Tag Archives: water

Health Bar:  Ensuring Vitality for Sustainable Development, Dr. Robert Zuber

8 Jul


We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.  Kurt Vonnegut

Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Wendell Berry

A sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. Pema Chödrön

What drains your spirit drains your body. What fuels your spirit fuels your body. Caroline Myss

One of the things that we have noticed (with gratitude) over this past year about the UN policy agenda is the emphasis on health—not only on leveling access to health care but on indicators and implications of health for both our sustainable development and peace and security responsibilities.

As the ECOSOC High Level Political Forum prepares to convene on Monday, governments and NGOs will convene in large numbers from all directions to review progress on some of the most important Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – from clean water access and sustainable energy to reversing desertification and biodiversity loss, and sustainable production and consumption.  Through plenary reviews of national SDG progress and a remarkable series of policy-focused side events, the HLPF will provide the opportunity for all of us to assess the degree to which what is arguably the most comprehensive and urgent promise the UN has ever made to future generations is being properly honored.

Recent weeks have seen UN discussions on a range of health-implicated policies, from efforts to end tuberculosis to the expanding global crisis of access to safe drinking water in an era characterized by both diminishing supply and growing privatization. In the past few days alone, the UN has seen interesting events and negotiations focused on universalized health care, the role of “cooperatives” in increasing healthy food security, and an “interactive hearing” on Thursday in preparation for the third High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Non-Communicable Diseases.

At first glance the “non-communicable” disease focus might seem a bit trivial stacked up against Ebola, tuberculosis and a host of other pandemics – potential and actual – made more frightening by the increasing inefficacy of our antibiotics.  But we know that there are numerous and deadly health threats that we don’t “catch” from others but which we routinely impose on ourselves and our neighbors – the diabetes tied in large measure to our processed diets and immobility; the toxic substances that collect in women’s mammary glands and create breast cancer emergencies; the impediments to clean water access in our “privatizing planet” that sicken and suppress children and their caregivers; the substance addictions that ruin relationships and drain the spirit of resolve.  The environmental burdens we impose in the name of “progress,” the “lifestyle” choices we make in what are often futile efforts to overcome fear, anxiety and isolation – this and more has led increasingly to the ironic circumstance of longer lives characterized by only episodic vitality and enthusiasm for living.

Indeed, one of the takeaways from the interactive hearing was the degree to which “health” in our time is largely a matter of overcoming our battered spirit, our psyches filled with anxiety and remorse, our political climates of recrimination and repression, our propensity for inflicting violence that solves few problems but ensures lasting distress.  We are living through a moment where our already besieged spirits are under fresh assault.  And few medical professionals are now prepared to deny the impact that our collectively impaired mental health is having on our physical vigor.  Those seemingly growing numbers (including of our children) who suffer from depression or trauma are less likely to practically cherish their physical well-being.  Where the web of health is damaged, all aspects of vitality seem to be called into question.

Another of the many take-aways from the hearing had to do with the role of health professionals and private sector entities tasked with providing what we ostensibly require to overcome health threats – the doctors and nurses who bind wounds and diagnose deeper sickness, and the pharmaceuticals that provide us with the chemicals we need to overcome (but not necessarily prevent) health impediments.  As one might predict, there was considerable and sometimes heated discussion about the imprecise and shifting lines connecting regulation and innovation, connecting the need for companies to turn a profit and the needs of communities for life-saving generics, connecting  investments in high-tech therapies with (more human-effective) investments in prevention.   And of course the lines connecting the need for “evidence-based” health commitments with the fact that, as more than one expert noted, the available evidence in some instances is pointing in diverse directions.

There are clearly some trust issues to overcome amidst all of this uncertain balancing.  In one of the sessions, a professor from Rwanda challenged the sometimes facile articulation within and beyond the UN of the “public-private partnership model,” noting that while better “quality control” over agricultural and pharmaceutical production is important, the current preoccupation in some quarters with diets and other “lifestyle” issues is likely an over-reach. Such a preoccupation, she noted, tends to just “put the blame on the people.”  What she called for in addition was a greater commitment to transparency and broad public participation regarding government health policy, to lift the veil on the mostly off-camera “public-private” dealings that can saddle communities with medicines they don’t particularly need at prices they can’t afford.

