2030 WRG in the News
As erratic weather patterns and depleting resources complicate the many factors of food security in India, change is coming, from ground up
The 3.75-acre sugarcane farm of CV Kumar is green. The 55-year-old farmer in the village of Holalu in Karnataka’s Mandya district is all smiles as he talks about how the yield of his land has doubled—from 40 to 45 tonnes per acre to more than 80 tonnes per acre. His input costs have reduced significantly as well, with fertiliser requirements falling by 50 percent, and water by 40 percent. His new-found confidence now enables him to grow paddy on another 2 acres, and a variety of vegetables for subsistence.
The secret to Kumar’s farming success—which has now caught the eye of the government, which is expected to announce policy measures soon—lies buried under a foot of soil on his land: Thousands of metres of plastic pipelines that drip water and water-soluble fertilisers in a controlled and concentrated manner near the roots of his crops. Not only do they help the crops grow better—with the right amount of water and nutrient at the right time—they drastically reduce the amount of water required to grow sugarcane (traditionally grown by flooding the fields) and the amount of fertilisers leaching through the soil and increasing its toxicity.
The health of the planet and that of humans have always been inextricably entwined. But never have they faced the strains they now do. For, while, on one hand, food production is sucking up natural resources like never before and is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation, on the other, it is the pressing need to feed nutritious food to a burgeoning global population, significant portions of which remain underfed and undernourished.
Adding to this equation is the looming presence of climate change, which brings in its wake erratic heat and rain patterns, and extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding. Given India’s growing population—currently at 1.3 billion, it is expected to be the most populous country, ahead of China, by 2027—and the increasing effects of climate change the country has been experiencing, ensuring food security and environmental sustainability are two forces that could be perceived to be pulling in opposing directions.And yet, ensuring one is the means of ensuring the other.
Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their preferences and dietary needs. It stands on the four pillars of availability, access, utilisation, and stability, which means that production of vast quantities of food alone is not enough.
“After the Green Revolution, India has had sufficient production of food,” says RV Bhavani, director, Agriculture Nutrition Health Programme at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai (MSSRF). “The access that people have to food, through distribution systems, has always been a problem.” Leakages in the public distribution system (PDS), for instance, is one of the reasons why food does not reach the people who are most in need of it.Loss of produce between the farm and consumers—in India the figure stands at an estimated 40 percent—is another major reason why food does not reach end-users. “In our country, we don’t encourage the use of frozen and processed food, and instead prefer fresh food. But it is not possible to transport and distribute all the produced fresh food before it goes bad,” says Vandana Singh, CEO, Food Security Foundation India. “What we need are good storage facilities, means of transportation, and processing plants to reduce wastage at the farm level.”
One of the lasting legacies of the Green Revolution has been the shift away from a diverse variety of crops, and the dominance of food crops such as wheat and rice, and cash crops such as cotton and sugarcane. Consequently, cultivation of indigenous varieties of cereals and grains, such as millets and sorghum, barley and buckwheat has been relegated to the sidelines. Along with issues related to market linkages—these enable farmers to sell their produce, and that produce to be stored, transported and distributed to consumers—shrinking consumer demand has further reduced the farming of these crops.
“Food security includes nutritional security. In this regard we are far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals that have been set by the UN General Assembly for 2030,” says Bhavani. “Diets in our country are primarily cereal based, which account for basic calories and protein. But there are high levels of micronutrient deficiency. Agricultural policy has focussed on cash crops, not on nutrition. At laboratory research levels also, rice, wheat and cotton remain in focus, not millets and pulses.”
Adding to these existing conditions are the problems being caused by climate change, with rising temperatures, erratic rain patterns, and extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods. An August 2019 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says rising temperatures will reduce yields and nutrient content of crops, while changing the distribution of pests and diseases.
Another legacy of the Green Revolution has been the indiscriminate use of water and pesticides to grow high-yield varieties (HYV) of crops; HYV of wheat produce 40 percent more than traditional varieties, but require 300 percent more water to grow. With many state governments subsidising water and electricity to farmers, the latter has not seen much reason to rationalise their use.
