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Establishing a Water Institute in Javeriana University

31 July 2018
“Water is an essential common good, an existential and transcendental factor, the natural and cultural heritage of planet earth, the supreme and sacred element for the expression of life in all its manifestations. The geographical diversity of Colombia is manifested in the variety of its landscapes and climates, its mountains, its glaciers, aquifers, rivers and oceans, forests, páramos, and the desert; of fauna and flora; of cultures and modes of production and life. All the coordinates of this territory host countless goods and resources that constitute an infinite natural and human wealth with an exceptional biodiversity that we must guard as an inheritance for the generations to come.” (Source: Declaración de Colombia: Del derecho al agua al derecho a la paz, September 2017) Photo credit: Instituto del Agua de la Universidad Javeriana

“Water is an essential common good, an existential and transcendental factor, the natural and cultural heritage of planet earth, the supreme and sacred element for the expression of life in all its manifestations. The geographical diversity of Colombia is manifested in the variety of its landscapes and climates, its mountains, its glaciers, aquifers, rivers and oceans, forests, páramos, and the desert; of fauna and flora; of cultures and modes of production and life. All the coordinates of this territory host countless goods and resources that constitute an infinite natural and human wealth with an exceptional biodiversity that we must guard as an inheritance for the generations to come.” (Source: Declaración de Colombia: Del derecho al agua al derecho a la paz, September 2017) Photo credit: Instituto del Agua de la Universidad Javeriana

Part of the 2016-2021 plan of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia is the establishment of the Instituto del Agua de la Universidad Javeriana (Javeriana Water Institute) that will specialize on the study of water from a wider and multi-sectoral vision to include transportation, supply and uses, recreation, sanitation, conservation and impact on biodiversity, hazards, and engages with broader civil society.

The existence of a “scientific ecosystem of water studies” in the university aims to forward a view of water as: 1) a renewable natural resource with the hydrological cycle integrated with the other biogeochemical cycles; (2 a physical fluid that requires a foundation from the natural sciences and mathematics to understand its occurrence on earth and in ecosystems; and (3 a life resource that sustains a society in harmony with the environment.

The Water Institute has four proposed work areas or lines of research.

The first line of research takes a water resources management perspective on socioecological systems and will work on studies and projects on socio-ecological relationships around agriculture and livestock and services related to rural development, water governance, water resources management and public policies, and the ecological economics of water.

The second focuses on health and water safety and will work specifically on promoting the importance of both the health of people and ecosystems, the relevance of caring for water resources in caring for our Common Home, and water security.

The third research line will work on biodiversity, hydroclimatic variability, and climate change, and management of conservation systems.  It aims to propose models of governance and integrated management of water and biodiversity on the Andean Amazon to support local communities in adapting to various processes that are changing the landscape.

Lastly, the fourth research line focuses on the utilization and conservation of sustainable water infrastructure in the areas of mining, hydrocarbons, energy, and transportation.

In the long term, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana plans to establish relationships and research with other water institutes at the national and international levels.

This text was taken from a presentation shared during the dialogue with the Ecojesuit team at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana on 1 August 2018.  The dialogue involved key faculty and officials of the university, members of the Conferencia de Provinciales Jesuitas en América Latina y el Caribe (CPAL), and other organizations working on the Amazon’s environmental and social concerns.

This effort aligns with the visit of Pope Francis to Colombia in September 2017 during which there was a major call to “take a step forward.”  Taking place at the same time was a seminar-workshop titled Right to water, right to peace: An integral ecology for the environment, sustainable development, and the culture of encounter (Del derecho al agua al derecho a la paz: Una ecología integral para el medio ambiente, el desarrollo sostenible y la cultura del encuentro”) that held at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 7 to 8 September 2017.  By the end of the workshop, participants issued a final statement: Declaración de Colombia: Del derecho al agua al derecho a la paz (Colombia Declaration: Right to water, right to peace).

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