If “leaving no one behind” is to be something more than the tag line for this HLPF, we must consider what keeps us vital in these challenging times, what make us not only able to benefit from sustainable development but allows us to participate fully and energetically in building a more sustainable world.  In this second and critical dimension of SDG implementation, the role of good health cannot be over-stated.  It is truly one of the blessings of life to be able to early rise from sleep and feel healthy enough to help take on some of the world’s problems, perhaps even ease a few burdens for others.  If the SDGs are to achieve their full promise (and there is really no planetary alternative to doing so), the vitality of the world’s peoples – our personal connectivity, “humane ideas,” uncontaminated environments and other indicators of well-being — must be better assured.

Health is a core dimension of sustainable development that the UN seems well-suited to address, and we strongly encourage its continued focus.  In its absence, woes of body and mind will continue to sideline too many of the skills, passions, ideas and connections needed to ensure a more peaceful and sustainable future.

Storm Front:  The UN Stakes a Claim on Fresh Water Access, Dr. Robert Zuber 

25 Mar


Image By Daan Roosegaarde

The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water. Sigmund Freud

The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit. Saint Teresa of Avila

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Toni Morrison

There were several events of considerable potential consequence for the well-being of the world at the UN over this past week.

The General Assembly continued its own process of revitalization with suggestions for eliminating lengthy statements and redundant resolutions as well as doing more to ensure that resolutions once passed actually alter circumstances on the ground consistent with the promises embedded in our resolution language.

In another room, delegations prepared for the upcoming review conference on the UN mechanism (UNPoA) intended to help states and other stakeholders halt the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The sessions featured some spirited reflections on the importance of cooperative activities to control the diversion of and illegal access to weapons (and the ammunition which renders them lethal) by unauthorized actors.

And in the Security Council, the current president (Netherlands) convened a series of important briefings on violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the still-dire humanitarian challenges in the Lake Chad Basin of Africa, and on the many linkages between food insecurity and conflict, including the millions forced to flee the “fire” of violence into the “frying pan” of deprivation and anxiety.

But for us the week’s highlight was back in the General Assembly, the launch by the presidents of the GA and Tajikistan of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, complemented by a World Water Day demonstration of the extraordinary Waterlicht by Daan Roosegaarde. This hopeful sequence of policy and artistic events nevertheless called out a series of difficult realities:  the huge number of children and others for whom sipping water is an invitation to immobilizing disease; the vast quantities of water that are utilized by industries whose products we also take for granted, such as meat and automobile production; the high percentage of rainwater that flows into gutters or remains untreated for other productive or even essential uses; the growing number of natural disasters, including sea rise, that are related to water melted and then churned up by an angry climate.

None of this is news to people who are paying attention.  We have been warned about drought and sea level rise, but sometimes simply forget how little safe drinking water remains and how much of what does remain is located in rapidly-melting polar regions.   We have collectively “soiled our own waterbeds,” polluting essential waterways through sub-standard sanitation or in the name of “progress” and then ignoring the petitions of those left to cope with the significant health and well-being consequences of our collective neglect.  And we in the policy community sometimes bury awareness of our own blessing, in this case (as noted by the GA president) the blessing of working in a building with abundant drinking fountains and even toilets using water of higher quality than much of the “developed” world, let alone the billions who take their lives in their hands to fetch water for families or quench an intolerable thirst at the nearest open pipe.

In thinking about this post for much of the week, I recalled some of the petty inconveniences of my life that have been associated with water – the times on a sports field when I claimed to be “dying of thirst;” the times when my “precious” schedule was thwarted by late-winter snow and ice; the times when fishing expeditions or other leisure were postponed by churnings seas; the times when my “need” for bottled water on long overseas trips resulted in spare suitcases full of plastic to recycle back home.

