Video: "Water for Nature, Water for People" with Sandra Postel

The moment that stands out as the highlight of my 2010 was WWF-Canada’s ‘Water for Nature, Water for People’ reception held in Ottawa in mid-November. We brought one of the world’s leading thinkers and communicators on fresh water, Sandra Postel, to speak to a room of 80 or so MPs, government staff, and friends and colleagues from environmental and water policy groups.
Sandra Postel is a remarkable woman, and has for long been one of my freshwater heroes. She is the Director of the Global Water Policy Project and was recently named National Geographic’s first Freshwater Fellow. As a special holiday treat, we are setting Sandra’s sobering yet inspiring words free on the web with this video in the hope that they will factor a little into your reflections on 2010, and your game plans for 2011:
Before you watch the video, let me share a few of my own reflections based on her talk.
There are countless water problems to solve across Canada and around the world. Securing safe, reliable drinking water, from African villages to First Nation’s communities here at home, are global and national priorities.  Cleaning up lingering legacies of polluted waters, be that the massive tailings ponds along the Athabasca River that contain the toxic by-products of oil sands development or Areas of Concern around the Great Lakes basin, pose ongoing challenges. And stemming the ongoing loss of freshwater biodiversity on our blue planet will be critical to the survival of life as we know it.
But the 21st century water challenge is more than a problem-solving exercise – it is about fundamentally redefining and reshaping our relationship with water as it flows through our lives, our communities, our economies, and through the ecosystems that sustain us. The challenge we face is to envision and enable ways to live in harmony with nature’s water cycle. In fact, when we consider that we will need to feed, clothe and provide energy for another 3 billion people on this planet by 2050 while sustaining the health of our rivers, lakes and wetlands, the challenge may be more accurately described as moral and ecological imperative.
As Sandra says at the beginning of her talk: “The human story over the next century is very much going to be a water story” – each and every one of us have a role to play in writing that story, and in righting humanity’s relationship with water: the most simple and most precious of substances, that just happens to be the foundation of all life on earth.
2011 is poised to be a big year for WWF-Canada’s work on fresh water. Stay tuned here at for updates as we build toward a big mid-year splash.