Playing with water
by China Water Risk 21 October, 2019
Playing with water: The problem with water is you can’t have too much or too little of it, you have to “play” with it to get it just right. Too much of it and you are looking at the extreme rainfall in Japan after Typhoon Hagibis; too little and you are looking at Chennai. Many cities are not yet resilient, so surely we should game out scenarios to ensure water secure futures.
Enter “Basin Winner”, a river basin management board game where stakeholders can now game out scenarios, understand trade-offs and balance development to ensure everybody gets just the right amount of water. Hear from the game’s co-developer Zhiqiang Chen from Greencity on why there is a bright future ahead in playing such games.
Even policymakers from different countries have started gaming out their water futures. It’s important because less than a third of transboundary river basins have joint management water bodies. Here, the brand new Blue Peace Index (BPI) by the Economist Intelligence Unit can help assess current and best practices across 24 countries – its Matus Samel and Beth Warne expand.
What about cities? Sydney is making every drop of its water count. Not only are they cleaning stormwater, they are also reusing it thanks to advanced biofiltration tech. Hear more from Star Water’s CEO Christopher Rochfort as he shares success stories on how tech can make Sydney healthier.
Closer to home, Hong Kong is dealing with too much water. As we have been saying, HK will face a wetter future. With flood retention lakes and river parks coming online, the Drainage Services Department’s senior engineer Patrick Chan shows they are working to ensure flood resilience with climate change.
Too little water is also a big problem. 55mn people are impacted by drought every year and half of the world’s thermal power (which needs water to generate) is produced in areas with a high risk of drought. As WWF’s Juliane Vatter warns, “if climate change were a shark, water would be its teeth” so where are businesses on adapting? Check out our interview with her on WWF’s latest report.
Clearly businesses must play their part; after all what they do can be game changers. Whilst green is growing up as we found in the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum, we don’t think it’s enough – from consumer education to business awareness on new innovations, there are gaps to be filled.
Evidently we are trying to play with water to get it right but it pays to remember that climate change is changing the rules of the game. We’ve entered a new risk landscape – the latest IPCC warns that worst-case sea level projections are higher than thought, while Goldman Sachs says cities will bear the brunt of climate change (see more in reports section).
But from the various conferences we have spoken at in the past month on Greater Bay Area resilience, from the HKGFA Annual Forum to Environmental Finance’s Green Bonds Asia, it is clear that companies and financial institutions are further ahead in their carbon transition scenarios than gaming out their water risk scenarios. This is extremely short-sighted as the magnitude of water and water-related impacts are far greater than those of carbon. It will not only affect energy-related sectors but every sector and person.
For doubters look no further than PG&E’s self-imposed power cut in Northern California, including San Francisco Bay. The reason being no water and too dry conditions meant a high risk of wildfires. Or look at Japan cleaning up after Typhoon Hagibis – their worst one in 60 years. As we covered in our last newsletter, these risks will only increase and we need to spend more time playing with water – so start gaming out your scenarios now.
On a positive note, for those who have followed our push on toxic rare earths, Apple has announced it will use recycled rare earth metals in the iPhone’s Taptic Engine, so good progress!
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