“Of the total water usage in our country, 85 to 90 percent is for agricultural purposes. But more competitive uses are now coming up, with sectors such as services, industries and urban areas vying for water,” says Ajith Radhakrishnan, India country coordinator and senior water resources management specialist with 2030 WRG, a World Bank initiative, adding that subsidised urea prices have resulted in its excessive use. This despite the fact that almost 90 percent of it is lost as it leaches through soil, adding to the nitrate toxicity of ground water and rivers.Radhakrishnan adds that the indiscriminate sinking of borewells by people on their private lands over the last decade has severely depleted ground water levels. According to the 5th Minor Irrigation Census conducted by the Central Ground Water Board, and released this June, the groundwater level in India has declined by 61 percent between 2007 and 2017; of the extracted water, 89 percent is used for irrigation. This depletion has been the most significant in Northwest India.
Along with depletion of ground water, “the prevalent farming practices have led to increased soil salinity in Punjab, which is not sustainable”, says Bhavani of MSSRF. “Dr Swaminathan [known as the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’] had, in fact, warned that excessive use of pesticides and water would affect soil and plant health.”
Focus on crash crops has also reduced household food and nutritional security, with farmers growing only those crops that are expected to bring in money. This has led to a predominance of mono-cropping. “More than 50 percent of the land in the Vidarbha, Jalgaon, Marathwada and Pune regions in Maharashtra is under cotton cultivation. But farmers can’t eat cotton,” says Sangram Salunkhe, regional coordinator (west and south), Action for Food Production (Afpro). “If there is a crop failure, neither do they have cash to buy food, nor do they have food crops that they can eat.”Multi-cropping and crop diversification is not beneficial just for humans, but also for the crops themselves. Large-scale cultivation of a single crop also makes it highly vulnerable to pests, says Tomio Shichiri, the India representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation, “with diseases turning into epidemics”.
Working towards ensuring the various aspects of food security are organisations at various levels that are cultivating ways to harness the benefits of traditional forms of farming and cropping patterns, as well as technological advancements that reduce the demands on natural resources. Through long-term projects that partner with private and public players, these organisations are raising awareness and knowledge among farmers, enabling the funding of technology adoption, and creating market linkages.
For instance, Afpro has been working in about 500 villages in Maharashtra to raise awareness about proper conservation and utilisation of ground and surface water through the creation of farm bunds (barriers for harvesting surface water), and farm ponds. “We are focusing on crop cultivation and farming systems, to encourage practices such as crop rotation, mixed cropping that includes food crops, and reduction of input costs,” says Salunkhe. The last, he adds, is being achieved by rationalisation of inputs such as water, fertilisers and pesticides.
Earlier, farmers would apply these inputs with little awareness of whether the crops actually need them. “Through frontline demonstrations and training sessions, we have taught them methods to test their soil, so that they know what the level of potash or urea is,” he says. “They apply fertilisers when the levels are low. Similarly, they have learnt how to analyse the levels of pest infestations, and apply pesticides only when necessary. This has brought down input costs by about 40 percent.”
The work that is taking place in four districts of Karnataka—Bagalkot, Mandya, Chikmagalur and Gadag—is an example of a multi-stakeholder approach to promoting the adoption of new technology, such as drip irrigation, in the cultivation of crops that includes water-intensive varieties such as sugarcane. After the Karnataka government approached 2030 WRG—an initiative under the World Bank Group that brings together public, private, and civil society stakeholders to improve the management of water resources—memorandums of understanding were signed by 14 private companies, the state’s departments of agriculture, horticulture and water resources, and the state government in 2017.
Laying the drip irrigation pipelines costs between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh per acre (depending on the kind of crop, and soil conditions), on which the Karnataka government gives a 90 percent subsidy. “Operation and management [O&M] charges for the first five years of the project are borne by Jain Irrigation and Netafim, two private companies that were brought in to lay the drip irrigation infrastructure,” says Mandar Nayak, member of 2030 WRG’s Karnataka team. “The farmers have been organised into Water User Associations, which will collect water charges to be used for O&M of the project water pipelines after the five-year period is over.”
