2030 WRG in the News

Sugarnews.in: Karnataka looks at drip irrigation for sugarcane farming

Livemint – 24 May 2017, Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Tuesday said that it will take up at least 30,000 acres of sugarcane farming land under drip irrigation for a pilot project to highlight the advantages of the low water intensive agricultural practices in the backdrop of unreliable monsoon seasons and resulting droughts leading to increase in the gap between demand and supply of the precious resource.

Karnataka, which accounts for 10% of the total sugarcane produce in the country, has about 1 million acres of sugarcane under cultivation, of which around 300,000 acres are canal irrigated.

“Agriculture accounts for nearly 85% of the water consumed in the state and any incremental efficiency leads to huge savings,” said Aravind Galagali, director of Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd (KBJNL)-a state government owned body responsible for planning, investigation, execution and operation all irrigation projects coming under the Upper Krishna Project.

Reeling under its second consecutive drought year and resulting water shortages, the Karnataka government has been investing resources to reduce water consumption by the agricultural sector and promoting drought resistant alternatives like millets.

The state has over 50% of its entire area classified as drought prone and is also home to the second most arid region in the country.

The state government has been carrying out pilots in efficient water usage through projects like Ramthal drip irrigation project-touted to be the largest in the world benefitting over 15,000 farmers and 24,000 hectares.

Announcing the launch of a multi stakeholder platform between the state government and Water Resources Group 2030 on Tuesday, experts said that the rapidly growing population will see the urban water demand-supply grow from 24% in 2011 to 58% in 2030 if more efficient agricultural practices are not adopted at the earliest.

“Protecting the world’s water resources is a shared responsibility. Our work is based on collaboration among governments, financial institutions, non-governmental organisations, civil society agencies, and companies to close the gap between water demand and supply by the year 2030,” said Bastiaan Mohrmann, co-lead Asia and Middle East for 2030WRG, an advisory group that is trying to bring public-private-civil society collaboration on sustainable uses of water.

The pilot project, expected to commence around October, will cost around Rs 1.25 lakh per acre. Galagali said that KBJNL and other agencies have recommended that Rs 85,000 for infrastructure like pumps and pipes be borne by the government and Rs 40,000 by the farmer.

He added that the government has spoken to sugarcane farmers, sugar manufacturing companies and banks on the issue to help fund the farmers share of the contribution. Galagali said that sugar manufacturers have agreed to partially guarantee the loans availed by farmers for the proposed project.

B.G. Gurupadaswamy, secretary to Karnataka’s water resources department, said that they had to show the benefits of drip irrigation to farmers for the community-over 75 lakh in the state-to adopt these practices. He said that drip irrigation in sugarcane has been proven to increase the yield by 25-30%, translate into higher returns and result in higher water savings for the state.

Mohrmann added that the platform is also promoting drip-to-market agri corridor cluster concept where drip irrigation infrastructure will be connected to sustainable offtake in partnership with buyers for the produce.

Live Mint: Karnataka looks at drip irrigation for sugarcane farming

News Source: Live Mint

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Tuesday said that it will take up at least 30,000 acres of sugarcane farming land under drip irrigation for a pilot project to highlight the advantages of the low water intensive agricultural practices in the backdrop of unreliable monsoon seasons and resulting droughts leading to increase in the gap between demand and supply of the precious resource.

Karnataka, which accounts for 10% of the total sugarcane produce in the country, has about 1 million acres of sugarcane under cultivation, of which around 300,000 acres are canal irrigated.

“Agriculture accounts for nearly 85% of the water consumed in the state and any incremental efficiency leads to huge savings,” said Aravind Galagali, director of Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd (KBJNL)-a state government owned body responsible for planning, investigation, execution and operation all irrigation projects coming under the Upper Krishna Project.

Reeling under its second consecutive drought year and resulting water shortages, the Karnataka government has been investing resources to reduce water consumption by the agricultural sector and promoting drought resistant alternatives like millets.

The state has over 50% of its entire area classified as drought prone and is also home to the second most arid region in the country.

