Relaxation at the World Water Forum

by Janoah Bailin

Not all of the sessions at the WWF are riveting. Such as one of the more tedious presentations on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), an all-encompassing process for approaching water that stresses: planning from a watershed level as opposed to arbitrary political boundaries, a recognition of multiple values of and uses for water, and matching various water qualities to their most appropriate use (dare I say the Human Ecology of water management? Except somehow, in this case, exceedingly boring). I began to nod off. Deciding to save myself from the shame of snapping awake too suddenly, I snuck outside to repose on the steps and enjoy the last rays of warm Marseille SUNSHINE! before the next session. No sooner had I laid my head back on my bag when a guard walked over and told me to sit up: “on va se faire engueuler” he told me – you’re going to get told off. It was a nice enough way of giving me a completely ridiculous piece of information: “I’m sorry,” I asked, “I’m not allowed to rest?”

“You can rest. But you just can’t lay down,” he explained. “Only sit.” It was probably good at that point in the conversation that I had to leave because I fear I might have had much more to say on the matter. Although I assume that there are legitimate security reasons for not allowing participants to nap on the premises, the message I gleaned was slightly more cynical: this world of big business and governments and policy can’t stand to see someone who’s not doing something for a moment. Or were they scared that, tired of dry text and formalities, one person relaxing might suddenly prompt everyone else to follow suit?

This is an exclusive forum, accessible to those who can pay or have not proven their expertise (students were given a discounted rate only after NGOs and professionals lobbied for their inclusion). Not a space for those who care to lie in the sun, for those who are not completely convinced that the constant accumulation of responsibilities and knowledge is the only method of changing this world. Basking in the nature for which we fight (be it sunlight, water, or mountain) is essential to its salvation. Otherwise, conservation becomes just another job, another duty; the environment just another product.

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