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Global Grabs for Water and Land

Global Grabs for Water and Land

This is the first in a series of posts that attempt to pose the question: What role might technology play in some of the most pressing sustainability problems today? In exploring this, I am explicitly attempting to move beyond a focus on affluent western single homeowners (Aw Shucks). This article describes a new global trend- a global power for limited resources.

The top water-grabbing nations by volume are China, Egypt, India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States, and some of the most grabbed countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Another take, specifically on American farmers buying up land in Brazil. Good for the economy? Bad for locals? Perhaps most importantly, this issue is a big unknown — who owns what land, where, and who stands behind the owners (in some cases) appears to be a very muddled issue.

Even setting aside the question of who owns the land (and the disclosure of this data, which is likely to be an issue requiring international policy making), the impact of a land purchase in terms of water access (and/or contamination), groundwater use (and/or contamination), and soil quality may not be immediately obvious or easy to predict. While much of this depends on the intended use of the land, the areas affected can be estimated based on data about nearby rivers, and streams, historical reactions to different types of land use in similar settings, and so on. There could be value in exploring how this information might be provided and collected prior to purchase decisions being made. Given better, centralized data about ownership and use even more might be done including mapping out the connections between parcels of land and  locations of owners.

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