The projects cover close to 90,000 hectares and 1.44 lakh farmers, who grow a variety of crops, including Bengal gram, green gram, maize, cotton and pigeon pea. “It is important to demonstrate to farmers the benefits of drip irrigation,” says PV Joshi, a senior agronomist with Jain Irrigation, who works in the Malavalli taluka of Mandya district. “They have had bad experiences before, with government projects being started but not being implemented. So winning their trust is crucial.”
Farmers implementing the drip irrigation systems draw water from existing borewells on their lands, since the water needs to be pumped into the pipelines at a consistent pressure, and this is not possible with water from canals distributing river water. So although the demand for borewell water is halved, it still exists, and continues to deplete an already-stressed water table. To address this issue, Jain Irrigation is now building a system—consisting of an extensive network of pumps and pipelines—that will be able to distribute water from the Cauvery river in a manner that can be used for drip irrigation. The system is expected to be fully operational by early next year.
Following the success of the Karnataka project, the Maharashtra arm of 2030 WRG approached public and private players to begin a similar initiative in the state. “The project was started this May, and has 15 private and public players, including representatives of industry bodies,” says JVR Murty, consultant with 2030 WRG. “The project is sponsored by the CSR arm of ITC.”
The project covers areas in the districts of Pune (67,000 hectares), Sangli-Solapur (20,000 hectares), and Yavatmal (7,000 hectares), and approximately 40,000 to 50,000 farmers. “Unlike Karnataka, which was a greenfield project where they had to build irrigation systems, the areas in Maharashtra have existing irrigation options such as canals and wells,” says Murty. “Our aim is to bring 60 to 70 percent of the covered areas under drip irrigation systems, including sugarcane farmers.”
Local NGOs have been included to carry out a survey and analysis of the area, following which there will be capacity-building initiatives. “Along the lines of the Ramthal project in Karnataka, this too is for a time-frame of three years.”
Working over longer timelines are organisations such as Professional Assistance for Development Action (Pradan), which works particularly among tribal and vulnerable groups to promote sustainable livelihoods. It aims to evolve the entire development ecosystem by collaborating with the government and donors. Pradan works with more than 7 lakh families in 7,920 villages in seven states; about 70 percent of these people belong to vulnerable groups such as Dalits and indigenous communities.
By channelling interventions through women self-help groups (SHGs), Pradan promotes sustainable and organic farming methods, multi-cropping and crop diversification. “Empowering women farmers is key to ensuring food security,” says Sailabala Panda of Pradan, who works in the Rayagada district of Odisha. “Earlier, they did not know what rights they had on the land, and on the produce. But through social mobilisation, we have been able to improve their knowledge and skills, and also their income and standards of livelihood.”
While tobacco was the primary crop cultivated in the region till 2008, now small farmers grow a variety of fruits and vegetables that they are able to sell on their own, or consume themselves. Training and workshops through SHGs have also made women understand how to manage their finances, apply for loans, and gain a decision-making position in their families, and in society.
Back in Mandya’s Holalu, Kumar and his son Chandru stand on the terrace of their pumping station, surveying the expanse. Despite being the first convert to drip irrigation in the region for sugarcane, six years ago, he still farms paddy by flooding the field with canal water. Installing a drip irrigation system for paddy is a more expensive proposition, and the pipelines need to be rolled up for each harvest since they can be damaged in the process, and re-laid for sowing; for sugarcane, the pipelines remain in place for up to five years since it is a ratoon crop.
Till the middle of August, the farmers had expected this to be a drought year. But then the rains arrived, and filled the rivers and dams. Peacocks now call in the distance as clouds gather over the vast expanses of lush farmlands. It will be a good season. But Kumar has enough experience to know it may not always be so. And change, perhaps, is on the horizon.
NEWS SOURCE: Forbes
By Dominic Waughray, Managing Director, World Economic Forum
2018 is coming in as the fourth hottest year since records began and the second costliest year ever for extreme weather impacts. It wasn’t an outlier. According to NOAA and NASA the twenty warmest years on record have all occurred since 1995; the five hottest have all come in the 2010s. Meantime, our ocean – which absorbs 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – is warming and becoming more acidic faster than any time in the last 300 million years.