But beyond my pettiness are echoes of the profound:  the access needs of so many, of course, but also the degree to which water dominates our conscious metaphors and unconscious longings, in part because our water connectivity resonates so deeply.  Our art, our poetry, our religion all invoke images of water that can bring us together as a people, help us to explore our human condition and its limitations, certainly to cleanse our bodies and even purify our souls.   It is remarkable to consider how our common human journey has been impacted, inspired, humbled and challenged by what water is and represents. As India noted during the launch of the decade, water access has often been more important than armaments “in the rise and fall of kingdoms.”

And yet in this and so many other areas of life, we have learned not to ask too many questions; we aren’t curious enough about the impacts and consequences of our water and other resource choices, in part because curiosity so often beats a path to responsibility.  When we refuse to inquire, we might have fewer worries at least in the short term; we might not feel so compelled to divert our course, to veer around the barely visible iceberg.  Moreover, the incurious often (quite curiously) claim to have more answers than they have any right to profess, a claim secured in large measure through their stoic determination to deny the relevant questions.

But if water is to become that place, as delegates from Vietnam, Ghana and elsewhere suggested this week, where competition must come to yield to cooperation; then hard questions and relevant actions must stay fixed in our minds and prominent in our monthly planners.  For as our damaged climate is shifting locations of water scarcity and relative abundance; as the toxicity of our waterways sickens children and shortens the lifespans of the rural poor; as this archetypal resource become more scarce with greater numbers of hands and mouths reaching out to secure some portion, then impediments to water-related cooperation may well become fierce.  We are in for a potentially rough ride and, as with so many other current challenges, a ride of our own choosing.

Many years ago I wrote a poem called The Skater, about a man who glided blithely across the frozen water without a care about the dangers to his own well-being that lurked just below the surface, ice that seemed firm but was actually punctuated by thin spots to which he was resolutely inattentive and that threated to engulf his arrogance.

After all these years, we continue to skate on thin ice.  But we don’t need to fall through.

As this water decade unfolds, and as some of the initial enthusiasm from the launch threatens to dissipate, we must resolve to keep our focus on saving and enhancing the fresh water that is left: planting more trees along waterways, finding new uses for recycled water, constructing catchments that can prevent urban rainfall from being washed away to sea, using fewer of the industrial and agricultural products that over-utilize and/or pollute so much of our dwindling fresh water supplies.  As more than one activist noted during this week’s sessions, water health and access are compelling tasks for now, not yet another responsibility to be passed along to the young.

All available evidence here at the UN suggests that our human journey is now impeded by unprecedented levels of aquatic peril. If we fail to heed this call, if we refuse to share our best cooperative energies and ask the hard questions, if we don’t do more to help our precious water “get back to where it was,” the last memory of our collective sojourn on this planet might well be a deep and agonizing thirst.


Water Logged:  Maintaining Water Threats on the UN’s Collective Radar, Dr. Robert Zuber

26 Mar

Empty Chamber

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.  Leonardo da Vinci

Time is short and the water is rising.  Raymond Carver

Earlier this week, I agreed to contribute to an informal project the theme of which has long informed our larger work but not dominated our attention for some time:  the “state of play” in NGO relations with one another and especially with the issues and resources of the UN system.

Key to this effort, of course, will be the willingness of other NGOs to join us in what we trust will be an honest process of assessment.   The assumption of this community often is that our deficits – where they exist at all — are about our resources, not our energy or discernment.  We have attempted to bureaucratize this work but not taken account of the emotional toll it takes on all of us, inside the UN but in especially in diverse communities; not only because of the injustices and abuses we constantly engage, but also because of glacial pace at which meaningful change occurs. We do this work because we can and because we must; but we also want to be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we did all we could to reverse levels of global threat.

Time indeed is short; and more than the waters are rising.

As with the UN itself, we in the NGO world spend much time branding the things we’ve done while ignoring those many things left undone, the questions we’ve misplaced, the policy connections we’ve refused to draw, the voices we have all-too-intentionally muted, the doors of innovation and reform we have simply refused to walk through.

The photo at the top of this post, taken by one of our longtime mentors in this work, could well be the starting point for an honest assessmen of our practices and priorities.  The photo was taken in the Trusteeship Council chamber in which the president of the General Assembly was hosting a system-wide dialogue on water-related goals and targets within the Sustainable Development Goals.

