By Jim Pedderson
Despite having an interest in the environment and ecology from a young age, Colette Ashley MPP’18, like many Americans, never gave much thought to where her food came from or the resources, such as land, energy, and water, that it takes to produce it.
And, just as many Americans might be, she was surprised to learn that, on average, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the world’s water usage. It is possibly the most challenging resource to manage, plan for, and regulate. One does not have to search too long for headlines from around the world describing the latest example of excess water from storms or flooding, scarce water from droughts, or polluted water from spills, leaks, or other human-assisted events.
How countries, regions, states and local municipalities manage and govern their water resources is an often-overlooked aspect of environmental policy, but it is one that is increasingly important, as the impact from various trends – including climate change, population growth, and pollution – continue to alter and threaten the world’s water supplies dramatically.
Ashley’s interest in how countries shape policies and address the many challenges related to water resources was sparked through an internship with the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). During the summer-long internship, she conducted interviews and research, and co-authored Reforming Water Policies in Agriculture, a report that aims to provide historical lessons on the adoption and implementation of effective water management solutions.
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