Hydrodiplomacy, water for peace

with Eric Orsennawriter.

Hydrodiplomacy, we started to hear this term recently. Despite this, access to water is a major problem, a source of conflict between many countries of the world. What exactly is this hydrodiplomacy? Is France worried? Are our water resources at risk?

Hydrodiplomacy, where does it come from?

We owe this term Fadi Comair, a Lebanese engineer, Honorary President of the Network of Mediterranean Basin Organizations and Director General of Hydraulic Resources in Lebanon. Therefore, he coined the term since it was adopted by UNESCO and Eric Orsenna, who was a guest on this program in an interview with Liberation in 2017. Fadi Comair explains his first idea as follows: “To promote a culture of dialogue and equitable sharing of water among riparian countries and to denigrate how some countries use water for hegemonic, military and financial purposes. » This topic has become so prominent in public discussions that it has become a plot Quantum of solace where James Bond must thwart the Machiavellian plans of a villain who wants to take over the world’s water resources.

Eric Orsenna explains hydrodiplomacy in these terms: “Is he trying to agree on the amount of water, or is he waging a water war?” There are international as well as national tensions on each of the rivers, as there are civil water wars especially in our country. This question is absolutely fundamental in our time. »

Water is the heart of life and of all future battles

Geopolitical issues related to water have always existed, but they are becoming increasingly important : “This is happening, for example, between Egypt and Ethiopia and the Renaissance Dam, at the same time in the same country. We can take the example of landlocked Colorado, because there is a battle between different users, on one side there is a Venice and Las Vegas in the middle of the desert, and on the other side, where the almond growers of Los Angeles demand the product. requires a lot of water. Water is truly the heart of life, it unites all elements from the smallest to the largest, and is also the site of all present and probably future battles. »

Desalinize the oceans?

Oceans make up 70% of the planet’s surface. However, we don’t have water, or we fear we don’tr. Isn’t the solution to desalinate the oceans? “This creates two problems. To remove the salts, water must be poured into the membranes under great pressure. It presses so hard that it requires monumental energy. To solve the water problem, we must first solve the energy problem. The countries that desalinate the most are the countries that have the most energy, for example the Gulf countries are desert countries that have no other solution. The second question is knowing what we do with the salt. When you remove the salts, there are huge currents along the coast, and if you put them together, they will go up into the air and cause many consequences. »

The same amount of water, but unevenly distributed

Eric Orsenna is also an economist and therefore interested in water growth: “For example, all the rivers are in trouble. Not because they lack water, but because they alternate between floods and droughts. With the trickle down theory, we thought growth would be evenly distributed, and well not. Nature teaches us that areas of the world with abundant water will have more and less in areas with less water. The world has the same amount of water, but it is unevenly distributed. » Eric Orsenna warns in a very special place in Guinea, West Africa, in the Fouta-Djalon massif, where there is a large forest that has been destroyed by land exploitation: “If we don’t have these forests like in the Amazon, there will be no evapotranspiration, so there will be no more sources for these rivers. Imagine what would happen if there was even less water in Senegal, the River Gambia, or the already extremely strained Niger River. »

Faulty water networks

For Eric Orsenna: “We paid so little attention to water that we did not restore the networks that take water to our taps. These are very old networks with 25-35% leakageetc. The solution to the water shortage is to restore this network, which means investing, but it will not be profitable. This work will hinder everyone, the price of water will increase. Our generation bears the responsibility of the debts of the past. Not only financial debts, but also equipment debts, because we thought we would never run out of this important resource. We see that this is both local, because there are conflicts over water in France, and internationally. Hydrodiplomacy also means avoiding civil wars. »

Australian example

There is one country that is an example of water management abroad, Australia. This great continent should inspire France with its experiences: “Australia’s economic development is based on two water-intensive activities: agriculture and mining. It takes a lot of water to extract ore from the Ganges, and the Australians have developed incredible systems. For example, when you own land, you also have the right to water. If you decide it’s less profitable to produce, you can immediately put that water back on the market. Another example is that in Singapore, toilet water is treated directly so that it can be reused in taps. »

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9:10 – Guest of Sonia Devillers

20 min

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