Coincidental with National Geographic's recent documentary Parched: Global Water Wars, an Economist Intelligence Unit 2017 Report examines lessons from the Mekong River Basin where water resources a-plenty sustain the livelihood of millions but remain the cause célèbre between upstream and downstream countries driven by dams-builing, urbanization, and climate change.
The EIU Report finds that -
Water abundance is not a substitute for good water governance.
The ever-growing threats of climate change, economic development and rapid population growth demand comprehensive solutions that address both increased demand for and finite availability of food, energy and water resources.
Successful water security solutions will minimize the trade-offs in the fragile food-energy-water nexus.
Water resource management is a fundamental component of food security.
Regional organisations can support water security by providing a platform for discussion, but they require stronger enforcement mechanisms to influence national-level water policy.
Improved, effective water management at the national level requires increased agency co-ordination and implementation of regulations.
Amid challenges to trans-boundary water resource management, donor, multilateral and international support for local and national interventions is critical to improving water security around the globe.
The private sector can play an important role in reducing water insecurity around the globe, but this requires more innovative action.
Recent innovations include grain and fish varieties with shorter growth duration, rice varieties with greater salinity tolerance, alternate wetting and drying (AWD) techniques for rice production, better coordination between rice and shrimp production cycles, satellite imagery and geospatial technology to reduce food insecurity, innovative water-saving and less polluting consumer products, and cross-region power grids to tap non-water renewable resources.
The Report ends with a degree of cautious optimism - albeit slow, there appears some steady progress towards water security in the Mekong River Basin.
Greetings! May I first wish you well as black swans seem to be standing the world on its head.
Even as President Trump is reaching his first 100 days, the world is no wiseron his next move . Notwithstanding his tête à tête with President Xi, US-China relations are far from settled. What is more, the world's liberal order remains under siege. Brexit may well lead to Scoxit. As for China, persistent debt, anti-corruption and slower growth notwithstanding, grand initiatives like the One Belt, One Road and the Pearl River Delta Bay Area are pushing ahead. There are other imponderables including climate change, looming water wars, an increasingly belligerent North Korea, an anxious Taiwan, and Hong Kong's prospects under its first lady Chief Executive.
Some perspective may be gained from the following -
A reportoire of inspirational music, videos, songs and words, There is also a collection in Chinese.
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Visiting Professor, Sun Yat-sen University Business School, China (2005-10)
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Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), sends me his two insightful articles in Project Syndicate on the world order. The first, Trump the Ideologue, argues that the new US President, like Margaret Thatcher, propounds a new ideology heralding a new epoch, even if neither can be regarded as an ideologue.
The second, What Liberal World Order?, postulates that both "Liberal Order 1.0", which ends at borders of nation states and "Liberal Order 2.0" which permeates inside nation states to defend individual rights and redefine sovereignty are now under threat. He singles out Germany and Turkey as key actors in defending, shaping or extracting benefits from the existing Liberal Order at least as it applies to Europe or Eurasia while a Brexit United Kingdom is playing with double standards.
I sent him the following comments -
(a) Both Trumpismand Thatcherism capitalize on a rising tide of popular discontent. Rather than inventing something new, both merely gave vent to the changing spirit of the times.
(b) On the Liberal World Order, I suggested that he hasn't done justice to the impact of a rising China. Albeit a relatively subdued rule-changer, China is more powerful economically and culturally than Russia or Turkey. Moreover, China is firmly embedded in the Liberal World Order defined in the global supply and value chain. Look at any product or appliances and you will find China in it somewhere even if the item is not marked "Made in China". China doesn't want to upend the Liberal World Order which has benefited her most. Nor does she want to lead it. But all signs point to her desire to have a bigger say in how this Order needs to be upheld, as in the case of Climate Change, and modified, as in the case of influence in global institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. Failing meaningful concessions, China has initiated parallel institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is now supported by 70 Member Countries including key Western allies. Another ambitious China-led global project is the much-vaulted One Belt, One Road initiative, linking China across continents through infrastructure and investments in tone with an Age of Connectography. Click here
Either way, there is little doubt that the sands of the Liberal World Order as we know it are rapidly shifting. China is poised to play an increasingly influential role in helping shape the things to come.
My strategic investment talk with the Hong Kong University Graduate Association on 7 March, 2017 - entitled Implications of a Trump Presidency and Shifts in the World Order - Where to put your money in 2017
In his Paper of February, 2017, Homi Kharas, a senior fellow and deputy director of the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution, outlines the unprecedented expansion of the global middle-class, 88% in Asia.
The following are extracts from his report -
• There were about 3.2 billion people in the middle class at the end of 2016, 500 million more than .... previously estimated. This implies that in two to three years there might be a tipping point where a majority of the world’s population, for the first time ever, will live in middle-class or rich households.
• The rate of increase of the middle class, in absolute numbers, is approaching its all-time peak. Already, about 140 million are joining the middle class annually and this number could rise to 170 million in five years’ time.
• An overwhelming majority of new entrants into the middle class— ..... 88 percent of the next billion—will live in Asia.
• The absolute market size of middle-class spending is larger than previously estimated. In 2015, middle-class spending was about $35 trillion (in 2011 PPP terms), roughly 12 percent higher than ... previous estimate. It now accounts for one-third of the global economy.
• The global middle-class market is now clearly bifurcated: a slow-growing developed country middle class, and a fast-growing emerging economy middle class—with growth in both instances measured in terms of either numbers of people or total spending.
• The most dynamic segment of the global middle-class market is at the lower end of the scale, among new entrants with comparatively low per capita spending.
• Big geographic distributional shifts in markets are happening, with China and India accounting for an ever-greater market share, while the European and North American middle class basically stagnates.
• At a growth of about 4 percent in real terms, the middle-class market is growing faster than global GDP growth, but not as fast as it did in the 1960s and 1970s, the boom years for the middle class.
A larger middle-class population and market has significant environment and social implications. Naturally, assuming technology does not change, the carbon footprint per person will rise as the middle class expands.
Two mitigating factors could limit the extent of this. First, middle-class growth is associated with migration from rural to urban areas and, for a given level of income, households in urban areas tend to have a smaller carbon footprint than households in rural areas, especially for transport. Second, middle-class households tend to invest more in their children’s education and this, in turn, can reduce fertility rates and decrease the long-term population trajectory for the world.
The social implications of a larger middle class are also important. There is considerable evidence that a larger middle class will also imply a happier population, at least for new entrants into the middle class (Kahneman and Deaton, 2010). But there is little evidence to suggest that this will create pressures for more democratic governance or for better delivery of public services, both of which are required for sustained growth. In fact, governments may find themselves unable to meet the growing expectations for middle-class enhancing programs, such as universal health care, public education, pensions, and affordable housing, without resorting to deeply unpopular tax increases.
Getting the right balance between taxes on the middle class and services to support them likely presents the greatest source of uncertainty for this paper’s forecasts.