Ever wonder what impacts water has on the world? A world without water? Imagine that! Well, we all know that without water, human beings, or any form of life, for that matter, wouldn’t exist! Today, I am here to talk about the importance of water in our lives and how we can set our priorities by taking a water-first approach; in other words, Blue Ecology.
What Is Blue Ecology?
Blue Ecology is how we understand the importance of water in our lives and how we can protect and conserve it. March 22 each year is UN Water Day – a day to reflect the value of water in our lives. I believe water is the essence of life. 70% of the human body is water and ¾ th of the Earth is water. All known forms of life need water for survival and major world civilizations grew around sources of water! “It has the power to generate, sustain, receive and ultimately unify life” – UNESCO IHP Expert Advisory Group on Water and Cultural Diversity.
The Different Views of Water Around the World
As we reflect on this topic, I cannot help but compare the Western world’s view of water to some eastern civilizations as well as to indigenous communities. Blue Ecology is also about integrating these two different views of water and keeping them in mind before taking any decisions concerning urban planning, forestry, agriculture or real estate. We can develop plans but with a more “water first” attitude in mind. Examples of other cultures which take this approach include the Anishinaabe First Nations, Maori tribes in New Zealand and communities around the river Ganga ( Ganges) and Godavari in India.
How It ties back To My Personal Heritage
I belong to Bhubaneswar, Odisha where we value water as a spiritual blessing and revere it instead of considering it as an abundant material which won’t run out. We use it for many prayer ceremonies and rituals. We also bathe and pray on the holy banks of the river Ganga as a symbol of respect and purity. Unlike here in Canada, where we use water carelessly, in India, the value of water is much higher, considering the daily struggle to get a bucket of water for the entire household. Families in India around dry places with poor conditions, poverty and lack of development are required to walk a few miles every day to get a single bucket of water from the closest well to serve all the purposes in a household including, cooking, bathing, brushing, drinking etc. My father has shared his own experiences around searching for water for daily use and it’s heartbreaking at times to listen to those stories. For reasons like these, we can see why the conservation of water is highly important for us to sustain ourselves and to keep the earth healthy and prosperous for future generations.
How Do The Indigenous Peoples Of Canada View Water?
Similar to my heritage’s view of water, the Indigenous Peoples of Canada views water in a very similar way. First Nations acknowledge the asceticism of water and the importance of preserving water from pollution, drought and waste. First Nations are seeking the awareness of their authorities over water and require resources to build capacity to condone their water rights and to protect the health of water. Many First Nations seek to rehabilitate the traditional ways of protecting the health of water and to share these with people around the world.
After noting the varying views of water around the world, here are some suggestions as to how we all can make a difference:
1. Change our OWN Attitude and treat water as if it has life, and respect it
2. Show active leadership around it by engaging in water conservation efforts and/or environmental planning
3. Increase awareness about it. Go out! Be a role model and show the world that we care.