Water can make even the extremely arid Atacama Desert bloom

»Water gives life, but it also destroys«

Dear readers,
Two recently taken photos document the power of water. One of them records destruction, the other reveals growth. In one, we see Hurricane Harvey bringing torrential rain and flooding to Houston, the fourth-largest American city, and causing damage that will cost millions of dollars to repair. In the other, we see the Atacama Desert, one of the most arid landscapes on earth, where decades can pass without a single drop of rain. Suddenly it has come to life with a carpet of purple wildflowers reaching to the foot of the Andes, now that rain has fallen on its stones, sand, and scree.

We have a broad range of associations with the element of water: It gives life, but it also destroys. This breadth is also reflected in the articles of this issue of Evonik Magazine. A report from India analyzes two of the country’s crucial problems – water scarcity and water pollution – and points to solutions: methods of obtaining clean water and improving its distribution throughout the land. The Netherlands have never had to complain about a water shortage—on the contrary. The Dutch have drawn some conclusions from the storm surges and flooding they have experienced over the years. The ideas they’ve developed for living with water sound fascinating or even visionary – but that’s exactly why they often serve as models for other countries.

Businesses often incur criticism regarding their use of water, and probably no company knows that better than Nestlé. Achim Drewes, the Head of Public Affairs at Nestlé Germany, discusses the question of who owns water water with Benjamin Adrion, the founder of the organization Viva con Aqua. Martin Keulertz, an Assistant Professor at the American University in Beirut, explores the consequences of this issue for global politics. Although the title of his essay, “War over Water?”, sounds provocative, Keulertz believes there is potential for cooperation between nations that have previously had hostile relationships. Another hopeful development is the research fostered by Manfred Wilhelm, a professor of polymer chemistry at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Together with his students, he is working on new models for using superabsorbers to desalinate seawater and remove heavy metals from wastewater. The driving force behind Wilhelm’s projects is the desire to prove that something can be done.

To date, Evonik has published two magazines that are mainly directed at people outside the Group. Elements primarily reports on the Group’s research and development projects, whereas each issue of Evonik Magazine focuses on a single theme from many sides and different perspectives. Starting next year, the best aspects of these two magazines will merge—and create something completely new. This future magazine will keep the established name Elements, but it will also include the kinds of features that readers appreciate in Evonik Magazine. Be ready for some surprises!

Christof Endruweit, Editor in Chief