Of word salads and firebrands on the UN waterfront

So, while the U.K. Met Office (presumably still inspired by their enhanced status as a “jewel in the crown, of British and global science”) has been unable to master the technology required to correct an unsupportable headline as part of their effort to “bridge the gap between climate scientists and the public”, an organization called UN Water has has been moving at the speed of lightning.

Well, for a UN bureaucracy … it’s the speed of lightning!

You see, If you didn’t know that UN Water exists, you might have missed the chance of a lifetime (which began on April 29 and, sadly, ended on May 5) to “contribute to the online discussion” of:

The final draft of the Post-2015 Water Thematic Consultation report


Look at that, folks! We’ve been moved from the pre- and post-Rio+20 “The Future We Want” to “The World We Want”. Amazing, eh?!

Sorry, I haven’t had a chance to take look at this “final draft”. But, I have seen the:

Recognition of Outcomes, High Level Forum –World Water Day The Hague, 22 March, 2013

Ah, yes, World Water Day … I know we did get some advance notice of the “International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013”, but World Water Day on March 22?


Who knew, eh?! Of course, I should have made a note of it in my calendar for this year … when I missed it last year …. and (truth be told) every year since its inception in 1993:

World Water Day – 22 March

World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Needless to say, this particular child of the United Nations comes with its very own scary stories (and calls for “innovative financial mechanisms”). As the March 22, 2013 “Recognition of Outcomes – High Level Forum” (pdf) duly notes (all emphases in quoted text throughout this post are mine -hro):

This process has allowed for an inclusive and bottom-up approach that encouraged all stakeholders to help construct a new sustainable development framework that is measurable, realistic and inter-generational that will promote an equitable and sustainable use of water for growth and development. People from 185 Member States, and 8 non-Member States/territories, have participated through social media and meetings at the national, regional and global levels. It engaged a wide range of stakeholders from national authorities, civil society, youth and the private sector in the discussion on the role of water in a future sustainable development framework. A synthesis report, that will soon be available for public comment, provides a comprehensive view of the outcomes of the consultation.

So, let’s see … it was announced on March 22 that this “comprehensive view” would soon be available for “public comment”. Yet – as I had noted above – “soon” turned out to be well over a month later. And the window of opportunity for this “public comment” was a grand total of seven (count ’em 7) days – and possibly less depending on when on April 29 this inclusive … probably more apt to call it an exclusive window of opportunity opened, and when on May 5 the window closed.

What a process, eh?! But I digress … Back to the highlights of the High Level Forum’s “Recognition of Outcomes” document which included:

Although water challenges are growing incrementally, complacency is not an option. Political recognition and policy action are urgently needed. Significant water-related challenges remain. Water pollution continues to grow and more than 80% of used water is discharged to nature untreated. This is not only a threat to the environment, economic development and human health, but also a waste of valuable resources

Feeding a world of nine billion people in 2050 will require more water for food. The demands for energy will more than double and, at the same time, extreme events, droughts and floods will also increase.


Higher rates of urbanization will mean a growing demand for drinking water […]

Hang on a minute! Do people in an urban environment require more drinking water than those in a rural setting?! Surely not! Oh, well … who am I to argue with these nameless authorities, eh?! Here are some excerpts from their “Conclusions”:

  • Water is a key determinant in all aspects of social, economic and environmental development …
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Water Resources Management and Wastewater Management and Water Quality are all indispensable elements for building a water-secure world
  • Water security will be of growing importance …
  • Governments play a key role in securing water for competing demands; however the quest for a water-secure world is a joint responsibility and can only be achieved through water cooperation at local, national, regional and global level and through partnerships with a multitude of stakeholders …
  • Water-related capacity development […] will be fundamental in the realization and implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda
  • Innovative, inclusive and sustainable financing mechanisms for water need to be implemented

And here are some excerpts from their vision for “The Way Forward”:

There must be ambitious goals and targets which take account of unfinished business and the emerging and future challenges. These goals must inspire and create incentives for a change in behaviour to manage and allocate resources in a sustainable way whose benefits reach every person without discrimination

