This Spring, I moved to Barcelona to work with an Environmental Consultancy. I’m coming from Los Angeles, California: a city that has been facing drought for over 50 years. Growing up in Los Angeles, water conservation was embedded in the collective conscience of the city. Ideas surrounding individual & systemic sustainability had been drilled into us from a very young age. Take short showers, don’t leave the water running when you wash your hands, etc. Although not everybody makes these environmentally conscious decisions all the time, there is at least an awareness about it.
This is exactly what surprised me when I came to Barcelona. From what I have observed while living here, many people seem to not know. It’s not that there is an unwillingness to change or an abrasiveness to nature, but rather there is simply a lack of discourse around this topic. Many people are unaware that Barcelona is in dire drought conditions, with reservoirs currently holding historically low levels of water. Moreover, Only two districts of Girona and Tarragona are in a state of water normalcy. Almost the whole of Catalunya is in a state of water emergency.
If awareness around this issue is not popularized, and actionable preventative measures are not implemented, the people of Catalunya may face negative consequences. Among a multitude of threats, there would be a huge environmental impact surrounding the rivers and dams of the area. There could be negative financial and political impacts on individual people, and distribution of harm could be unevenly spread to disproportionately harm already disadvantaged communities. On the other hand, this can be an opportunity to usher in a new wave of environmental action within the Catalan governance & people. Climate justice is inextricably tied to tenets of social justice, and participation in addressing the water crisis can also address issues of gender, racial, economic, and political inequality.
Actionable measures can be taken on two levels: individual and systemic. A good place to start can be to ask: what can you as an individual do to change the current environmental conditions? We can start by improving our awareness of our own personal actions. Using less water, consciously making more water-friendly decisions, and engaging in environmental discourse within our communities. You can do this by adopting new technologies such as low-flow shower heads, or monitoring water usage within your household. If you have a garden, you may consider using less water-intensive plants, or utilizing rain harvesting methods. You can start conversations with family and friends, talking about the relevance of these issues.
On a more systemic level actionable measures may be more time consuming, but they create a significantly larger impact on the issue as a whole. This requires collaboration across Spanish regions to holistically address these issues. If you have the time and interest, you can: participate in collective climate movements, water education campaigns, and support research and political campaigns that prioritize these issues. Listed below is a collection of resources that can act as a starting place.
Sources by scale and interest:
Local Action: Specified to Barcelona
Regional Action: Specified to Catalonia
If you are interested in: