Water Conservation

Water Conservation

One of the most pressing environmental threats in the modern world is large-scale pollution of freshwater ecosystems. Lake Baikal is a unique storage of fresh water on Earth — it contains 20% of the world’s water lake resources. One of the problems that the Baikal faces today is the lack of scientific data that would serve as a basis for making state decisions in favor of protecting Lake Baikal. Our common goal is to combine efforts to preserve valuable water resources for future generations, drawing attention to the Baikal as a source of scientific data and high-tech developments.

The Foundation shares global goals for ensuring the rational use of freshwater ecosystems, which is of great importance for environmental and economic sustainability, as well as human well-being. Our priorities include providing systematic support for fundamental science and identifying promising projects of young scientists in the Baikal region.

Goals by 2025:

  • return long-term environmental monitoring of Lake Baikal to the state funding system;
  • provide systematic grant support to projects that do not receive state funding in such important areas as:
    • monitoring of anthropogenic impact on the aquatic ecosystem;
    • sanitary and microbiological assessment of water in priority areas;
    • research on the content of heavy metals in the water and endemic Baikal microorganisms;
    • research on the potential of substances synthesized by Baikal microorganisms, as useful natural compounds and antibiotics.

How do we conserve water resources:

August (annual) Water is crucial for sustainable development and human survival. With population growth and industrial and agricultural development, the demand for water is increasing but at the same time the amount of clean drinking water is decreasing. Today 2.2 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water and by 2025, 1/3 of the world's population will experience a lack of it (WHO/UNICEF, 2019). In the 21st century, the price of water will be higher than that of oil and gas. Already now a ton of clean water in arid regions costs more than oil (Sahara desert and North Africa, Central Australia, South Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia). Most global problems or solutions are water-related. The UN Sustainable Development Goals 2,3,6,7,12,13,14, and 15 are dedicated to this. Climate change and its effects, causing rising ocean levels and increased frequency of natural disasters (e.g. tsunamis and floods), which requires competent forecasting and management of water resources.Food security, which implies improved yields and efficiency in food distribution. However, global agriculture leads among other sectors of the economy in terms of water consumption.Manufacturing and energetics are other two sectors that require large quantities of water. In Russia, the energy sector ranks 1st among economic sectors in terms of water consumption. Intersectoral demand for water requires an Integrated water resources management (IWRM)Freshwater and marine biodiversity conservation, which implies reducing anthropogenic impacts on water bodies and their pollution as well as their purification.Lack of access to clean and safe water, sanitation systems, including open defecation, failure to comply with sanitation and hygiene standards leading to diseases and death. Despite its strategic importance, the value and role of water is not fully appreciated in Russia: no Water Strategy for the next period has been adopted, despite the fact that the previous document expired in 2020;experts are unanimous that the water sector is experiencing an acute shortage of highly qualified employees, including those with experience in interdisciplinary research and a systemic approach to problem-solving;water sector professions are not popular among Russian youth. At the same time, Russia ranks 2nd in the world in terms of fresh water supply. Thus, the water sector may become one of the most promising in developing Russian leadership in the international arena.  Water Week Water Week is an annual event which gathers representatives of state and local government, business, non-profit organizations, protected areas, and other economic sectors, as well as scientists, young specialists and students. The aim of the event is to increase the value and strategic role of water in Russia. Objectives: To increase interest in water issues and the level of knowledge of water management;To organize a platform for open discussion of the Water Strategy of Russia;To evaluate the results of the National Project ‘Ecology’ and its subprojects - the federal projects ‘Preservation of  lake Baikal’ and ‘Preservation of Unique Water Bodies’, and to outline the current directions of project development;To encourage the best practices in water management and water preservation, and to promote their replication;To provide a meeting platform for the Youth Parliament for water. As part of the Water Week, there are: lectures, trainings, and workshops on a wide range of topics;events to find like-minded people and partners;case-championships and hackathons for finding solutions to current issues of water sector;open dialogues of young people with representatives of authorities, business and NGOs;awards ceremony for the best initiatives in the water sector;meeting of participants of the Youth Parliament for water and election of new members;clean-up of the territory and water area. Water Week can be held as an independent event or as part of existing forums. For example, as part of the Baikal Youth Forum (Irkutsk Region), the Territory of Senses (Lake Senezh, Moscow Region); Eurasia Global (Orenburg).