You’ll be pleased to know that there’s no “overwhelming scientific consensus”, but there was an:

overwhelming participation of stakeholders

which along with their own “deliberations” led this illustrious group to “recognise” that:

water is a prerequisite in the future development framework in order to attain vital economic, equity, employment, health, educational, agriculture/food and energy benefits and for maintaining ecosystems services and supporting resilience to climate change

Not only that, but they have “committed” themselves to:

bringing these messages to the attention of relevant fora, such as the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

But wait, there’s more that we missed on March 22. There was a Press Release (here come the scary stories and more!):

‘Water Security’: Experts propose a UN definition on which much depends

World Water Day 2013: International year of water cooperation

Amid changing weather and water patterns worldwide and forecasts of more severe transformations to come, calls have been growing for the UN Security Council to include water issues on its agenda.

And there’s rising international support for adopting “universal water security” as one of the Sustainable Development Goals — a set of mid-term global objectives being formulated to succeed the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, agreed by world leaders in 2000 for achievement by 2015.

But what does “water security” mean? The absence of a definition undermines progress in international forums. Marking World Water Day today at UN Headquarters in New York, a common working definition was published, forged by UN and international experts from around the world.

UN-Water, the United Nations’ inter-agency coordination mechanism for all water-related issues, says water security should be defined as:

“The capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of and acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.”

Setting aside the abysmal record of the UN Security Council in even fulfilling its current mandate, isn’t it good to know that it’s only taken twenty years for this group of “experts” to propose a definition?! But, I guess they’re ahead of the “interagency coordination mechanism” for all climate and/or biodiversity-related issues.

You see, last I heard, this particular group (in the run-up to Rio+20) had not even agreed on a definition of “green economy” (let alone the “blue economy“)

But wait! There’s more! This Press Release continues:

“Security has now come to mean human security and its achievement through development. Water fits within this broader definition of security — embracing political, health, economic, personal, food, energy, environmental and other concerns — and acts as a central link between them.”

“Common understanding has central importance in international discussions and water security can’t continue to have a variety of meanings,” says Zafar Adeel, co-chair of the UN-Water Task Force on Water Security and Director of the United Nations University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

“A shared and working definition is needed to get everyone on the same page. Only then can we collectively start to write a coherent response to the challenges.”

“Access to safe water and sanitation is now a fundamental human right. But water management also requires realistic ways of recovering delivery costs. An agreed definition of water security is vitally important in that context.”

Many observers have identified water as an “urgent security issue,” a group that last year included both former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the InterAction Council, an association of 37 former heads of state and government co-chaired by the Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada, and H.E. Dr. Franz Vranitzky, former Chancellor of Austria.

According to Mr. Chrétien: “Nothing is more fundamental to life than water. Few issues, therefore, have the potential to create friction more than the management of water shared across international borders, especially now with serious scarcity problems in prospect.”

While he may on rare occasion have written in the manner noted above, anyone who’s ever heard Jean Chretien speak, knows damn well that he does not talk that way! So if this is a “direct quote”, someone’s been putting word salads in his mouth!

But that aside, I would have to say that carbon dioxide is equally fundamental to life – as are other gases and elements. Well, at least it was until the UN – in its infinite “expert” wisdom – decided to embark on an utterly wasteful and harmful path of demonization.

Just imagine if these “experts” had given the matter some thought – prior to foisting on the world the useless Kyoto protocol and the concomitant obsession with the purported (and far from proven) perils of CO2 which has resulted in costly and inefficient wind turbines and solar panels blighting our landscapes and shamefully increasing the cost of food and energy, which are also fundamental to life.

Had the bureaucrats and politicians (not to mention the “climate scientists”) acted more wisely – and in the public interest, rather than that of firebrands such as Al Gore, David Suzuki, the proliferation of virtually uncountable (and unaccountable) NGOs and the BIG green machine that forged the now corrupted and collapsing UN and/or European Union inspired “innovative financial mechanisms” such as “emissions trading schemes” – we could have invested all those wasted years and billion$ in securing the “fundamental human right” to safe water and sanitation for all.

No demonizing, “definitions” – or redefining – necessary.


A few footnotes of interest …

The contact on the above March 22 Press Release is listed as Terry Collins. Collins was, evidently, the proud author as can be seen from his company website.