We are seeing catastrophic impacts on our coral reefs as the first indicator of this acid bath. The equivalent of one garbage-truck a minute dumping plastic waste in the sea adds to the intolerable stress we are placing on life under water. Meanwhile much of life on land is facing mass extinction – the WWF 2018 Living Planet Report shows, incredibly, that humanity has wiped out vertebrate populations across animals, fish and birds by 60 percent on average between 1970 to 2014.
We cannot ignore these facts. They have enormous implications for our economy, society and politics. Of the nine billion people that will soon inhabit the planet, more than two-thirds will live in cities, often in coastal areas. Many children born today – even those in relatively richer countries – will quite literally not be able to weather the storms, pollution and collapse of nature that lie ahead. “Hothouse Earth” could trigger a hotbed of anger.
You may feel you have heard this all before. Maybe. But perhaps you didn’t hear this bit. Scientists told us two incredible new things in 2018. First, we have just twelve years left to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. Second, and as a result, we are getting dangerously close to crashing ourselves out of the Holocene era – the not too hot and not to cold “goldilocks” equilibrium in Earth history we have enjoyed for the last 12,000 years and which has allowed us humans to flourish. Through our own doing, we have been pushing all the boundaries for planetary instability.
The good news is we may not be as dumb as Jane Goodall fears. The hard exit from the Holocene might be avoidable.
This is linked to how our global politics is changing. Driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Globalization 4.0 is forcing our old global conventions to give way to new ones; and for top down governmental ways of doing things to morph into more agile, “multi-actor” arrangements. The push back against rising inequality and job insecurity, driven by the global forces of technology change, is forcing domestic leaders to think again about how international agreements work and who should be involved to make them better. This revolution is sweeping through the global environmental agenda too. The old order, which is proving insufficient to deliver the scale of environmental action we now need is giving way to the new.
What is changing?
Firstly, we have realized that governments and international organizations, while vital for agreeing global targets like the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, cannot deliver them all alone. No matter how much money an environment ministry is given, it cannot solve these problems on its own. Instead, we are recognizing it will take an unprecedented level of collaboration and innovation involving many outside the public sector to trigger the big, systemic changes required to achieve these ambitious goals. The good news is that most in the environmental agenda now agree.
Secondly, and as a consequence, we are seeing – after years of unwillingness from international environmental diplomats to throw open their doors – a sea change in public-private and civil society collaborations to help solve our most pressing environmental problems like climate change, ocean health and biodiversity loss. What were once viewed a bit condescendingly as non-state-actor “side events” at big government summits are now seen as the main-stage examples of environmental action.
And thirdly, with the rapid technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will also be able to harness new means of monitoring, verifying and reporting the progress (or not) of global, regional and industry actions on climate and the environment– potentially through radical new forms of distributed information transparency and real time disclosures. Such increased transparency will increase awareness and the pressure to act. Ironically, just as the desire for international cooperation starts to fracture, such new technologies are helping to put global environmental action collaboration and pollution disclosure on steroids.
Perhaps also driven by necessity, this opening up of the global environmental agenda for new partnerships to combine with new technologies, is breaking down our old environmental order and shaping a new approach to secure our global environmental commons – a New Deal for Nature is on the rise.
Many of the partnership building blocks already exist: they include international public-private partnerships like the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, RE100, the Energy Transitions Commission, the WRI-C40 Coalition for Urban Transitions, the Food and Land Use Alliance, the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, the Friends of Ocean Action, the Global Battery Alliance, Grow Asia, the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders and the new Global Plastics Action Partnership. At our recent Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York, we helped many of these and others to “accelerate” their reach and impact.
Many businesses and governments already understand the benefits of joining collaborations like these. Working together in partnerships allows more to be achieved than if each worked alone. The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition and the 2030 Water Resources Group are good examples of sustainable, national market-building at work through public-private collaborations. More companies, more governments and more young people must join or add to these efforts. The next step will be to encourage new clubs of like-minded governments, sub-national jurisdictions and new platforms for policy and public-private partnership to also emerge, for example in the “hard to abate” industry sectors like cement, steel, chemicals and shipping.
