Water, please!

In the February issue, guest editor Winy Maas talks about the importance of water and a new generation of designers who have worked on visionary proposals aimed to save the Earth.

Welcome to the next steps in the world of tomorrow.

The tone is set by the next generation of designers who have worked on beautiful visionary fictions aimed at helping to save the Earth. This exercise of planetary imagination includes the need to guarantee a good and sufficient water supply.

Water has become increasingly fascinating to me. It is one of the most elementary resources for humans. Up to 60 per cent of the adult human body consists of water, and we need to replenish daily; 80 per cent of the global population lives within 65 miles of the coast; humans and water need to unite into one symbiosis, merging anthropogenic and natural cycles. In other words, we need H2O to survive.

While in the past water conflicts were mostly related to desertification processes and their impact in dramatic famines that could eventually be fought by irrigation plans, today water has become the canary in the gold- mine. It is the obvious symptom of climate change that dominates the news in often unexpected ways. 

The Netherlands is a territory created by man, and would be flooded without the technology and engineering implemented throughout the centuries to protect it from the invasion of water. It is for this reason that there is great expertise about water in this country. Henk Ovink is the first Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Such a title highlights the importance of the matter. For this issue, we asked Henk Ovink to talk about water at a global scale. Ovink can address like no other the issues related to water and their implications. Following his Twitter account (@henkovink) is fascinating. There we learn in just a few tweets about the global water situation, the drying Colorado River, the sinking Mekong Delta, the droughts in Germany and the Andes, and about the global conflicts associated with water scarcity. 

Ban Ki-moon stated that “climate change is not just an issue for the fu- ture – it is an urgent issue for today”. So, what can we do now? How do we store water better? Not only along our rivers, but also in the highlands of, for instance, Berner Oberland? Can we put it under our houses? Can we develop acceptance and insurance systems for that? And how do we stop evaporation on a global level? By planting trees on a massive scale? And how do we make mountains colder? How do we encourage snow? And how do we make freshwater basins in and around the deserts?

All these ideas can lead to fascinating new places, to new landscapes. Let’s make them!

A true agenda for design! 

Photo: Amanda Weideman

Speciale Guest Editor

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