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This Dutch City Has Transformed Its Bus Stops Into Bee Stops

Animals

By Michiel de Gooijer


From Bus Stops to Bee Stops

In the Dutch city Utrecht 316 bus stops now have a green roof. They do not only look great, they also help capture fine dust, storage of rainwater and provide cooling in the summertime.

It is one of many measures that could improve Utrecht's air quality. Did you know that after smoking, an unhealthy environment (including bad air quality) is the second cause of diseases in the Netherlands?

Watch the video at the bottom of this article.

BrightVibes

More Biodiversity: The green roofs of Utrecht's bus stops have also become bee stops and contribute to the city's biodiversity, supporting insects like honey bees and bumblebees.

BrightVibes

Sedum Plants: The roofs mainly have sedum plants. They are maintained by municipal workers who drive around in electric vehicles.

BrightVibes

LED lights: The bus stops are outfitted with efficient led lights and a bamboo bench.

Better Buses 

Recently Utrecht has replaced 10 diesel buses for electric buses. Utrecht aims to only operate CO2 neutral buses by 2028. In the meantime, Utrecht incentivizes bus drivers to adapt to a more environmentally friendly driving style. The buses register how efficient and comfortable each bus driver operates the bus, and based on how well they drive, they can "win" prizes the cleaner, more comfortable and safer they drive.

Provincie Utrecht

More Electric Buses: Utrecht is expanding the number of buses powered by electricity. The electricity used by Utrecht comes from Dutch windmills.

Utrecht.nl

Your Own Green Roof: The citizens of Utrecht are incentivized to transform their own roofs into green roofs too and can apply for special subsidies.

And How About Bee Stings?

Speaking from personal experience, the bees are attracted by the plants and flowers on the roof, not by the people sitting underneath the roof. And as you can read here, in general bees are not aggressive at all. They are often mistaken for the more aggressive wasps, but there really is no need to fear these busy bees on these bus stop green roofs.

Reposted with permission from our media associate BrightVibes.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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