The Visual Capitalist just published a great map on the drainage basins of the World’s Longest Rivers. Drainage basin for geomorphology, or catchment area for hydrology, means the area where the water flows downstream and finally reaches the sea.

It is clear from the map that many drainage basis do not follow the country boarders. For example the Nile River systems covers as many as 11 countries.  Therefore, if you wish to protect the river or negotiate about the use of water resources or building dams, you need international cooperation. If one wishes to assess the water protection polices, in some cases assessing the international cooperation mechanisms might be an important precondition of the protection.

Government external auditors not only audit their governments actions but sometimes do also cooperative audits with their peers.  Environmental topics are very fruitful for such a cooperation because environmental problems don’t respect country boarders. One good starting point for cooperation is a shared ecosystem or a river catchment area.

Cooperative audit on the protection of Lake Chad is a powerful example of a cooperative audit. The marvelous video visualizes in an engaging way how the intensified use of natural resources and environmental, social and economic problems are deeply intertwined and sow seeds for conflict. Audit Offices of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon audited their countries’ actions as well as the Lake Chad Basin Commission overseeing water and other natural resource usage in the basin. Cooperative audit found that the Commission does not fully discharge its duties due to the fact of clear mandate, inadequate organization and poor optimization of resources. The audit pointed out that if no action is made, the whole lake might disappear.

By the way, Lake Chad is an endorheic basin and does not have an outlet to the sea.

Exactly a year ago we didn’t go to the office anymore. One thing that pandemic has taught us by now, on an anniversary of the WHO’s declaration of pandemic, is to sit in endless zooms and teams and meets. It has been amazing to see how the international cooperation has kept on going in digital platforms. It is also fantastic to estimate the amount of avoided greenhouse gas emissions that has been saved. But for those who anticipate there won’t be any need for any face-to-face get-togethers in the future, I have one geographical news to tell.

Organizing a meeting with Europe and Africa is like a dream with those same beautiful meridians crossing our continents. Combining one with either Americas or Asia is fine, but if you want to do both, forget the office hours. Include the Pacific and someone has to stay awake in the middle of the night. Anyone working on a truly global business must puzzle how to execute power on someone’s bedtime.

Only a year ago the currency converter was one of my favorite apps. Now it is the time zone converter. Or as a matter of fact, I only rarely need it anymore since by now I know the mathematics by heart. I’ve also learned that it is easier to keep people involved late in the evening than to get them out of bed very early in the morning. So, if it is 7 a.m. in Ottawa, it is 7 p.m. in Jakarta. That’s not bad at all, but 6 and 6 is already worse. Add Wellington, and the meeting starts there in the middle of the night, at 1 a.m. It would be unfair to expect sharp comments or innovative brainstorming in such an hour. 

No matter how digital we get and how fancy tools and gadgets we have, our planet is still a round one and the sun does not shine everywhere at the same time. We keep on having the time zones.

Die Erde wall map

Die Erde – a school map, which I bought from a market place in a small municipality of Mettlach in Saarland, Germany. It is now on our kitchen wall and I simply don’t get bored marveling at it. Mettlach is close to the boarders of Luxembourg and France. A reason to go there is the headquarters of ceramics factory Villeroy & Boch – and random impulse purchasing of big maps. I still regret I did not buy the massive one on Pacific Ocean. Such a huge blue map! But the Pacific was simply too big. The largest and deepest of all.