Sunday, May 02, 2010

General Stanley McChrystal and the 'sprawling spaghetti diagram'

China, governance and prospects for systemic change

Copenhagen in some ways could be regarded as China's coming out party. By this I mean that it has become either through choice or inescapable circumstances the key to any global-decision making. According to some reports this has caused tensions - did the Chinese Premier really in Copenhagen miss key meeetings because of the potential loss of face? Or was it a simple misunderstanding about invitations as other sources report?

Having visited China for the first time last year I am left feeling concerned with this shift in the global realpolitik, unavoidable though it is. China's emergence will present and exacerbate many systemic challenges, not least within China itself. Climate change is inextricably linked to sustainable water supply and river functioning which is in turn related to how those in poverty or ethnic minorities are treated and enabled to create livelihoods for themselves as research in the UK-based Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation Program (ESPA) is demonstrating.

In many parts of the world and in China in particular, water is in a crisis characterized by scarcity, drought, sanitation problems, occurrence of extreme events and changes in rainfall patterns and run-off. China has only one quarter of the average world water resources per person and, in some strategically important areas, such as the North China plain is exploiting its water at unsustainable rates. These pictures taken in Beijing and in the Lake Baiyangdian Catchment in Hebei Province reflect some of the contrasts that are China.