The state government has been carrying out pilots in efficient water usage through projects like Ramthal drip irrigation project-touted to be the largest in the world benefitting over 15,000 farmers and 24,000 hectares.

Announcing the launch of a multi stakeholder platform between the state government and Water Resources Group 2030 on Tuesday, experts said that the rapidly growing population will see the urban water demand-supply grow from 24% in 2011 to 58% in 2030 if more efficient agricultural practices are not adopted at the earliest.

“Protecting the world’s water resources is a shared responsibility. Our work is based on collaboration among governments, financial institutions, non-governmental organisations, civil society agencies, and companies to close the gap between water demand and supply by the year 2030,” said Bastiaan Mohrmann, co-lead Asia and Middle East for 2030WRG, an advisory group that is trying to bring public-private-civil society collaboration on sustainable uses of water.

The pilot project, expected to commence around October, will cost around Rs 1.25 lakh per acre. Galagali said that KBJNL and other agencies have recommended that Rs 85,000 for infrastructure like pumps and pipes be borne by the government and Rs 40,000 by the farmer.

He added that the government has spoken to sugarcane farmers, sugar manufacturing companies and banks on the issue to help fund the farmers share of the contribution. Galagali said that sugar manufacturers have agreed to partially guarantee the loans availed by farmers for the proposed project.

B.G. Gurupadaswamy, secretary to Karnataka’s water resources department, said that they had to show the benefits of drip irrigation to farmers for the community-over 75 lakh in the state-to adopt these practices. He said that drip irrigation in sugarcane has been proven to increase the yield by 25-30%, translate into higher returns and result in higher water savings for the state.

Mohrmann added that the platform is also promoting drip-to-market agri corridor cluster concept where drip irrigation infrastructure will be connected to sustainable offtake in partnership with buyers for the produce.

United News of India: Karnataka, 2030WRG launch platform for water conservation

News Source: United News India

Bengaluru, May 23 (UNI) In what promises to offer huge potential in ensuring judicious use of water in agriculture and its supply to urban areas, the Karnataka government and 2030 World Resources Group (WRG) today launched a ‘Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) for Water’ with representation from public, private sectors and civil society.

The Karnataka government signed the MoU today with the global body that has a mandate to protect world’s water resources as a shared responsibility and to drive large-scale transformation in water resources management.

The initiatives proposed and driven by the government MSP-Water will adopt long-term perspectives to water resources management and highlight the leadership of Karnataka in addressing pressing water issues, which will be done through public private community partnership models.

Speaking at the meeting after signing the MoU, State Water Resources Principal Secretary Rakesh Singh said Karnataka was among the country’s most water stressed States, as 26 per cent of its groundwater is over-exploited and 54 per cent of geographical area is drought-prone.

This partnership can address the issues of sustainability, equity and efficiency. ”By working with neutral catalysts such as 2030 WRG, we are working on many innovative themes of partnership models, financial mechanisms and circular economy solutions,” he said.

The key focus of this partnership is to address innovative financing and implementation models to promote drip irrigation for sugarcane farmers, in collaboration with sugar mills, financial institutions, the farming community and the government.

More than 10 lakh hectares of land is under sugarcane cultivation in Karnataka, the third highest producer of cane after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Out of this 3 lakh hectares comes under canal irrigation.

The MoU also envisages market linkages between the farming community and agri-business companies to promote water-efficient cultivation practices along a Drip-to-Market Agro Corridor (DMAC, including Ramthal MIS project in Karnataka.

It also focuses on reuse of treated urban wastewater, through a policy framework and the establishment of a Resource centre.

 

Deccan Chronicle: Karnataka: Panel aims at saving water

News Source: Deccan Chronicle

BENGALURU: To improve existing irrigation methods and agricultural productivity in the state, state government in association with 2030 Water Resources Group have come up with the idea of ‘Multi Stakeholder Platform for Water’.

On Monday a steering committee was launched with stakeholders from the public and private sector, the civil society, the industrial sector and academia with an intention to make transformations to the existing water management systems.