The photo shows the top (NGO) section completely empty.  There were a few water activists (bless them) in our row of seats below that section, but the blue seats were, for most of the day, completely and utterly vacant.

Granted it was an unusually busy week at the UN, with the Commission on the Status of Women and its focus on economic empowerment; two other important General Assembly dialogues on oceans (SDG 14) and climate (SDG 13); Security Council ministerial events on conflict in South Sudan and the protection of Cultural Heritage from terrorist trafficking; a special event to recall the moral darkness of the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and preparations for Monday’s opening of a conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.   While we were directly engaged with these and other events this week, we do understand that there are times at the UN when our metaphorical logs simply get saturated, when the volume of issues, options and injustices simply overwhelms our responsibility to be in all the rooms where our skills and attentiveness are needed.

But this particular GA session was about access to water, our most indispensable and (now) threatened resource, an issue that is as cross-cutting as the gender discussions that were happening in rooms below us, as grave an impediment to peace and security as the machinations of ISIL, as potentially existential a threat to our common survival as our most powerful weapons and damaged climate.  As our largest sources of planetary fresh water melt into the sea; as what remains of our domestic water supplies become ever-more subject to corporate hijacking and cross-border struggle; as water inequalities become even more pronounced than those involving personal incomes; as scarce coastal fresh water is contaminated, more and more, by climate-induced rising sea levels; the threats to agriculture, to public health, to security, to life itself continue to grow.

You might think that a conversation on such matters would have warranted a bit more attention, certainly from the communities that have formed around the UN to promote gender justice, sustainable development or international peace and security.   The photo leading this post tells a somewhat different tale.

Fortunately, the diplomats seemed to have a handle on at least some of the urgencies at hand.  For his part, PGA Thomson emphasized the implications of our current water crisis for all three core UN policy pillars.  The UN Secretary-General’s water Envoy made his own strong case for why water deficits must be understood as primary peace and security concerns.  The event’s co-chair, Ambassador Bogyay of Hungary reminded delegates that “acting now on water is a matter of human dignity, justice and survival.”  Both Brazil and the European Union specifically highlighted the gendered dimensions of our water policy, citing the degree to which water access burdens excessively impact the health, nutrition and safety of women most often responsible for water gathering tasks.  And the Holy See, ever blunt, made clear that “unresolved water issues are a likely cause of future war.”

Other experts and delegations highlighted the dramatic impacts of water in our evolving, climate-damaged reality: severe drought in some areas such as Somalia; severe flooding in others such as in Peru; both posing grave challenges to the health and food security of families and communities.  In response, Slovenia called on more effective “early warning” to help us anticipate water-related disasters.  Vietnam, Kazakhstan and other states urged greater regional and international cooperation and, in some instances, more robust forms of water governance to help states head off what Guatemala called “tragedies from water misuse.”   For his part, PGA Thomson linked all measures for such water governance to ongoing reviews of the overall effectiveness of the UN Development system.

To our mind, the event left dangling some important considerations related to the funding of capacity support as well as the most cost-effective structures to keep states fully focused on their collaborative water challenges.  Moreover, we agree with Cuba that protection of water resources would more effectively be grasped as an integral part of a more generalized responsibility to “protect the full richness of nature,” including our forests, oceans and wildlife.

But the urgency of our expanding water crisis – including its gendered, peace and security dimensions – thankfully very much survived the morning.   As Ambassador Bogyay reminded the gathering, “there is no life without water.”  Thus, failure to cooperate on water “is simply not an option.”  Hopefully such cooperation will not struggle to fruition in conference rooms with vast empty seats symptomatic of the insufficient attention of the UN’s NGO community.

(Desperately Seeking) Health Without Safe Water: A Reflection by Leah Caudell-Feagan

5 Aug

Editor’s Note:  The following (with very slight modifications) was written by Leah Caudell-Feagan currrently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. I came across this Blog the morning after the UN adopted the outcome document which recommends a new and ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals to Heads of State who will gather at the UN in September.   One of those goals (#6) is expressly devoted to achieving universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030.  Diplomats could hardly make a better case for such a commitment than Leah has here.

Health Without Safe Water

It simply can’t exist.

