The Future of Water and Humanity
International Workshop and Dialogue on Practical Solutions
Muscat, Nov 13-16th, 2019
Venue: National Museum of Oman (located at the centre of Muscat old town)
Multiple locations and regions experience a growing need of achieving rapid but also lasting solutions to the severe issues associated with “The Future of Water and Humanity”.It calls a new platform for meaningful Dialogue and collaboration, as a basis for success in the development and implementation of joint solutions to the outstanding challenges of sustainability.The international symposium to be held in Muscat on November 14 and 15 is set to bring together a range of experts and representatives of different organisations with deep involvement in tackling these issues.
As the core venue for the forum will be the National Museum of Oman located at the centre of Muscat old town. The event starts in the afternoon on November 13th with a introduction to Oman and its unique history, including by way of social organisation in managing water and the sea as prominent elements, to be displayed at a guided tour of the museum. On the last day, November 16, students from Muscat schools engage in interactive workshops highlighting solutions presented at event and how they can be diffused and put to use in the context of Oman as well as the region and wider world.
Participants at the forum will take part in the event with a view to gain further ground in promoting concrete solutions, through new models for collaboration, across national borders as well as institutional demarcation lines, in support of better, managing our joint and increasingly threatened water resources. Strong attention will be paid not merely to technical and scientific aspects, but also to the role of people in becoming part of the solution.
Future of Water and Humanity:
The severe challenges in focus for the “Future of Water and Humanity”, represent a blend of natural resource management and human behaviours. An expanding economy, fuelled by technical progress and the population explosion, goes along with massively increased resource use, but also with the rise of a “knowledge society” and smart communication tools that carry the potential to diffuse information to any corner of the world and help improve knowledge and the availability of viable solutions to outstanding issues.
Apart from saving on costs, there is the realization of scope for direct benefits from better land use and higher productivity in agriculture and food systems, along with the regeneration of rivers, lakes and wetlands, and the sustainable use of the ocean. Yet, progress is held back by poor governance, weak property rights, conflicting interests, lack of awareness among thegeneral public, and disincentives to act in support of sustainable resource use.
Water a unifying factor
Water is a common resource for humanity. Water knows no boundaries. Learning how to manage water as a source of value calls for improved organisation, locally and national as well as in regard to cross-border relations. The need to collaboration may turn water from a source of conflict to a unifying factor.
Accelerating climate change and associated challenges bring a massive need of developing and applying new solutions. It is not that inventions and opportunities for progress are lacking. Examples abound in, e.g., recycling, improved drainage systems, circular agriculture, new approaches to saline agriculture, modes for cultivating eco-food and preserving biodiversity. Other strands utilize solar, wind and hydropower for generating energy, enabling localised solutions, simple but radically transformative ways of planting trees without irrigation and holistic land-use planning, backed by the application of smart, digital communication tools and IoT (Internet of Things), for diffused learning and operations. For such possibilities to take hold, however, people on the ground cannot act as by-standards; they need to be agents, with solutions shaped by them, not for them, calling for a shifting focus in governance, management and capacity building.
Today, most citizens remain unresponsive, and governments continue to subsidize short term water usage, similar to energy consumption, without concern for the destructive and counter-vailing influence on resource allocation for the long-term. Here, cities and local communities appear as new centres of initiative. Being closer to their citizens than nation states, urban planners often assume a more proactive stance, which is underpinned by the rise of novel fora for sharing of experience and for engaging in new initiatives, within increasingly dynamic networks of collaboration between actors at urban and regional levels.
Meanwhile, efforts are made to apply “Nature-Based Solutions” (NBS) as a means to overcome fragmentation and local degradation. Again, IoT platforms and smart sensors bring new means for creating awareness, communication, and community engagement.
The event engages a spectrum of researchers, innovators, policymakers, public authorities,international organisations, businesses, and practitioners, linking Oman, the Middle East and the wider region, Europe, and the world.
The agenda takes stock of common problems, coupled with an inventory of actual solutions.Combined with analysis and insight, why there may be failure in adopting and/or diffusing them, the focus is on action and implementation, i.e., how new solutions to be introduced, diffused and put to use, including what can be done to underpin and speed this process. Special attention will be paid to the importance of cross-border collaboration and its linkages to the diffusion of information, learning, and human behaviors.In this sense, the question of how to link consideration to the broader aspects of sustainability, associated with governance and humanity, to the issues of water management, forms a central element of the event. Much of the focus is on exploring new opportunities in water management and furthering the scope for their realization.