“This is an initiative to find a new approach to improve existing irrigation methods and agricultural productivity in the state. The 2030 WRG has provided a platform for all units of the Water Resources Department to work together on the agrarian crisis that Karnataka faces,” said Gurupad Swamy, Secretary, Water Resources department.

He added that one of the key aspects of this project is to get farmers to switch from flow irrigation to drip irrigation.

Rakesh Singh, principal secretary of water resources department said, “Karnataka is among India’s most water stressed states as over 26 per cent of its groundwater is overexploited. Two largest economically most important river basins-Krishna and Cauvery have reached the point at which water demand exceeds supply. This indicates that the state needs to adopt better water management practices.” “The Government is the lead partner in this project.”

Deccan Herald: New platform to fix water crisis

News Source: Deccan Herald

Karnataka’s urban water demand and supply gap is set to widen from 24% (2011) to 58% in 2030, according to 2030 Water Resources Group, a unique public-private-civil society collaboration.

To address this growing gap between demand and supply, the state government and 2030 WRG launched the “Karnataka multi-stakeholder platform for water” on Tuesday.

The partnership aims to transform water resources management by mobilising funds through financial institutions and identification of innovative demand-side management solutions.

“The need of the hour is for corporates to partner with farmers to create a supply chain model that helps in the economic empowerment of the farmers. When the government also partners in this model, the implementation will be more effective,” said Bastiaan Mohrmann, Co-Lead, Asia and Middle East, 2030WRG.

First in India

This is the first multi-stakeholder platform for water in India. Similar models will be replicated in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. “Karnataka is among India’s most water-stressed states. Nearly 26% of its groundwater area is over-exploited. Moreover, 54% of the geographical area is drought-prone. Unfortunately, the two largest and economically most important river basins — the Krishna and the Cauvery — have both reached a point where demand exceeds supply,’’ Rakesh Singh, Principal Secretary, Water Resources Department, said stressing the need for better water management

 

Business sector points to integration of actions as solution for water crisis

April 26, 2017 – The Business Engagement Forum was held on Tuesday (April 25) in Brasilia, and brought together experts and companies from different sectors to discuss a key theme: the efficient management of water resources in a context of scarcity. The discussants presented a series of experiences that have been developed for this purpose, but they were unanimous in pointing out that a greater integration between civil society, governments and private sector is needed so that the actions already under way are improved, scalable and serve as a basis for new solutions.

The event, which attracted about 110 people to the Ulysses Guimarães Convention Center, was an initiative of the 8th World Water Forum, held by the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) with the sponsorship of Braskem and Coca-Cola.

Click here to read more (in Portuguese) >>


[Portuguese below] Setor empresarial aponta integração de ações como saída para crise hídrica

O Fórum Água de Engajamento Empresarial foi realizado nesta terça-feira (25/04), em Brasília (DF), e reuniu especialistas e empresas de diferentes setores para discutir um tema-chave: a gestão eficiente dos recursos hídricos em um cenário de escassez. Os debatedores trouxeram uma série de experiências que vem sendo desenvolvidas com este propósito, mas foram unânimes em apontar que é preciso uma maior integração entre sociedade civil, governos e iniciativa privada para que as ações já em curso sejam aprimoradas, ganhem escala e sirvam de base para a criação de novas soluções.

O evento, que atraiu cerca de 110 pessoas ao Centro de Convenções Ulysses Guimarães, foi uma iniciativa do Grupo Focal de Sustentabilidade do 8º Fórum Mundial da Água, realizada pelo Conselho Empresarial Brasileiro para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável (CEBDS) com patrocínio da Braskem e Coca-Cola.

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Financial Express: Call for installing ETPs in economic zones

News Source: The Financial Express 

Speakers at a workshop on Wednesday emphasised the need for installing full functional effluent treatment plants (ETPs) in the economic zones of the country before industrial plants go into production.

They also said the concept of green economic zones will help attract more foreign direct investment in many sectors.

