by Iliana Sepulveda*
Water is essential for human life. It is also very useful for transportation, and agricultural and industrial production. Energy is also an essential ingredient. The relationship between these two resources has become an important topic for national security and for human development worldwide. With current available technology, vast quantities of water are required to produce energy (thermoelectric production as an example). Moreover, due to the geographical mismatch of water supply and demand, a significant amount of energy is needed to transport water where it is consumed, and to ensure that it has the proper quality for its different end uses (human consumption, agricultural uses, industrial production, and ecosystems protection). Continue reading
Posted in economics, energy, Nexus of energy-food-water, resource use, students, Sustainability, water, Wharton IGEL
Tagged energy, resource use, Spring 2013, students, water
by Sharon Muli*
Water covers 70.9% of the Earth’s surface. However, only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and 68.7% of this freshwater is in glaciers, 30% is ground water, and 0.3% is surface water. Humans depend on freshwater for a wide variety of uses, and this finite amount of water must be properly managed and allocated.
The chart below shows the uses of freshwater in the U.S. The chart highlights the nexus between water, food, energy –the focus of the upcoming Wharton IGEL Conference on March 20-21, 2013. The two leading uses of freshwater withdrawals in the U.S. are thermoelectric power and irrigation, and any significant change in water use in these sectors will likely have an impact on the other categories.
How do droughts affect our country? As part of a group project for the Wharton course Risk Analysis and Environmental Management, Penn students Sharon Muli, Brent Ginsberg, Zenia Zelechiwsky, and Yaowen Ma are gathering data on how individuals perceive the risk of drought. The focus of this project is to investigate the likelihood of more droughts occurring in the United States in the future and to shed light on their associated impacts.
Please click here to take a survey to help us with our investigation. The survey takes approximately 2-3 minutes to complete. Thank you for your participation.
*Sharon Muli is enrolled in Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies program with a concentration in Environmental Policy. She has a background in Biology, is particularly interested in water issues and corporate sustainability, and currently works as a Product Sustainability Co-op at Johnson & Johnson.
Posted in resource use, student projects, students, water, Wharton IGEL
Tagged IGEL, leadership, resource use, Spring 2013, students, sustainability, water
by Yixiu Zheng*
I started working on this project last semester, while taking a course in environmental economics.
As a subfield of economics, environmental economics draws on both microeconomics and macroeconomics[i], but it also has unique concepts of its own. I have seen that students who have never studied economics before can find terms like “property rights” and “marginal abatement cost” overwhelming. While scholars of economics often use historical data and experiments, environmental economics is a relatively recent discipline, developed first in 1950s in the U.S.[ii] There aren’t many experiments to build upon; for instance, the water rights trade doesn’t have a large scope of application, except for some arid areas like California and Australia. So how are students supposed to fully understand and apply these concepts in the real world?
I learn best through direct experience. This type of teaching doesn’t seem boring to me. And in fact, it is suggested that people do have a better memory when they put teachings into practice, for example, by trying to cook a meal rather than just reading its recipe. This is why I want to create a game about environmental economics. Continue reading
Posted in business sustainability, economics, student projects, students, Sustainability, water, Wharton IGEL
Tagged business, energy, environment, IGEL, leadership, Spring 2013, students, water
by Samantha Guidon*
On February 8, 2013, with an imminent Winter Storm Nemo on the horizon, over 250 industry leaders and key players in the water sector came together at Goldman Sachs in New York City to begin the dialogue on addressing water risks throughout the country. Students from the Master of Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania joined the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) team in attending this event to gain key perspectives from leaders in the water sector. Entitled “Water: Emerging Risks and Opportunities Summit,” the conference identified areas in need of improvement and discussed opportunities from various points of view. A welcoming address from David Solomon, Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs, established the overall goals of bringing together capital, technology, and policy in order to determine best management practices within the water sector. Continue reading
Posted in ethics, Investing, reduce, resource use, Risk Management, Venture capital, water, Wharton IGEL
Tagged climate change, conference, environment, leadership, resource use, sustainability, water, water supply
The global population is projected to hit eight billion people within 20 years. With a growing population, dramatically more food, water and energy is needed. Yet even today, food and water supplies are becoming increasingly stressed in the face of climate change, development and unsustainable natural resources consumption. Recent drought-caused food price hikes have provided a glimpse into what the resource-constrained future would look like without significant action.