March 2023 The first World Youth Parliament for Water was established under the auspices of the UN in 2003 and was timed to coincide with the Year of Freshwater. The Youth Parliament for Water in Russia will be created in 2023 as a part of the Lake Baikal Foundation. The Youth Parliament for water will unite the youth (students, young scientists, and professionals) from 18 to 35 years old from different regions of Russia. The aim of the Parliament is to deepen knowledge of water disciplines, interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, as well as to increase the interest of young people in the water field with its current issues and challenges, professions, and specializations of the water sector, providing the state with highly qualified employees. Objectives: To stimulate the exchange of knowledge, experience, and best practices among young people from different regions of Russia;To assist in cooperation to solve local and regional problems;To combine efforts to achieve the National Development Goals and the UN Sustainable Development Goals;To promote intergenerational dialogue for decision-making, building dialogue with state and local authorities;To involve young people in the discussion of the Water Strategy of Russia for the next period;To introduce organizations working in the water field;To assist in gaining practical and project work experience;To develop additional skills and competencies required for water sector professionals;To form a community interested in water issues. Areas of activity of the Parliament: Scientific research - carrying out analytical and sociological studies;Project work - creating and supervising water projects;Preparation of Water Week sessions - selection of topics and speakers;Representing Russian youth at international water events. Work format Offline – at the Water Week; online. Establishment of the Youth Parliament for water in Russia will mark a new stage in the development of the water sector, attract the attention of young people, and become an instrument for strengthening international relations.
February - March 2023 During time at a university  it is crucial not only to gain theoretical knowledge, but also to find out how it works in practice, to communicate with employees of relevant organizations and local residents, to share ideas in an informal atmosphere, and to make up your own view of the subject you are studying. The Lake Baikal Foundation organizes field trips to Lake Baikal for students of different specializations: managers, environmentalists, economists, regional scientists, lawyers, and other interested groups. Topics that can be included into the internship are: the origin, characteristics, and features of the lake and its management;natural resources of the region, biodiversity, and economic potential;the status of the lake as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site;the standard of living of the local population and their employment;the human impact on the lake;tourism, including overtourism and sustainable tourism;lake pollution to the lake and solutions to this problem;waste management;environmental projects of NGOs and CSR strategies of businesses;impacts of climate change on the lake and its inhabitants;water quality monitoring;conflicts of interest in the management of the Baikal natural area and Lake Baikal;governmental documents and programmes for the conservation of Lake Baikal;sustainable management of lakes and natural areas. The internship programme in the Irkutsk region may include a visit to: Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences;the FGBI "Western Baikal protected areas";Research Institute of Biology at Irkutsk State University;Pribaikalsky National Park;Bottled water production plant;UNESCO water resources department of Irkutsk State University;Hydroelectric power station of Irkutsk city;Baikal museum of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences;as well as excursions around the lake, road trips, ice-skating, and mountain climbing;and many other things, depending on your aims and wishes. All visits are followed by a discussion of the role of the organization in the region's economy and their involvement in the conservation of the unique natural site, as well as an analysis of scientific articles and regulations on the subject. In addition, students may be given assignments to work on a group project. Results of the work: From 11 to 17 February 2023 the Foundation organized an internship for the 3rd year bachelor students of the Global Challenges Management program at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA). The students and the administration of the university were satisfied. «Our group had the opportunity to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Lake Baikal, which was my long-held dream, and get to know the issues of sustainable management and use of its resources. Moreover, we visited relevant organizations – the Research Institute of Biology, the UNESCO Chair of Water Resources at the Irkutsk State University, Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station, and the «Legend of Baikal» – bottled water production plant – to learn how to develop the regions around the lake efficiently. This experience helped us to form our own recommendations on sustainable management of the lake, which I am sure can be applied to other water bodies as well. For me, as an eco-educator, this practice highlighted important thoughts, which I will try to convey to people. The main one is the law formulated by Barry Commoner – ‘Nature knows best’. This provided a basis for understanding how to interact with nature in the age of industrial development – not to get in its way. The moment to avoid global change has passed. Now it is important to adapt to circumstances, not to make things worse, first and foremost for us. This thesis we, as managers of global challenges, will carry to the masses and try to implement it in the production processes!».Eva Nazarova, the 3rd year student of the Global Challenge Management programme

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