The speakers came up with the views at the workshop titled ‘Central Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) for Economic Zones (EZs) in Bangladesh’ jointly organised by Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) and German development organisation GIZ at a city hotel.

Prime Minister’s Office Chief Coordinator (SDGs) Abul Kalam Azad attended the programme as chief guest. Presided over by BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury, the workshop was also addressed by Water Resources Ministry Senior Secretary Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan, Ministry of Environment & Forests Secretary Istiaque Ahmad and 2030 WRG Asia Region Co-Head Bastiaan Mohrmann.

Terming Bangladesh as the most vulnerable country in terms of environment, Mr Azad said the government has taken the plan to establish 100 EZs across the country by 2030 where strict maintenance of CETPs is a must to protect the environment.

He said 80 per cent of waste water produced worldwide is discharged without treatment while the rate in Bangladesh is around 99.90 per cent.

However, he said there is a scarcity of human resources in the country for effluent and sludge management both in public and private sectors.

Despite having significant potential in producing electricity from sludge management, the country has not yet got any success in this regard, Mr Azad added.

BEZA Chairman Paban Chowdhury said untreated effluents harm not only surface water but also ground water in the long run affecting reserve of fresh drinking water.

Mentioning BEZA’s commitment to protect the environment for sustainable development of the country, he said CETPs in the EZs are considered a viable wastewater treatment solution for industries of all sizes and scales.

BEZA has already selected around 36,000 acres of land to establish EZs till now which will reach around 75,000 acres finally, he added.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed among BEZA 2030 WRG and GIZ to initiate a technical and knowledge-based partnership to facilitate establishment of CETPs in the under-construction EZs in the country.FE News Coverage Workshop on CETP 19 April 2017.

 

The Daily Star: Bangladesh firm to ensure RMG compliance

NEWS SOURCE: The Daily Star

BSS, Davos, Switzerland.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government was highly committed to ensuring compliance with regard to the readymade garment (RMG) industry.

“The contribution of the apparel and textile industry to our economy is immense. We are highly committed to ensure compliance with regard to labour rights, workplace safety and environmental standard in the industry,” she said.

The PM was replying to questions at a workshop titled “Shaping a New Water Economy” at the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum at Congress Centre here.

Hasina said Bangladesh’s RMG industry achieved higher compliance standards in terms of wages, workplace safety, norms, practices and harmonious industrial relations.

“There has been a 77 percent increase in basic wage.

Assessment of all the 3,780 factories as recommended by global brands and retailers has been completed,” she added.

Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Research Institute, moderated the workshop attended by heads of state and government of different countries.

The PM said Bangladesh is the second largest apparel and textile exporting country in the world. The sector employs 4.5 million workers, of which 80 percent are women. The industry accounts for 83 percent of the country’s total exports.

“We are supporting the industry to ‘go green’. Today, Bangladesh has 38 LEED certified factories. Out of the world’s top 10 green factories, seven are in Bangladesh,” she pointed out.

The premier said since 2015, the Bangladesh government has been working with 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) to achieve 100 percent wastewater treatment and increase water use efficiency as per international benchmarks in the country’s apparel sector.

PM JOINS WEF MEETING

World leaders, including Sheikh Hasina, gathered in Davos as the 47th Annual Meeting of the WEF kicked off yesterday.

The four-day meeting began at Congress Centre in Davos under the theme “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”.

President Xi Jinping of China opened the proceedings of the meeting. Hasina along with other heads of government and state joined the opening plenary and other events of the meeting.

Heads of state and government of 45 countries joined the meeting which began with a welcome address by WEF founder Klaus Schwab and felicitation of celebrity singer Shakira, among others, for her work towards promoting education.

On the sidelines of the forum, Hasina had informal interaction with the Chinese and Swiss presidents yesterday.

The WEF is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologne, Geneva. Its mission is cited as “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas”.

The Financial Express: ‘Govt firm on RMG sector compliance’

News Source: The Financial Express

HONORABLE PRIME MINISTER SHEIKH HASINA AFFIRMS HER COMMITMENT TO 2030 WRG’S BANGLADESH PROGRAM AT THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2017 IN DAVOS, SWITZERLAND

Anders Berntell, Executive Director, 2030 Water Resources Group; Sheik Hasina, Prime Minister, Peoples Republic of Bangladesh; Fernando Zavala, Prime Minister, Peru & Nomvula Mokonyane Water and Sanitation Minister

 

DAVOS (Switzerland), Jan 17 (BSS): Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday her government was highly committed to ensuring compliance in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, reports BSS.

“The contribution of apparel and textile industry to our economy is immense. We are highly committed to ensure compliance with regard to labour rights, workplace safety and environmental standard in the industry,” she said. The premier also said Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector achieved higher compliance standards in terms of wages, workplace safety, norms, practices and harmonious industrial relations. “There has been a 77% increase in basic wage. Assessment of all the 3780 factories as recommended by global brands and retailers has been completed,” she said.

The Prime Minister was replying to questions at the workshop on “Shaping a New Water Economy” in the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum at Congress Centre here. President and CEO of World Research Institute Andrew Steer moderated the workshop attended by heads of state and government of different countries participating in the WEF. Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is the second largest apparel and textile exporting country in the world. “The sector employs 4.5 million workers, of which 80 per cent are women. The industry accounts for 83% of our total exports,” she said. The premier said the factories were now working hand-in-hand with global brands and retailers to ensure international standards. Every factory had an Occupational Safety Committee where employers and workers were working together, she said.

“We are supporting the industry to ‘go green’. Today, Bangladesh has LEED certified 38 factories. Out of the world’s top 10 ranked green factories, 7 are in Bangladesh.” The Prime Minister said since 2015, Bangladesh Government had been working with 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG), more specifically, to achieve 100% wastewater treatment and increase water use efficiency as per international benchmarks in the apparel sector. She said, “Our work with 2030 WRG” is focusing on the following areas:

  • Mobilising and facilitating large-scale finance for wastewater treatment infrastructure;
  • Enhancing fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for wastewater treatment, recycling and efficient use;
  • Establishing a valuation methodology for water use across Bangladesh;
  • Improving institutional setup for water resources management,
  • Increasing private sector and civil society participation in water governance.

As a member of the High-Level Panel on Water, she said, she was committed to innovating frameworks like 2030 WRG.

UNB adds, earlier the Prime Minister along with other global leaders gathered here on Tuesday as the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) began.

The four-day meeting began at Congress Centre in Davos, a mountain resort at Graubünden in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland, under the theme ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’. On the sidelines of the forum, Sheikh Hasina had also informal interaction with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Swiss President Doris Leuthard. The Chinese President, who was accompanied by the largest delegation of his country since its first participation in an annual meeting in 1979, opened the meeting proceedings. In his speech, the Chinese President said economic globalisation powered worldwide growth and it should not be blamed for the world’s problems. In an attack on the anti-globalisation rhetoric that has led to the election of Donald Trump as the US President and the Brexit vote in the UK, he told a packed audience: “It’s true that economic globalisation created new problems but there’s no justification to write off economic globalisation altogether. Rather we should adapt to and guide economic globalisation, cushion its negative impacts and deliver its benefits for all countries.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the opening plenary and other events of the meeting along with other heads of government and state. Before the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum, WEF Executive Chairman Prof Klaus Schwann called on Sheikh Hasina.

 

EPW: From Policy to Practice – Principles of Water Governance

Source: Economic and Political Weekly (EPW)
By ROCHI KHEMKA (rkhemka@ifc.org), Regional Coordinator for Asia at the 2030 Water Resources Group
Posted: December 24, 2016


From Policy to Practice

Principles of Water Governance

The Mihir Shah Committee report lays a solid foundation for restructuring water governance in India. Yet, a few supplementary provisions could reinforce the report’s recommendations, nudging the effort towards improved water resources management.

