Published on 12 December 2007
International-cooperation Workshop on the Theme: “Water: Common Good – Common Responsibility”
Report from the organization Ellada Nature
This is the report on the workshop for five Nature Management and Conservation students specializing in nature facilitation. Our course includes several workshops on different themes. For the workshop on international cooperation, we set up the organization Ellada Nature and we went to a Cyclades island, Syros (Greece), to meet up with Yolanda Ziaka, coordinator of the Polis Environmental Education Network. During the workshop we focused on the issue of water management in connection with the responsibility this management involves for us.
The first part of the workshop dealt with global action. We wrote part of the second booklet of the Agir Responsible(responsible action) series published in the framework of the Charter of Human Responsibilities project. Its title will be Water: Common Good – Common Responsibility. The booklet will be addressed to all those who have an environment-related educational mission (teachers, facilitators, journalists), as well as to the general population. The aim of the booklet is to be a reference for a first approach to water-related problems, to raise awareness on the issue, and to make people think about our common responsibility. Indeed, as a consequence of climate warming, the water resource is becoming increasingly rare and access to water for all is ever more in question. It is therefore important to implement projects intended to raise public awareness by supplying facts and knowledge to increase collective awareness. The booklet does not intend to be exhaustive, but rather a means to help anyone willing to learn about or work with this theme. In the booklet, the fundamentals are explained, and directions for further study are provided through a bibliography and a webography. To make the booklet attractive, it begins and ends with a tale. While we were writing the booklet, we were also able to deepen our knowledge and become aware of the challenge existing around this increasingly sought resource.
The second part of our project consisted of a local action. The island of Syros today has big water-management problems. As it is a confined environment, the groundwater is only renewed when it rains locally, contrary to the continent, where the water in any given place can come from several kilometers upstream. With the island’s development, in particular summer tourism, the use of water has increased. At the same time, climate warming has decreased rainfall significantly. Groundwater renewal occurs at an increasingly slower pace. Tap water comes from a desalination station, is unfit for consumption, and consumes a lot of energy. Drinking water comes from the continent. Freshwater coming directly from Syros is reserved for farming. Most of the island’s inhabitants have a well at home, but drilling for groundwater has become increasingly deeper, and the diminishing levels of groundwater has become problematic. Most wells now get very little water supply and vegetation is having trouble reaching the groundwater. It is therefore important to get the island inhabitants and visitors to understand the problem.
We thus conducted a survey of the wells in Syros, which led to writing explanatory texts about water management on the island that anyone can understand. These texts are to be used by the town hall of Posidonia to mark out a small discovery trail for the wells and provide an explanatory brochure to go with it. Our work should allow the town hall to prepare their application for the subsidies they need to restore some of the wells and to print the brochure.
Otherwise, we were invited to speak before a classroom at the Frères De Lasalle school, to present our work and talk about the water-management issue. The children were very interested, but what impressed us was the constantly recurring question: “Isn’t there a way to find more water?” It made us think, because it is true that today lack of water leads to searching for more rather than to solve the problem, which is: we use too much water and we need use it more rationally.
What is happening on Syros, at such a small scale, is finally what could be happening at a larger scale on the continent. Although water can be imported from the continent, what will happen when the continent has the same problems? Where will we import water from?
These three weeks will have been for us all a very rich experience, both human and educational. We come from a country where problems of drought are being felt but that is not enough for collective awareness.
MARISSAL Elsa, LAGORCE Line, GUDGEON Laura, LAURENCY Sabine and FAVAREILLE Romain