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On 8 March, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, the seminar “Meet the Glaciers” was presented. As a series of events that combined music, paintings, science, and policies together, the goal of the events was to shape water consciousness worldwide with the issue of climate change, governance, and ecological paradigm in the civic society. The following article introduces the invited speakers at our events.
Adopting an Integrated Manner: What do glaciers mean to humans?
Delphine Magara is the former president of The Water Initiative, which is associated with the Graduate Institute Geneva aimed at promoting water associate debates. Students and young professionals in the Water Initiative are all from different academic backgrounds with various expertise, but one thing in common for them is that they all passionately care about water-related issues.
They adopt a humanistic way to reconsider water and its role in our life. Topics they discuss range from water security to water and sanitation, from lake conservation to water distribution. Besides these inspiring discussions, the Water Initiative is also committed to practical actions in local communities. Through programs like Lake Clean Up, they strive to raise awareness about the importance of water for every person.
This time, the Water Initiative will bring reciprocal seminar series called “Meet the Glaciers” to bring a more humanistic and artistic way for people to resonate with the being of glaciers, and hence to realize the importance of glaciers in our life.
Compared with other water bodies such as oceans and lakes, glaciers are rarely addressed in a comprehensive way. When it is related to climate change issues, people often simply regard it as a passive victim of the increased global temperature. However, Delphine has pointed out that if we view glaciers from a more integrated perspective, they actually hold a very complex relationship with human beings and with climate change.
For example, glaciers play an important part in many local cultures. They are used in rituals and related to spirituality. Also, scientific evidence has proven that glaciers are embedded with our human history. Recently under the influence of climate change, more and more ancient animal remains and human artifacts have been released from the permafrost and glaciers. Hence, with the swift destruction and erosion of glaciers, we human beings are not just losing glaciers, an important environmental resource, but also losing one of our closest friends who are able to witness our history.
As Delphine has emphasized, we should not only use a humanistic approach, but also a truly integrated manner of including glaciers' value in hydropolitics. This means that water governance and security notions should go beyond the functional and economical values of all water bodies. Regarding this, Delphine is currently doing her research on “Alpine Glacier Governance for Transboundary Water Security”.
All in all, what glaciers can mean to us is more than we can imagine, and it is time for us to integrate anthropological, scientific, political, and humanistic perspectives, so as to gain more edification for our future relationship with glaciers.
How Should We Protect the Environment?
Jean Chamel held a PhD from the University of Lausanne. He had 10+ years of experience in the area of Socio-Environmental Sustainability and International Affairs. Interested in how to use art and rituals, he joined “Meeting the Glaciers” as a storyteller.
As Jean has said, to protect the environment, actual actions are more important than vocal advocations. An example of action is to reduce car drives, but much more need to be done. We need to “try everything.”
This time, Jean hoped to interact with other natural entities instead of staying at a relatively distant place from them. To try other forms of relationship with high mountains and glaciers, Jean often went mountain climbing with his families.
The Intersection between Music and Water
As an ASIC Design/Verification Engineer at Cogito Instruments SA, Örs Málnási-Csizmadia is at the same time a semi-professional DJ. He has played music since elementary school when he learned the flute. During his high school years, he started playing bass, which then lied the foundation for his interest in metal music later.
As Örs has said, during the pandemic, music becomes what people can emotionally reply on. This is also how he got back to music playing. He began playing classical guitar and electronic music during the pandemic. Instead of metal music, his music style turns to be more chill, calm, and melodic nowadays, with the influence he got from the music of various places in the world, including Arabia, India, and Southeast Asia.
In Geneva, there is a community called Bonfire, in which the artists are able to communicate ideas with each other. At there, Örs began to be conscious of the role of water in his life. In Örs’ words, although he has started swimming semi-professionally since he was 3 years old, he has never so deeply realized what water means to himself, both physically and conceptually. He also states that he would like to participate in the river cleaning even held by the Water Initiative in the near future.
This time, in “Meet the Glaciers” seminar, Örs will use the sound of water, such as forest raindrops, city rains, vapers, and so on, to add rich layers to the whole musical piece. The whole work will be divided into three stages. The first one is to play electronic music; the second is to combine music with other different art forms, including live painting and dancing; finally, the third would be to publish and exhibit the music set, paintings, and other artwork involved in the whole event.
Overall, by focusing on the topic of glaciers, the “Meet the Glaciers” seminar will bring an artistic way for people to emotionally resonate with the being of glaciers, and hence to realize the importance of glaciers in our life.