Water in India is governed as a public good, with evolving yet disjointed awareness of its environmental, social and economic underpinnings. However, effective management of this limited resource requires a nexus approach to governance, which integrates the cause and effect of water on the environment, society and the economy. This necessitates a shift towards hydrological systems thinking and multi-stakeholder approaches. Furthermore, such approaches should be premised on data, knowledge, and information systems, which prioritize economic decision-making, currently missing in the water governance architecture of the country.

The recently submitted report of the Committee on Restructuring the Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) proposes many critical reforms to water governance, particularly on the environmental and social axes of the trinity approach. When coupled with economic prioritization to focus on interventions with the highest benefit-to-cost ratio, particularly in view of fiscal constraints, the newly proposed National Water Commission (NWC) could well deliver on the “paradigm shift” articulated in the Twelfth Five Year Plan (Planning Commission 2012).

Logic of Hydro-logical Thinking

The first step to reform is understanding the challenge, in this case, the hydrological context. The 2030 Water Resources Group (2009) projects a 50% gap between water demand and water supply in India by 2030, amounting to over 755 billion cubic meters (Water Resources Group 2009). With constraints to further supply-side augmentation because of over-abstraction and overuse of water in multiple geographies, demand-side management plays a crucial role in closing this gap.

While accounting for the realities of political and administrative boundaries, there is a need for a greater focus on hydrological and agro-ecological scales to prioritize demand-side management, covering the continuum from sub-watersheds to river basins. The interconnectedness of surface and groundwater systems, on account of the hydrologic cycle, suggests developing integrated, as opposed to fragmented, surface and groundwater emphases. With detailed hydrological mapping, sufficient granularity may be established to cover the aggregation and disaggregation of scales from village-level micro-watersheds to multistate river basins. In other words, the starting point of water governance is a better understanding of water itself.

From Awareness to Strategy Formulation

The hydrological lens of water governance can develop into an operational system when supplemented with the tools of scientific data and analysis. Equipped with these systems, relevant stakeholders can undertake actions needed to counter water scarcity and pollution.

Nonetheless, data availability in India is currently fragmented, scattered across multiple agencies, and inadequate for sound decision-making. Moreover, data gaps exist, in particular, on the interconnectivity of rainwater, surface water, and groundwater, land use, environmental flows, ecosystems, socio-economic parameters, and demographics at the watershed level. Where available, the data is often not accessible.

To foster coordinated action for better demand-side management, ease of data access by all stakeholders is vital, covering real-time data sets, remote sensing technologies, and geographic information systems (GIS), in addition to historical data and projections on water availability and quality. Over and above raw data availability, data points require analysis to feed into information systems, which in turn foster knowledge systems for action at scale. The linkages between data, information, and knowledge systems, encapsulated in user-friendly interfaces, can form the basis for the development of response strategies.

Transparency of Water Flows: Multi-stakeholder Approaches

Data transparency lends itself to collaborative approaches, as also good governance. Governance structures uphold not only transparent mechanisms, but also inclusiveness, equity and accountability.

In view of multiple stakeholders influencing and affected by water flows, spanning farmers, urban communities, industry and government, any governance framework ought to supplement government structures with inclusive and transparent stakeholder processes for joint decision-making to achieve intended objectives. Thus, hydrological mapping and data sharing should be complemented with the establishment of stakeholder councils, and with balanced participation across stakeholder groups. Such councils offer a mechanism for protection of water resources by resolving conflicts between stakeholder groups, and developing a shared vision for the use of water resources to support economic growth, social development and environmental protection. Participatory approaches may be initiated for each river basin at a minimum, ideally with higher coverage for bigger river basins along key tributaries.

Proposed Restructuring

The Committee on Restructuring CWC and CGWB’s report suggests some essential reforms in the water governance framework of the country. Calling for participatory water governance, including aquifer-based approaches, the report rightly centers the restructuring on hydrological lines, proposing that the twin entities be transformed into a new NWC, covering both groundwater and surface water issues.

