access to clean water,” said Gleick. “In 2010, the United Nations declared a legal human right to water, but we have failed to meet the basic needs of water for every human on the planet.”
The summit's panelists included Lye Lin Heng, director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law; Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center at Columbia University; and Richard L. Ottinger, dean emeritus and co-director of the Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies at Pace's Elisabeth Haub School of Law.
“It is very important to have good governance and good leaders to initiate change,” said Heng. “Citizens all must play a role. We must inform government if we are not happy.”
For complete videos of the event, click here.