Collins’ company also put out the Press Release noted by Donna Laframboise, yesterday, in which they had crafted a rather one-sided story.

But speaking of firebrands, word salads and the UN water front …

About midway through Collins’ March 22 Press Release, (which was presumably widely distributed via EurekAlert) one finds <scary stories alert>:

In 2011, for example, driven largely by water and food shortages linked to drought in the Horn of Africa, almost 185,000 Somalis fled to neighbouring countries. In Sudan, violence broke out in March 2012 in the Jamam refugee camp where large numbers of people faced serious water scarcity. And in South Sudan, entire communities were forced to leave due to scarce water resources as a result of conflict in 2012.

Disasters and conflicts can also affect the physical infrastructure needed to access water, sanitation and hygiene services (water services infrastructure, treatment plants, drainage systems, dams, irrigation channels, etc.), reducing levels of water security.

Water insecurity, therefore, leads to cascading political, social, economic and environmental consequences, the brief says. (For a larger history of water-related conflicts, documented by The Pacific Institute: http://worldwater.org/conflict.html)

But if you follow the link, you’ll see that there’s a typo in the name: it should read the Pacific Institute. Ring any bells?! It should. As the about page indicates, Worldwater.org is:

A project of the Pacific Institute, […]

which just happens to be the personal fiefdom of Peter Gleick. Gleick’s claim to fame includes writing a review of a book he has not read and even more unethically and notoriously fraudulently obtaining confidential details from another non-profit organization – and promulgating this material, along with an obviously forged word salad, to some of his friends and media contacts.

Small world, eh?!

13 thoughts on “Of word salads and firebrands on the UN waterfront

  1. In a sane world this report would be used as a shibboleth. Everyone in public administration or public education would be asked to give an assessment on a scale of one to ten wrt to the language it is written in. Anyone who gave it a score greater than 2 should be sacked and forbidden any form of public sector employment.

  2. Pingback: These items caught my eye – 7 May 2013 | grumpydenier

  3. The whole water thing is a canard. There are problems in selected regions that have managed to overpopulate themselves. Two thirds of freshwater is used for irrigation, but only 20% of arable land is irrigated. The solution has been ‘virtual water’ in the form of imported food. The issue is that these poor arid regions cannot afford the imports. There is an entire chapter in Gaias Limits that goes into this and food in considerable detail.

    • Hi, Rud … and welcome :-)

      The whole water thing is a canard

      Why am I not surprised to learn this?! Seems to me that if the UN really was concerned about “water issues”, they could – and should – have made it a priority twenty years ago. If not sooner. Instead, they chose to put it on the back-burner.

      But … come to think of it, if there’s one thing at which the UN does excel, it is the manufacture and perpetuation of … canards.

      Perhaps a more apt acronym for this ever-increasing maze of mediocrity and mendacity would be DU [Ducks Unlimited ;-)]

      On the “water” front, however, there’s an interesting and disturbing observation (and link to another) from “Paul in Sweden” in response to a comment of mine at Bishop Hill (OK, so I was shamelessly plugging this post!) [para reformatted for ease of reading -hro] …

      If there is going to be a focus on water I imagine the French are going to be in the hot seat not Global Warming. The strong arm tactics of the French companies Vivendi-Generale des eaux and Suez-Lyonnaise des eaux. They now control nearly 40% of the world market, each serving, and billing, more than 110m people, Vivendi in 100 countries, Lyonnaise in 130.

      They owe their profits to the deregulation of trade and the complicity of international institutions and national governments. The market is all the more lucrative because the water services in nearly 85% of the world’s cities are run by public or state companies. The two French giants and their subsidiaries have been signing highly remunerative privatisation contracts on the water market for 15 years.

      The local loss of control over water charges goes hand in hand with price increases that deny the poor access not only to the water service but also to clear information about minimum health standards.

      In past years I have heard reports of poor villagers who once had free access to water denied water because of the privatization of water.

      Rebellion Against Water Monopoly

    • So are you against private provision of water? I can’t really tell. Your friends on Bishop Hill are generally anti-government and pro free market, but you seem to be siding with people attacking French water companies. Do you favour Government supply of water?