This is a fact that we all know. A woman from Gambia walked in the Paris marathon this year to show the lengths to which some people in the world have to go to obtain potable water. Matt Damon and other celebrities star in videos gone viral that try to shock us into understanding how crucial water is, and how big of a problem it is for so many.

A lack of water is a global issue, affecting too many people worldwide, though celebrities, activists, and normal citizens alike understand this problem mostly in a theoretical sense. I also had some awareness of this problem, even to the extent that I felt guilty when I took showers that were luxuriously long, or when I left the tap running while brushing my teeth. However, it was not until my Peace Corps service that I truly began to understand how critical water is to health.

After becoming intimately acquainted with life sans potable water, I can tell you from personal experience that a lack of water makes life harder in many ways, but none more taxing than losing control over your health. During my Peace Corps service I have constantly gone back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs because it has become relevant for me in ways I never imagined it would.


For the first time in my life, I became stuck in the first tier, not being able to climb past physiological needs to general safety. Maslow said it well–without water, there is no security of body or health. Following that truth, without security of body and health it becomes increasingly difficult to find footholds in the higher, more complicated needs and aspirations. Such a lack negatively impacts your esteem, and halts your ability to find time and energy for creativity and those things that truly make life feel exciting and stimulating. In simpler terms, if you are stuck in your house having diarrhea every 30 minutes, investing time in your friendships, feeling great about yourself, and thinking of ways to develop yourself and rise out of conditions of poverty all become pretty daunting if not completely impossible.

I realize that I am absolutely oversimplifying a complicated thought experiment and issue. I am speaking from what I have seen and my personal experiences of living without water and struggling with my health. My immune system and I were never the best of friends, and I’m not saying that I was the healthiest person before making a home in OjedaHowever, after multiple amoebas, Chinkungunya, more UTIs that I can count, multiple bacterial infections, pink eye, and a skin rash that despite being seen by doctors 4 different times still has no name, I definitely think that I can prove correlation between the lack of safe water and the health decline I experienced during my service. And those health issues don’t include the digestive irregularity that becomes a baseline for PCVs, the food poisoning that attacks frequently, and viruses that take over the community every few months. As my flight back to the states approaches, people keep asking me what I am most excited for. Before they can even finish asking the question I always blurt out “TO BE HEALTHY!”. What I’ve realized recently is that what I really am most excited for is water. Beautiful, running water that has no creatures swimming in it. Filtered water that needs only to be appreciated.

Living without water means the house is not clean. It means that the plates you eat off of and the food that is prepared are not as clean as they should be. It means that no matter how hard you try, you physically are not clean, because even if you go to the river twice a day to bathe, you are bathing with animals and the hoards of community members who are there beside you.  A lack of water means that even the most basic steps to staying healthy become impossible. Washing your hands is one of the surest ways to protect yourself against illness. I know this better than anyone here–I teach it. However, when I have one bucket of water to last me today and possibly tomorrow too, washing hands becomes another thing in the long list of activities to prioritize.

Health is a human right, and water is one as well. These shouldn’t be things that anyone in this world has to prioritize around or worry so much about.

My mom is constantly telling me about the guilt that she feels for having water when I, and all of my community members in the Dominican Republic, do not.. I definitely do not want anyone reading this to feel guilty. But she also tells me how grateful she is for every glass of water she fills up out of the tap to drink, and how much she appreciates the water that pours out of the shower heads and taps all over our house. That- the appreciation and gratitude- is what I want you to feel. I appreciate all of the people all over the world who are working towards ensuring that all human beings have access to water and all of those who donate their time, money and energy to this cause. And when I am eventually back in the land of free flowing, filtered water, I am positive that I will never again fail to feel grateful.

Women’s Security amidst Resource Scarcity

19 Sep

This past summer, Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict (GAPW) introduced a program initiative to explore and address gendered security questions integral to the UN thematic nexus of Food, Water, Energy and Climate.

