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The US also lost water, a total of 19 billion cubic meters (5.02 trillion gallons) in the period from 1985 to 2005. Ninety-five per cent of the United States' fresh water is underground. As farmers in the Texan High Plains pump groundwater faster than rain replenishes it, the water tables are dropping. North America's largest aquifer, the Ogallala, is being depleted at a rate of 12 billion cubic metres a year. Total depletion to date amounts to some 325 billion cubic metres, a volume equal to the annual flow of 18 Colorado Rivers. The Ogallala stretches from Texas to South Dakota, and waters one fifth of US irrigated land. Many farmers in the High Plains are now turning away from irrigated agriculture, as they become aware of the hazards of overpumping, and realise water is not in endless supply.Advances in technologies are now being developed to reduce the cost of desalination with lower energy membrane purification technology and water-reducing irrigation methods. Over the next five years the amount of desalinated water is projected to increase by 300 per cent. We will need to adopt these technologies and other to meet the global water shortage before it is too late. For more information, please visit: nABOUT THE AUTHORTimothy A. Hill is the Global Communications Leader for Dow Chemical's water business. In this role, he researches and studies megatrends in the water industry and has authored numerous white papers which have been presented to the United Nations and at international conferences and symposiums including the World Water Week in Stockholm and the American Water Summit. Mr Hill also serves as a member of Dow Chemical's global Water Steering Committee and is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.Water is the most precious resource in the Middle East, more important even than oil. Saudi Arabia, the most water scarce country in the world is using its US$100 of barrel oil to power thermal desalination plants to create clean drinking water. The Saudis have the most desalination plants in the world; 25 and counting. The most precious resource in the region flows in the River Jordan, or resides in the aquifers that link Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The Jordan River, once a river with rapids and waterfalls, was expected to run dry by 2011.The Jordan runs 217 kilometres from the Syria-Lebanon border, down through Israel and into the Sea of Galilee, forming the border between the Kingdom of Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west before entering the Dead Sea. The river once had a flow of 1.3 billion cubic meters a year, but that number has diminished to an estimated 20 to 30 million cubic metres. More than half of Europe's cities are exploiting groundwater at unsustainable rates. Chronic water shortages are already affecting 4.5 million people in Catalonia, where authorities are pressing for the construction of a pipeline to divert water from the Rhone in France to Barcelona.Australia is the world's driest continent. Over the years engineers have tried numerous ways to turn coastal rivers inland. Even a plan to reverse the flow of the Snowy River has failed, threatening to deprive Adelaide of fresh water. The region that the diverted Snowy River now feeds is bounded by Australia's two longest rivers, the Murray and the Darling. The water tables under this land are now rising, pushing deadly quantities of salt to the surface. The salt has already destroyed some of the country's most productive farmland. The Murray-Darling basin produces three-quarters of Australia's irrigated crops. Many of the basin's tributaries may be unusable for irrigation in 20 years' time, let alone as a source of drinking water." According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China lost 35 billion cubic meters (9.3 million gallons) of water every year over the past decade "WATER 077

REDD as a Catalyst to Drive Sustainable Land UseF orests are the lifeline of our civilisation, especially in the tropics. Tropical forests contain over half of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. They provide vital ecosys-tem services that sustain climate, water, food and energy security as well as human health and liveli-hoods from villages to mega cities. But these services have so far been unrewarded in policy and financial frameworks, making tropical forests worth more dead than alive.The annual value of services provided by forests is beyond price. It is time we implemented mechanisms that woud protect forests and reward them for their exstensive ecosystem services. One such mechanism is REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) which has been discussed and de-signed over the past few years. It is a promising mech-anism that could provide substantial funding needed to protect threatend forests. But key questions to cre-ate a functioning REDD system remain: How to fi-nance it? What level of social and environmental safe-guards are appropriate and how should they be checked? How to set forest emissions reference levels, and how to proof the resulting actions to cut emis-sions?COP17 in Durban has left the forest carbon sector, hoping for significant progress towards an operational global REDD mechanism, with mixed results. A sec-ond commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol has been agreed to start from 2013, buying time whilst a wider agreement is negotiated. This agreement on a new treaty can be seen as the policy win. For the first time, all countries including the big developing coun-try emitters China and India have signed up to deliver an agreement binding them to reduce their emissions.This matters for forests. An overarching global cli-mate agreement is needed to create the demand at scale for REDD assets. The scope for emissions re-duction from preserving and restoring forests within the overall global mitigation effort depends on deliv-ering such a treaty, scheduled to be finalised by 2015 and take effect in 2020. Only this would deliver firm reduction targets for countries and the role for REDD credits in meeting those targets. But, big question-marks remain as to how exactly REDD would fit into such an umbrella treaty - a situation which will cause uncertainty for investors and project developers for several years.Regarding REDD progress specifically, many of the technical challenges to implementing a robust REDD system are steadily being resolved, according to one of the most respected organisation in this sector - the Center for International Forestry Research (CI-FOR). However, good work towards appropriate safe-guards for forest communities has been undermined with a weak agreement on reporting safeguards per-formance, whilst the major issue of financing was ef-fectively set back another year. All funding options remain on the table including markets and private capital. Without their contribution funding will not scale to the billions needed every year to curb defor-estation within two decades. Realistically, what is hap-pening under the UNFCCC is far from what is needed to keep global warming below the 2 degree limit that science calls for, and it could be well 2020 before REDD is fully operating. So what should we do?REDD has political momentum, funds, an emerging structure and a lot of projects already on the ground. Waiting for an agreement under the UN to save for-ests in time rather seems futile. We cannot watch forests being destroyed for another decade. So the real challenge is to find a way to accelerate funding Pictured: Alexander Zang, Michael SahmAlexander Zang, Executive Board Member, Forest Carbon Group AG Michael Sahm, Director, Public Relations, Forest Carbon Group AG078 FORESTS