      Hilary: This commenter has developed a posting pattern that is known for its irrelevant diversions and inaccurate sweeping generalizations, both of which are evident in the above comment. If he is capable of discussing a matter with respect and/or any measure of intellectual honesty, I have yet to see any demonstration of this on his part.

      Consequently, I don’t intend to waste my time responding to his comment(s) and I would hope that in my little corner of the blogosphere, other readers would choose to do likewise. DNFTT, as they say.

    • Hey Hillary, for someone who gets upset about CBC ‘censoring’ your posts, [snip -hro]

      Hilary: Listen, kiddo … I’m very sorry that on your planet, whatever education you might have received has obviously failed to teach you:

      a) Any manners

      b) The meaning of “[…] I don’t intend to waste my time responding to [your] comment(s) […]”

      c) That there’s a BIG difference between my posts on my own blog and any censored comment I might have made on a post by Canada’s National Broadcaster – which no one has shown to be in violation of their submission guidelines. If you choose to think that there’s some sort of equivalence here, then that’s your problem, not mine!

      I gave you the benefit of the doubt after your first “comment” – and an opportunity to clean up your act – by placing you on moderation. You chose not to.

      This third “comment” of yours is no better. In fact, the word-count in your off-topic drivel couched in sneer ‘n smear word salads has escalated from 43 to 92 to 140.

      So that’s three strikes … You’re out! Time to go find another playground to pollute with your silly thread-derailing games.

      My blog, my rules. You don’t like ’em? Tough nuggies, kid!

  4. What an obvious marriage….Gleick and the UN.
    I’m not surprised of the link between these two very disgusting forces of evil.
    Peter and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

  5. Hilary, thanks yet again for working through more of the UN’s famously difficult-to-digest verbiage. Looking at the World Water Day 2013 factsheets, I was curious about the one that features climate change:

    At the top, it says “Between 1991 and 2000 over 665,000 people died in 2,557 natural disasters of which 90% were water related events”. I wondered where the 665,000 number came from and why, in 2013, the sheet mentions a range of years from 1991 but only going up to 2000.

    To cut a long story short, I went down the usual citations rabbit hole (where reports cite previous reports, and those reports cite even earlier reports, etc., etc.), ending up at the IFRC’s World Disasters Report of 2001 (which explains why the range ends at 2000):

    Click to access 21400_WDR2001.pdf

    This has the 665,000 figure (665,598 to be precise) in a table on page 183. Basically these are the deaths from all natural disasters – if you subtract earthquakes and volcanic eruptions you get the very approximate remaining 90% of events which are “water related”.

    But I also noticed that this report got its information from “EM-DAT, CRED, University of Louvain, Belgium” and was led to this website:

    It’s a fascinating site and well worth a visit – EM DAT, the International Disaster Database. There is quite a bit of information there, and I haven’t explored it fully yet. But if you click on Trends and then go to Natural Disasters, you will find some very interesting graphs. For instance, see “Number of people reported killed by natural disasters 1900-2011”, bearing in mind that since the mid to late 1970s we’re supposed to have been in the throes of dangerous climate change. Look at where the trend is going and look at where it was in the 1920s!

    The Disaster Profiles pages are also interesting, re numbers killed in droughts, floods and storms in the mid-20th century, compared to recent decades.

    • Thanks, Alex … and thanks for posting the results of your adventures down the rabbit-holes. And the trends on those graphs are fascinating … kinda makes one wonder how they intend to … uh … hide the declines, eh?!

  6. you guys rock! I am glad to have stumbled on your blog Hilary. don’t forget to save hard copies as eventually they will pull the pages you link to. great work, thanks!

  7. Have I mentioned the fact that Gleick doesn’t deny the accusation that he was the forger, but denies altering any of the documents HI sent him? Sure, a handful of commentators argue it was someone else who forged it, but Gleick has never endorsed that idea?

    The above are, AFAIK, facts, which is why I now routinely tweet that he forged the document. Nobody, including Gleick, has asked me to stop. I see no need to pussyfoot around with ultra-agnosticism about it. Sure, maybe he didn’t—in the sense that maybe Africa doesn’t exist. (I haven’t been there myself.)

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