Technology

Entrepreneur Mehrdad Mahdjoubi calls for action on World Water Day

Orbital Systems’ founder and CEO publishes an open letter regarding the earth’s most irreplaceable resource — and the opportunities to become world leaders in the field.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
March 22, 2021

He calls himself a water evangelist, the man behind the world’s only circular shower. Today, on World Water Day initiated by the UN in 1992, Mahdjoubi shares facts and insights, urging for action, in an open letter on the company’s website.

In the text, Mahdjoubi writes how life on earth is based on three basic assets; energy, nutrition, and water. While we have endless energy and nutrition — thanks to the sun and photosynthesis — water is a limited supply on our planet, and only 0.5% of the water is drinkable. The average person in Sweden consumes approximately 200 liters of water per day. In contrast, the UN recommends that 50 liters of water are sufficient to maintain good health and hygiene.

In many countries, Mahdjoubi continues, the lack of water is already an urgent issue. In the countries where the issue is taken seriously, a water minister has usually been appointed. Those countries have also set high goals to ensure that the problem does not end up in the shadows.

For us in Scandinavia, the glass is still half full, but if we continue to use water as we have always done, acute water shortages will be a problem here as well. Several regions have also had recurring problems with droughts for several summers in a row.

Mahdjoubi shares how Sweden and Scandinavia carry a unique opportunity that many other countries and regions lack — to anticipate a future disaster and, at the same time, create jobs and solutions that can be exported globally.

So, what to do? Mehrdad Mahdjoubi suggests three things:

1. To start with, appoint a dedicated Minister of Water Affairs. Do not let the post of Minister of Water Affairs be an emergency rocket that is sent up once the crisis has become a fact. With a dedicated leader, we can illuminate and tackle the water issue from a broader and deeper perspective.

2. Broaden the focus from production to consumption. Learn from the energy sector, which several decades ago realied that all focus could not be on digging up more coal or producing more wind power. The mindset has been successfully shifted to focus on new energy-efficient solutions and how we can reward them over energy-consuming alternatives. The conditions for applying similar principles to the water sector are excellent, according to Mahdjoubi, and we already now see the same development in countries that are vulnerable to water shortages.

3. Facing variable water prices. History shows that price mechanisms based on supply and demand work better to raise living standards. At the same time, incentives are created for more efficient use of resources. Instead of banning irrigation of lawns during the summer, it should simply cost more. Here, too, there are solutions to be obtained from other countries. For example, price stairs where the basic need is subsidized but higher consumption costs more. The point is that awareness of the price, supply and demand of our most important resource needs to be improved and we all benefit from increasing that awareness, Mahdjoubi writes.

Sweden, he concludes, has the opportunity to become a world leader in one more area that affects billions of people. 

Why not act on this opportunity?

The text, in Swedish, is available here

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