St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, said Tuesday that water in the 21st century will be what oil was in the 20th, and the twin-island federation must begin to view its water resources the way that the people in other parts of the world view their oil, natural gas, or mineral deposits and to manage and marshal it for the benefit of generations to come.
“When we think about it, however, the marshaling of our water resources is even more important than the marshaling of oil, gas, mineral, or other resources. Civilizations flourished for millennia without fossil fuels and without natural gas. However, LIFE is not possible without water,” said Dr. Douglas during his weekly radio program, “Ask the Prime Minister,” which is syndicated on several radio stations.
Pointing out that the Caribbean region has many brilliant young minds, Dr. Douglas said no matter where one lives in the world, the management of the states’ water resources will continue to be of ever-increasing importance.
“I certainly hope that young people throughout the Caribbean, whose minds gravitate to matters scientific, will consider careers in the area of water engineering, sustainable water management, and so on because when all is said and done, the most valuable resource on Earth is that which we, in St. Kitts and Nevis, have for so long been least dazzled by – water,” Dr. Douglas said.
He added: “Water is needed for industry. Water is needed for agriculture. Water is needed for basic health and survival. Water is needed for everything.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister said it is anticipated that global warming will issue in periods of longer droughts, followed by periods of excessive and unrelenting rains.
“Not only do we have an obligation to get global warming under control, then – and this is something that Caribbean heads of government discussed in Roseau – but we must, in anticipation of the challenges that lie ahead globally, begin to see water with fresh, informed, and visionary eyes. It is a resource with which we are abundantly blessed – and we must marshall and manage it very carefully,” said Dr. Douglas.
He disclosed that the issue of water security was discussed at last weekend’s CARICOM Inter-Sessional by Caribbean heads of government.
“The irony is that for most of us in the federation who have been used to plentiful supplies of water all our lives, water may seem to be the least valuable of resources. As we know, however, nothing can be further from the truth. Not only is water the basis of all life – but it is well understood at the highest levels of government all throughout the world, that water in the 21st century will be what oil was in the 20th. It will be a source of great tension and conflict and wars will be fought over it, and a mad scramble is on, both within nations and between nations, to establish the rights to it,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He noted that Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt are experiencing serious tensions over water. In the United States, relations between California and Arizona are very tense, precisely because of water – ownership of it, access to it, and so on.
Dr. Douglas also noted that the Caribbean has been experiencing a drought for several weeks now, and although St. Kitts and Nevis has received bountiful rains of late, “the challenge of water security is one that we – and all nations – must now view with new eyes.”