The concept of the food-water-energy nexus refers to how each one of those things affects the other. Water is the most important part of this nexus, because it cannot be created or substituted. Water also directly affects both of the other items. For example, most forms of energy production require substantial amounts of water for cooling and mining. Agriculture accounts for more than 70 percent of global water withdrawals. By comparison, around 16 percent of global water withdrawals are for the industrial sector. More than three billion people will be living in water-stressed areas by 2020. Continue reading
Join Wharton IGEL at these upcoming events in Philadelphia:
November 2, 2012: Wharton Energy Conference
Wharton IGEL is a sponsor
November 7, 2012: IES/IGEL Seminar Series – The Future of Water
“Liquid Gold: Global Water Developments and Opportunities”
Jon Freedman, GE Water & Process Technologies
Francesca McCann, Global Water Strategies
Co-sponsored by Wharton IGEL and the Institute for Environmental Studies
November 8, 2012: “Out of Eden: A Journalist Gone Rogue”
Paul Salopek, two-time Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist
Co-sponsored by Wharton IGEL and the Graduate Student Center
Posted in developing countries, energy, events, students, Sustainability, water, Wharton, Wharton IGEL
Tagged environment, IGEL, students, sustainability, water, Wharton
Save the date for IGEL’s Sixth Conference-Workshop on “The Nexus of Energy, food, and Water”, to be held on Thursday, March 21st, 2013. Objectives of the conference include providing an overview about sustainability as it relates to energy, food, and water, the multitude of strategies needed to evaluate water risk in the global economy, as well as the intersection between energy resources, food supply, and security. Speakers will include Andrew Winston, author of “Green to Gold”, Jeff Seabright of Coca-Cola, Perry Moss of Rubicon Global, Tamara Thies of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and many more. The keynote address and prelude to IGEL’s conference-workshop will be delivered by General John Ashcroft, followed by a VIP Dinner the night before, Wednesday, March 20th, 2013. For more information, please view the conference agenda.
Posted in energy, events, resource use, water, Wharton IGEL
Tagged biofuels, climate change, environment, IGEL, Spring 2013, sustainability, water, Wharton
Author Michael McCullough is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. This is the introduction to his paper in the IGEL Student Research Briefs series. Click here to read the whole paper>> Opinions are those of the authors and not of Penn, Wharton or IGEL.
Water is an increasingly scarce resource due to booming population growth, increased demand and climate change. Many investors see global water scarcity as an investment opportunity. This ever widening gap between supply and mounting global demand is an obvious selling point for some investment funds eager to acquire an under-valued commodity. Unlike oil, gold or copper commodities, however, the basic supply-demand calculus will not necessarily yield predictable returns on water because of political risks inherent in charging increasing prices for a life-sustaining service. A successful strategy will seek to provide cost-effective technology enabling consumers to receive and enjoy the same level of water service while consuming significantly less water.1 Additionally, water-inefficient production processes, primarily in the agricultural sector account for the vast majority of water consumption, meaning gains in efficiency can do much to close the supply shortfall if increasing prices incentivize efficiency (Ghosh 2009; 2030 Water Resources Group 2009).
(Post written by Caroline D’Angelo, IGEL’s Graduate Intern and Editor-in-Chief for StudentReporter.org World Water Forum 2012 project, and Maria-Tzina Leria, a Penn Master of Environmental Studies student and Reporter at the WWF. It was originally posted at StudentReporter.org)
Student Reporter Maria-Tzina Leria interviewed Jean Marc Jahn, Chief Executive Officer of Société des Eaux et de l’Assainissement d’Alger (SEAAL) at the World Water Forum (you can listen to the podcast below). SEAAL is a private-public partnership between Algeria’s government and Suez Environment, the second largest private water company in the world. The partnership exists to expand water and sanitation access, as well as to build capacity at the local level through a specific program, Water International Knowledge Transfer Initiative (WIKTI), which provides videos, training and education to local operators. Suez presented this partnership and WIKTI as a ‘solutions’ in the Village of Solutions and on SolutionsforChange.org, the Forum’s online depository. Mr. Jahn brought Algerian operators with him to the World Water Forum and was clearly proud of the program. He says in the interview that in the past five years, there has been”…60,000 days of training in Algiers, and more than 50 percent of the trainers are Algerian. In the beginning it was zero.” This shift reflects the large investment in knowledge transfer to the local community.
The partnership was born out of massive water shortages in the early 2000s that led the Algerian government to explore privatization options. Up to 40 percent of water sent through Algiers’ system was leaked and wasted. In 2005, the Algerian government passed a new Water Code, which permitted privatization under certain conditions and also provided the government with more enforcement options for environmental violations. The Algerian government invested 14 billion dollars in water and sanitation between 2006 and 2015, and will be investing tens of millions more in the coming years. In the interview, Mr. Jahn describes the change in access to water and sanitation over the last six years, explaining that now 100 percent of distributed water is safe to drink and is available 24 hours a day. Wastewater treatment coverage has expanded from eight to 53 percent of the population and is expected to reach 70 percent by the end of 2012, which is far better than the old system of direct dumping in the Mediterranean. Perhaps reflecting the success of the program, Algiers recently resigned the contract with Suez for another five years.
Listen to the interview and comment below.