Our approach will look most directly at the multiple challenges of water access and quality, and their impact on rural women. Our policy involvement at the UN has stressed the evolving relationship of resource scarcity as a major contributing factor to armed violence.  As is so often the case, scarcity of supplies, restrictions on access, and the violence that increasingly erupts from such conditions disproportionately impact women’s lives in a multitude of ways. This program will speak to the growing concerns regarding the effective and inclusive governance of water while identifying the potential for conflict caused by water stresses – specifically related to access, quality and a lack of participation in water-related policy.

In the first half of 2015 UN member states will have set an agenda which will then determine local and national policy interventions and activities on climate and development. Climate change negotiations related to the Conference of the Parties  (COP) 20 will transition to COP 21, and the Millennium Development Goals will formally transition to the Sustainable Development goals, most likely finalized at the 70th United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. All of global civil society will be on hand and will be ready to encourage and support governments as they adopt and implement their development and climate commitments.

On a local level NGOs will define, underscore and help promote the security measures needed to ensure SDG accountability. As Bhumika Mucchala has suggested, a universal model of accountable security must accompany the effective realization of SDGs. During the first half of 2015 GAPW will share security-related perspectives with diplomatic and global civil society actors to ensure the effective realization of SDG goals. GAPW is also committed to ensuring that agreed targets of water and food security are assessed by gendered data indicators necessary for ensuring participation and preserving peace. In all of this work, we will remain gender-aware, context- sensitive, and rights-based.

In partnership with other NGOs we seek ways to minimize risk while safeguarding conditions of sustainable development access. For example, the often-perilous journey women face in water collection and overcoming water inaccessibility heightens levels of vulnerability to exploitation and abuse by unscrupulous traffickers, smugglers and employers. We seek to ensure that new implementation models for Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture and Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, will fully examine the security needs that can help ensure access and prevent water-related armed conflict and violence against women.

As we approach the Climate Change Summit (CCS) of 2015, where member states will seek to “advance climate change action and ambition,” UNSG Ban Ki-Moon has invited member states to “bring bold announcements and actions to the summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will.” As a means to build global governance and climate diplomacy, the CCS 2015 will be a great opportunity for member states to pledge their support in a detailed, optimistic, and implementable manner. Deliberations of a “new climate economy” can raise the level of discourse, but can also change the narrative of geopolitics in ways that are welcome. While thinking about resources and conflict prevention with respect to climate change I pose three questions to member states attending CCS 2015: (1) What kind of development-related climate models are most likely to create fiscal dependencies in states? (2) Which models of sustainability are best able to ensure social stability and prevent conflict? (3) In which ways has women’s participation in water and other resource policies been enhanced to help ensure access and prevent conflict?

As CCS approaches, GAPW respectfully encourages member states to look closely at the impacts of water stresses on their societies. Indeed, the alarming rate of water stresses worldwide – related to sanitation, dam construction, sludge and other pollutants, and more — has resulted in and been exacerbated by local and state conflicts. Agribusinesses and other industries demand large quantities of existing freshwater, reducing water tables and increasing access challenges. Water, like any other resource essential to human life, represents not just a fundamental human need, but also a pivotal matter in the preservation of state and international security. In an Inter-Press Service article about water’s use as a weapon in war, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon comments, “Preventing people’s access to safe water is a denial of a fundamental human right [and the] deliberate targeting of civilians and depriving them of essential supplies is a clear breach of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

Water stresses clearly create heightened vulnerability and liability for less developed countries. One major issue faced by many small island, least developed and post-conflict states is the question of how these states can be asked to respond effectively to the SDGs when the resources used to tackle any particular issue are constrained by financial, water and other deficiencies. Many have argued that the lack of equitable assistance, whether financial, infrastructure related or strategic will invariably cause new sets of constraints. At the Climate Change Summit governments will have the opportunity to cite their own specific impediments to the fulfillment of SDG obligations and also share suggestions for remediation.

Climate health and its many implications is a direct by-product of our policy and consumer choices. Our climate “footprint” is large and growing, and showcases our successes and failures. As global leaders and a large numbers of global citizens gather in New York to discuss our climate future, the time has come to stop thinking only about risk mitigation and shift to a concern for risk elimination.  We are simply running out of time to save what’s left and make that accessible to all in a fair and participatory manner.

Sulekha Prasad, WPS Fellow