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Global water sustainability flows through natural and human challenges

other. Everybody wants something, but doesn't take a systems approach that is essential for us to see the whole picture."

Liu, who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, is a pioneer in using a holistic approach to address complex human-environmental challenges. Solutions, he says, come from looking at issues from multiple points of view at the same time. That's the way to avoid the unintended consequences that plague China's water, and a way to prevent a water crisis from becoming a water catastrophe.

In their article, they give suggestions to make the grand investment more effective and efficient, strategies that apply not only to China, but resonate on a global level. For example:

  • Shore up laws and policies with cross-organizational coordination to clarify who is in charge, and who has enforcement powers.

  • Get proactive., Evaluate initiatives, set performance criteria and engage the public in planning

  • Use social science to strengthen long-term plans by predicting people's behaviors and taking values into account.

  • Remember the world has become much smaller, and global connections such as trade and sharing of international rivers have great impacts on water sustainability and quality.

At the core, they say, is the understanding of complex human-nature interactions. Such understanding is key to achieve water sustainability in China and the rest of the world.


Contact: Sue Nichols
Michigan State University

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