A recent report from Amnesty International finds that Israel has developed discriminatory practices that have created sever water scarcity for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Much has been made of the potential for resource scarcity to cause violent security issues. In this case it seems that insecurity has resulted in resource scarcity. According to the Amnesty report Israel has prevented Palestinians from accessing the surface water of the Jordan River, dominated use of the Mountain aquifer located under the West Bank, and prevented capital upkeep of sanitation stations in Gaza that are critical to refreshing the coastal aquifer. The impacts of the imbalance land heavily on the Palestinian households dependent on water from these natural sources. Decreased agricultural productivity and high costs to get needed clean water has placed substantial burdens on the economic well-being of affected households. The ongoing violence in Israel may not be caused by resource scarcity but it seems likely that the inequality and desperation caused by discriminatory Israeli water policies breeds societal insecurity.
Just yesterday I was looking through the Green American Fall newsletter, and read an article about Hasselt, Belgium (4th largest city in Belgium) reclaiming its streets from traffic nightmare roads. In the mid-1990s this city was very similar to many US cities, with a massive suburban sprawl and urban businesses experiencing great deterioration. There was an increase in traffic congestion, thus a plan to ease this by building another road around the city (already two known as “ring roads”). By the advice of a green consulting group, the then mayor of Hasselt—Steve Stevaert—halted construction of the new road (saving billions of dollars) and decided to turn half of the inner ring road into a pedestrian friendly thoroughfare by being car-free. This is now known as the Green Boulevard. Additionally, he created a more accessible bus system by increasing the number of busses (40 total) and letting residents ride them for free. Continue reading
Green Politics by Anil Agarwal, Sunita Narain and Anju Sharma is perhaps one of those few books which talks about the stance of developing countries when it comes to global environmental negotiations. The developing countries have always come across as skeptics when it comes to global environmental negotiations and their reasons can be fairly justified. This book highlights the southern perspective of such negotiations and clearly shows how these environmental negotiations which are supposed to be based on the principle of good governance—equality, justice and democracy have often turned out to be business transactions where the rich crush the interests of the poor. Continue reading