Crisis and Opportunity

29 June 2010                    

The Joint Opening Plenary for Singapore International Water Week and the World Cities Summit, was a rather sombre affair; heavily laden with words of caution.Several distinguished speakers who spoke at the Opening Plenary, emphasised the point that mankind is faced with not one but two major challenges: climate change and the lack of water security.
The joint Opening Plenary of SIWW and the World Cities Summit in progress

The joint Opening Plenary of SIWW and the World Cities Summit in progress

The speakers then took turns to highlight some of the more pressing issues humanity is faced with. Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, brought to light the shocking statistic that, “1 billion people still live in slums around the world.”

She elaborated on the need for continued sustainable urbanisation in order to provide basic housing for those who are relegated to slums.

Dr Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and executive secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), spoke of the “grow now and clean up later” attitude of many developing nations which she pointed out is not a good idea.

After that, she went on to point out the merits of promoting more sustainable lifestyles, efficient energy use and the use of aqua friendly buildings.

During the Opening Plenary Dr Sadayuki Sakakibara, Chairman and CEO of Toray Industries Inc., spoke of the establishment of Global Water Recycle and Reuse System Association in Japan and the Japanese’s government new growth strategies and it’s commitment to supporting water related projects.

Dr Sakakibara elaborated on the need to create innovative technology to combat global warming and water issues. He gave an example of how the use of carbon fibre in the construction of cars and aeroplanes can reduce carbon dioxide emissions as they are much lighter than the materials traditionally used in such production.

While, the situation does seem grim, Dr Han Seung Soo, the Ex Prime Minister of South Korea said, “the Chinese word for crisis also means opportunity.” Symbolising that the major challenges ahead for mankind may be a crisis for us all, but is also a time of great opportunity as well.

By Naveen K

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