Pure Peace=Pure Water

Oftentimes the relationship between peace and public health can be a murky route to navigate. Both can be perceived to be influenced by alternative forces, where in reality, public health could often be looked at as one part of how peace is defined. In fact, Ashley Bersani put it best, “Public Health and Peace­ they go together like peas and carrots”. In her article highlighting the relationship between peace and public health, she argued that in order to have a peaceful society, members in this society must have their basic needs met. With that, and and understanding of basic human needs, we know the most quintessential basic need to survive is, water.

But what specifically does water have to do with peace? How do we solve this problem?

All around the world, water is distributed and consumed in various ways. For many of us, we wake up in the morning take a shower, brush our teeth, and drink a glass of water. However, we know that everywhere that is not the case. Each and everyday the lack of clean water creates many problems for those on the other end. When clean water is scarce, it creates tension and conflict simply because many people are vying for a limited supply. As water consumption continues to increase this problem will only continue to spread internationally. In fact the struggles experienced by these circumstances have developed what many have deemed, “The Global Water Crisis”. In fact, the World Economic Forum determined that this Crisis is the most severe Societal Global risk today.

Fortunately, there are many organizations working towards creating easier access to clean water for areas around the world. However, roughly 50% of clean water interventions fail. Why does this occur though? Many of the interventions that organizations take on are ill fit for the communities they are working with. To solve any issue it is important to gauge the political, economic, and cultural climates of the areas an organization may work with to ensure sustainable solutions to clean water access. In fact, one such company working towards this is a Columbus based company, the Pure Water Access Project (PWAP).

PWAP was created in response to the circumstances of “The Global Water Crisis” and aims to resolve common issues it incurs around the globe. The aim of this company is to promote the sustainability of pure water access initiatives, and to help educate about the issues associated with promoting this. PWAP works toward these goals through a combination of physical support and consultation with organizations and people that have already established networks within the regions we aim to, or are already working in. U​sing key data analysis and research skills PWAP is able to have a broad reach with the help of the interconnected nature of the world it interacts in.

PWAP’s founding by Ohio State students paved the way for its Fellowship program that employs undergraduate students to coordinate the company’s projects and initiatives. PWAP has worked in major projects in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Ghana, with plans to begin work in Sri Lanka and Peru as well. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, PWAP assessed the effectiveness of different water filters, and worked to help construct major filters in the communities they visited, while maintaining contact with locals to ensure their sustainability. Additionally, PWAP evaluated the community’s behaviors and attitudes towards common WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) practices to determine the impact that was having on issues with water access in the communities it worked in. In Ghana, PWAP worked in a similar capacity, through consulting “Global Brigades” in researching and determining the most practical filters for it to implement in the communities it worked in.

PWAP’s future involves maintaining the strategies it has implemented in its current projects, and applying the same practices to its work in Peru and Sri Lanka. PWAP hopes to also expand its work locally and have a greater presence within communities in the midwest and through the U.S.. Through implementing successful strategies from the past, while cultivating the innovation that new Fellows and Partners will bring, PWAP’s future is bright in helping address the Global Water Crisis one step at a time.

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Trisha Barnett is a third-year business student, specializing in Operations Management at The Ohio State University’s Max. M. Fisher College of Business. She has passion for social entrepreneurship and loves the idea of using business practices to make an impact. Aside from her work in PWAP she is involved in Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship, Delta Sigma Pi, and Politics, Society, and Law Scholars. Upon graduation, she plans on pursuing a dual MPP/MBA degree.

So what happened at COP 21 & what does it have to do with the 2016 US presidential election?

There were three main takeaways from the Paris climate change talks. First, the Paris talks showed that, more than ever, there is a consensus around the world that climate change poses a threat and needs to be addressed.  None of the delegations were denying the science or arguing seriously that we shouldn’t make a serious effort to tackle the problem.  This hasn’t always been true in the past.

Second, COP 21 showed the importance of finding solutions that appeal to both developed and developing countries.  We need both groups of countries to participate in order to address the climate challenge, and the Paris Agreement seems to strike a better balance than most agreements in the past.

Third, COP 21 demonstrated the importance of climate finance.  Rich countries like the United States, Canada, Japan and those in Europe are going to have to offer more aid, loans and investments if they want developing countries to engage in serious efforts to mitigate (that is, reduce greenhouse gas emissions).  Developing countries also insist on more financial help to adapt to the impacts of climate change, which they’re already feeling.  COP 21 was successful largely because increased North-to-South financing was a big part of the negotiations.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which imposed binding targets only on industrialized countries to reduce their emissions, Paris relied on a different approach: Each country determined its own mitigation goal, known as an “intended nationally determined contribution,” or INDC.  More so than the Kyoto targets, these INDCs should match the individual circumstances and political realities in each country.  Also, unlike Kyoto, which focused on a small number of rich countries, the Paris Agreement calls for mitigation actions by almost every country in the world.  This is critical because most future emissions will come from the developing world.

The Paris approach to accountability and compliance is what might be described as a “pledge-and-review” system. Each country commits publicly to a mitigation target, or at least mitigation actions, and then they are subject to a combination of national reporting and centralized monitoring to see if they’ve lived up to their commitments.  Because the targets and actions aren’t legally binding, this is more of a political model of accountability than a legal model of compliance.  Nevertheless, the expectation is that there will be considerable pressure—from NGOs, publics and other governments—to follow through on these public pledges. The delegates in Paris also agreed that governments will be expected to increase the ambition of their commitments every five years.  This will provide regular opportunities for the application of added political pressure, domestically and internationally, to take on more serious commitments.

The success of the agreement in the United States will depend largely on the powers and political will of future presidents. President Obama quite intentionally sought a more informal agreement that could stand on its own without requiring ratification by the U.S. Senate, which is the normal procedure for formal international treaties.  That insulates the Paris Agreement from being vetoed at the domestic level.  Because he has faced so much opposition from Republicans in Congress when it comes to implementing climate policies at home, President Obama has relied on regulations under his control to reduce emissions, such as the EPA’s rules on emissions from power plants.  This means that a future president could indeed reverse many of these decisions.  The outcome of the 2016 presidential election could have a profound impact on the extent to which the United States is able to follow through on its international climate commitments.  While the United States is an important global leader, even if the future president decided to overturn President Obama’s actions, the Agreement as a whole may not be totally undermined. After all, it was adopted by 196 countries.

Alexander Thompson (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Associate Professor of Political Science and a Faculty Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University. Thompson’s research addresses the question of why states create and how they design institutions at the international level.  Recent and ongoing projects focus on the evolution of the global climate regime, the negotiation and ratification of international investment agreements, legalization in the world trade, the politics of multilateral weapons inspections, the determinants of international organization performance, and the enforcement of international law.

The slogan "FOR THE PLANET" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)