The NWC’s suggested multidisciplinary approach provides much-needed focus on water challenges outside those currently analyzed by the CWC and CGWB, but which have important implications for water sustainability, such as water quality, urban and industrial water management, and river basin management, among others. It is only through a unified, cross-sectoral approach that aquifer-based governance can offer successful mechanisms for countering groundwater depletion, and for maintaining surface water flows, and water quality. The proposal to establish a knowledge network to guide the NWC’s activities says the necessary apparatus must bring in thought leaders from relevant global and national organizations. This, combined with an ongoing capacity building initiative, promises to mainstream innovation in the DNA of the NWC.

Additionally, the recommendation for data-driven approaches lies at the core of participatory governance, whereby stakeholders are provided the scientific ammunition to assess local water issues for informed decision-making.

While the report lays a solid foundation for restructuring water governance in India, which merit inclusion by the government, a few supplementary pillars can reinforce the recommendations to shift the proverbial needle towards improved water resources management, as outlined below.

Watershed Vision and Planning

A primary step in this direction is the development of watershed vision documents, which highlight key goals for each watershed, prioritizing socio-economic development alongside ecological protection, which is often overlooked in water resources planning. For meaningful transformation, watersheds could be defined at the tributary scale for large river basins, such as the Ramganga and Hindon, or at a minimum of 1,00,000 hectares to promote strategic solutions thinking.

In addition to inputs from the NWC, the development of such watershed visions could crowdsource information from stakeholder councils or platforms, supported by NwC. Stakeholder involvement from the start simplifies the alignment of interests and initiation of actions.

Economic and Integrated Decision-making

Another important pillar of water governance relates to ensuring economically sound and cost-effective solutions. Hydro-economic analysis integrates the costs, benefits, and risks of various solutions, aimed at enhancing the economic productivity of water. Such analyses provide a common language for decision-makers to choose between policy choices and competing investments. For example, 80% of the projected water gap in 2030 can be closed by low-cost agricultural measures, including no-till farming, crop protection technologies, and reducing over-irrigation, among others. These measures obviate the need for expensive, supply-side interventions, such as the construction of dams, interlinking of rivers, and lift irrigation schemes, providing a net surplus both hydrologically and fiscally.

Hydro-economics is most effective in the analysis of opportunity costs. Circular economy solutions, such as recycling and reuse of water, emerge as favored solutions over freshwater abstraction, when economic feasibility is incorporated into hydrological assessments. In particular, integrated decision-making allows for an analysis of synergies and trade-offs between water, agriculture, energy, environment and livelihoods. Accounting for this nexus ensures the economy adopts a sustainable development pathway—socially, economically, and environmentally.

Technological improvements for water use efficiency and waste water management may serve as vehicles to accelerate economically effective transformation.

Governance reform needs to keep pace with technological advancements in agricultural, urban, and industrial water management. The NWC should institute an research and development (R&D) wing, which promotes technology acceleration across sectors in partnership with universities and research organizations. This wing could also work towards necessary financing solutions to promote technology use, mobilizing financial markets funds to supplement government subsidies where a business case for such funding exists. This would be particularly relevant in agriculture, where technology use leads to higher incomes through productivity increase, driving economic growth with water efficiency.

A related aspect links to agricultural market linkages, whereby partnerships with agribusiness companies are established to mitigate growing supply chain risks and reduce the indirect water footprint of agribusiness companies. Public-private-community partnerships are the cornerstone of programs such as Public Private Partnerships for Integrated Agricultural/Horticultural Development (PPP-IAD/PPP-IHD), promoted by the governments of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, among others. Such partnership models provide economic benefits to farmers and supply chain actors, and ensure sustainability of interventions, including effective utilization of the irrigation infrastructure created.

In addition to collaboration across communities and agribusiness companies, partnerships such as these demand cross-departmental government coordination, with the involvement of entities to do with water resources, agriculture, horticulture, rural development, and finance, among others. Early alignment with other departments will integrate the water dimension within agricultural demand-side management, with better upstream linkages to irrigation infrastructure and downstream linkages to markets, providing income enhancement opportunities for farmers. Considering 80% of freshwater is used for agricultural purposes in India, there is a need for systems thinking in the sector for water-efficient growth.

