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Water security discussion during the Global Earth Summit IV in Kolkata, India

15 April 2015
Mantaro River in La Oroya, Peru. Photo credit: eliseosebastian.ning.com

Mantaro River in La Oroya, Peru. Photo credit: eliseosebastian.ning.com

Xavier Jeyaraj, SJ

Water security is an essential element of human and environmental security and extractive industries that continue to contaminate water, land, and air threaten the public health, especially that of local communities and the environment.

In a presentation on extractive industries and water conflict at the Saint Xavier’s Global Earth Summit IV-International Conference on Global Climate Change and Water Disasters in Kolkata, India last month, Dr Fernando Serrano took the example of his research in La Oroya, Peru and stressed the importance of building partnership between local communities, faith organizations and universities in education and advocacy for water security.

The current globalization process is increasing the demand for minerals and the expansion of exploration and exploitation of mineral resources to all corners of the world. This is resulting in the degradation of natural resources especially water, and public health as well.

Dr Serrano is assistant professor of environmental and public health at the College for Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University in the US and is also a core group member of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network-Governance of Natural and Mineral Resources (GIAN-GNMR).

He also highlighted how the scientific research study helped the local communities to fight for their rights and demand for change in policy and programs for accessing safe water and protect the health of everyone and the environment. He previously wrote on this topic for Ecojesuit.

Fernando Serrano, Xavier Jeyaraj, Pedro Walpole take a break during the conference.

Fernando Serrano, Xavier Jeyaraj, Pedro Walpole, and Tony Herbert take a break during the conference.

Other major speakers during the conference  included Dr Pedro Walpole SJ from Philippines, Dr Atiq Rehman, climate research scientist from Bangladesh, Dr Francoise Orban-Ferauge, geographer from Belgium, Dr Sugata Hazra, coastal management scientist from Kolkata, Dr Xavier Savarimuthu SJ, environmental scientist from Kolkata, and Dr Rajendra Singh from Rajastan, India and best known as the Water Man of India and who shared his deep insight about the struggle for and the democratization of water. Dr Singh was named the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate last 20 March in Stockholm, Sweden for his innovative water restoration efforts and improvement of water security in rural India.

GIAN-Ecology South Asia, the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat) in Rome, and Saint Xavier’s College, Kolkata were the joint organizers of the three-day international conference and drew around 45 Jesuits from all over India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Students, professors, and alumni of Saint Xavier’s College-Kolkata also participated in the summit and reflected on the theme of global climate change and water disasters. Field visits to the wetland development in Eastern Kolkata, the Sundarbans-Biosphere reserve, and areas affected by the 2004 tsunami and Cyclone Aila in May 2009 were also undertaken.

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