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🗣️ "Resilience Is More Than A Buzzword"


Photo by Wolf Schram / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guests: Jason Morrison | President | Pacific Institute
Heather Cooley | Director of Research | Pacific Institute
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:34] JM: “The story of water at COP26 is a little bit of two sides of the same coin. On one level, it certainly is getting increased attention and discourse among the delegates here as compared to past years. […] But if you're following the news coming out of COP right now, almost all of it is still around net zero, the carbon reduction commitments and the climate mitigation side of the equation. So still a ways to go before it's fully integrated into the policy discourse. But big steps forward as compared to previous years.”

[4:52] HC: “[Water resilience] is rising to the fore because there's growing recognition that climate change is water change and these changes are not in the distant future. They're here and they're now. The changes are also happening much faster than many expected and they're going to intensify. So, I think for all of those reasons, water resilience, and the need for resilience is really starting to resonate and starting to land with more and more communities around the world.”

[7:58] JM: “We've done a lot of work on water since the beginning of the organization's founding in 1987. And there is link between water and climate, including very early work from our founder, […] who was modeling what snowpack effects would happen in the Sierra Nevada as a result of climate change. But when we went through a process a few years ago, based on our understanding of how water systems are being impacted by climate change, and realized that the transformation towards water systems’ ability to deal with these changes, fundamental changes is woefully not there. So we set a 10 year ambition to catalyze the transformation to water resilience in the face of climate change, and to bring a lot of our programmatic work in our partnerships around trying to drive these solutions that are reflecting the need to adapt and to become more resilient in the face of climate change.”

[10:48] "JM: “You could make the case […] that 20 years ago, 10 years ago, you'd get extremely dry stretches, and everyone would chalk it up to droughts and drought cycles and natural variability […]. But I think what's becoming very clear as the data mounts is that we're not talking about one off events, but actually a change in the way that water availability is shrinking in some parts of the world. There's a recent report out by the World Meteorological Organization that showed that if you go back over the last 20 years, globally, for water availability, the wetter parts of the world are getting wetter, and the dry parts of the world are getting drier. And in some places, annual water availability is shrinking over that same period of 20 years by four to five centimeters a year, that's to two inches a year, which may not sound like a lot, but that's actually a lot of water in an arid region. And so I think as this data mounts the decision makers that are in control of […] water resources are realizing this is not the one off drought, but this is a new future.”

[13:59] HC: “We launched just two years ago a goal to catalyze the transformation to water resilience in the face of climate change. And with that we set out to define the term. […] And we define water resilience as the ability of water systems to function, so that nature and people including those on the frontlines and disproportionately impacted thrive under shock, stresses, and change.

[14:59] JM: “When we think about the impacts of climate change on water, we all know that those impacts will not be felt evenly across segments of our society. And there are frontline communities that are going to be impacted first and worst. And so for our organization and the way we think about resilience is making sure that all the communities and nature are able to withstand and even thrive through these shocks, and stresses, and these changes. So our work will orient around making sure that we can achieve something […] called deep resilience, which is all segments of the society that are able to manage through these impacts of climate change.”

[16:18] HC: “When we use the term water system, it's not just about pumps and pipes. That's […] the old definition and too narrow. Really, as nature and people are interdependent and so when we use the term water system, we're using it broadly, it's including the natural environment and the built environment, and also the governance systems around those things. […] Stresses are the sort of gradual change, things like population growth, temperature increases, [while] shocks are the more sudden events, things like wildfires or floods.”

[18:06] JM: “When it comes to systems, if you're going to take a resilience approach, you need to not only think about the water system, but how it connects to other systems and impacts that might be manifest as result of climate change. So for water, this would be the energy system, the food system that are all […] very reliant on water. So thinking about resilience and ability to manage through these impacts is about connecting the water system to these other systems that are important.”

[19:52] HC: “We think about […] three dimensions [of resiliency] and it's persistency, adaptability and transformability. So, we think of persistency […] [as] being able to return quickly to a stable state after a disturbance. Adaptability is around […] adjusting some of the gradual and predictable disturbances that change over time. And then transformability is really about fundamentally being able to alter […] the functions and structures as these hard to predict shifts occur.”

[23:44] HC: “I think one of the funnest part and the most challenging part was trying to think about [water resilience’s] relationship with water security and water sustainability. These are often […] guiding principles that are being used in the water space. And for us, we really came to the important conclusion that it's critically important that water resilience is built on a foundation of water security and water sustainability.”

[26:00] HC: “We strongly feel and and recognize that the global water crisis is going to be exacerbated by climate change. And because of that, we're urging water decision makers in the public sector and in the private sector to really commit to achieving resilience by scaling solutions through changing and altering their policies and practices to really work towards resilience. And we recognize there's no perfect resilience […]. It's really an ongoing process, it needs to be sort of an ongoing framework that we need to be working from, given this, this greater uncertainty that we're facing.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 33 min | 🗓️ 11/08/2021
✅ Time saved: 31 min