Urban and Industrial Water Business Models

Urban water management suffers from inadequate infrastructure. A staggering 78% of waste water is estimated to be untreated nationally (Center for Science and Environment 2016). Where such infrastructure exists, there is poor operations and maintenance, negating the effect of millions of rupees spent on infrastructure creation.

The proposed NWC Urban and Industrial Water Division could serve as an incubation cell for business models and revenue-generating opportunities, particularly for waste water treatment and reuse, evaluating the financial viability of reuse, proximity of reuse from the point of treatment, as also closed loop models, thereby promoting energy efficiency and nutrient recovery.

With the articulation of policy reform and institutional mechanisms, the crucial next step is supporting the implementation of solutions at scale. Effective implementation requires a combination of, first, behavior change by millions of individual households and farmers, as also industrial players, through decentralized solutions, and second, catalysts to enable such change.

The differentiating factor of catalysts is their transformative agenda, vision, and neutrality. Such development partners are a category distinct from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and often support partnerships across multiple community organizations to implement solutions. The NWC’s partnerships framework would benefit from including international and national catalysts to facilitate scalable solutions.

Effective implementation equally warrants a dedicated financial institution to support large-scale demand-side management and innovative financing—a “National Bank for Water Management,” a National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)-equivalent entity, exclusively mandated to support solutions for water sector transformation. The NWC proposal could brainstorm the creation of such an institution to prioritize water sector financing.

Adapting to (Climate) Change

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report (2016) lists failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation as the most significant risk by impact. The effects of climate change are increasingly recognized through its associated risks of financial, material, and ecological losses. A seminal World Bank report highlights the centrality of water to climate challenge, arguing that, “Achieving nearly every one of the SDGs [sustainable development goals] is dependent on solving the water problem” (World Bank 2016).

Ignoring climate challenge can undermine water sector investments and existing capacities. Addressing the challenge, on the other hand, requires a multi-pronged approach, which goes beyond forecasting climate change events to preparing the agrarian, urban, and industrial economies, as well as ecological functions, to respond to such events. It is estimated that 65% of projected climate change losses may be averted through cost-effective adaptation investments (ECA 2009).

In light of these issues, the NWC’s proposed Water Security Division would benefit from an expansion in role to cover Climate Adaptation. Commencing with vulnerability assessments and scenario modelling, the division’s responsibilities require surpassing such initial analyses to cover the design of effective policies and incentives for long-term climate change-oriented actions, channelization of capital flows to climate-resilient infrastructure, and formulation of appropriate responses to climate events. Although response strategies usually lean towards built or grey infrastructure, there is a growing body of work that highlights the benefits of nature-based solutions, providing ecosystem services along with safeguarding environmental systems.

Impact-based Monitoring

The above arsenal of information and knowledge systems, including climate adaptation tools, together with effective communications instruments, offer the dual advantage of prioritizing action, while providing a framework for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) through standardized metrics. Water governance, thus warrants ongoing M&E for assessing the success of interventions and undertaking corrective measures in case of shortfalls. A gradual move from outputs or rupee-based monitoring towards cubic meters- and impacts-based monitoring is indispensable for the effective design of solutions.

The alignment of science, stakeholders, and economics for governing a country’s water resources is a continuous process. A successful governance blueprint is one that provides the right foundation, along with the flexibility to adapt to changing priorities. This requires a delicate balance of combining top-down policy with bottom-up practice, institutional structures with stakeholder processes, and robust planning with course correction.

Navigating the arc from vision to action starts with recognizing the need for change. And this is where the proposed restructuring of water governance in India provides a welcome opening.

References

Center for Science and Environment (2016): Down to Earth.

ECA (2009): “Shaping Climate-resilient Development: A Framework for Decision-making.”

Planning Commission (2012): “Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth,” Vol 1, Twelfth Five Year Plan; http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/planrel/12thplan/welcome.html.

Water Resources Group (2009): Charting Our Water Future, 2030.

World Bank (2016): “High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy.”

– See more at: http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/52/water-governance/policy-practice.html