Many younger people concerned about the environment, and at the beginning of their career path, also realize that championing innovations in the sustainability sector can offer them the chance of a lifetime. While their elders may have created or joined campaign groups and NGOs, many younger entrepreneurs are harnessing today’s technologies to create a slew of purpose-based business models, B-corps and other innovation-driven solutions to help solve the climate and environmental crisis. The Forum’s Global Shapers community, active in almost 400 cities in more than 150 countries, for example, contain many of these new tech-savvy environmental champions. Together, they form a new innovation ecosystem for environmental action. They are starting to put it to use.
Taken together, this represents a kind of Schumpeterian disruption for the existing environmental agenda. New collaborations, new innovations and new networks of entrepreneurs are challenging the way that institutions set up 50 years ago or so have traditionally gone about managing our global environmental issues. But for the kind of radical transformation that the science says we need, such positive disruption is surely a good thing: old job boundaries are breaking down, enabling new collaborations across civil society groups, business, investors, city administrations, universities, technology centres and innovation accelerators to take off, each seeking to reshape the economy of environmental protection and reinvent business models to reap sustainable rewards.
Some might feel uncomfortable with this, as change always contains an element of the unknown. Yet as we must increase our sense of urgency and ambition, so must we embrace innovation. If our intent is clear and predicated on the latest scientific guidance, we should not worry. By unleashing these new platforms of multi-actor, public-private collaboration and promoting new waves of policy and technology innovation and a new generation of entrepreneurs, we can save the Earth within the next twelve years. If we can match the increasing desire among many to act on the scientific urgency with an equal desire to collaborate, innovate and positively disrupt our currently under-performing environmental efforts, we can shape the emergence of a “New Deal for Nature.”
Our task is to shake up the system to help make this happen. We start at the Annual Meeting in Davos this week.
News source: Prothom Alo
Mr. Faruque Hassan, a member of Bangladesh 2030 WRG’s Steering Committee, was recently appointed by the Government of Greece as the Honorary Consul General of Greece in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Mr. Hassan, who is currently the Managing Director of Giant Group, is an iconic figure in Bangladesh’s garment industry. He aspires to make Bangladesh’s readymade-garment (RMG) industry a role model of green industrialization and has played a crucial role in promoting sustainability in the RMG industry in Bangladesh.
As the co-chair of the Steering Committee of Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT)—a joint project of the International Finance Corporate (IFC) and BGMEA—Mr. Hassan has been working to help reduce the water footprint of the textile industry in Bangladesh.
Since the time Mr. Hassan became a member of Bangladesh 2030 WRG’s Steering Committee, he has been a strong supporter of 2030 WRG’s work to improve water resources management in Bangladesh.
Read more here.
News source: NEPAD Business Foundation
If South Africa maintains a “business-as-usual” approach to water resources management, it will face a 17% gap between water demand and supply by 2030. This supply-and-demand gap can damage economic growth and derail efforts to bring clean water and sanitation to its poorest communities.
The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG)—through South Africa’s Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN)—has been facilitating collaborative action between South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation, the private sector, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders to address their common water challenges.
This innovative approach to addressing water security issues was recognized during the Partnership for Growth (P4G) Summit in Copenhagen, which took place on October 19 and 20, 2018. SWPN was one of the three partnerships that earned a 2018 State-of-the-Art Partnership of the Year Award. Nick Tandi, Africa 2030 WRG’s regional coordinator, accepted the award on behalf of SWPN. During the summit, Mr. Tandi addressed an audience of over 500 delegates hailing from different countries around the world, and spoke specifically about the need for stakeholders in South Africa to co-create solutions for South Africa’s imminent water challenges.
Read SWPN’s news release here.
October, 2018 – At the recent World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit, held at the end of September in New York, 2030 WRG organized a side-event that served as an opportunity to showcase the work and impact of 2030 WRG through partners’ stories.
Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President Sustainable Development, offered some remarks on the positioning of water in the 4IR space, the importance of pushing advancements in water, harnessing disruption and exponential change and accelerating demand-side management through value-chains to make impact.
Opportunities for collaboration and scale
She was followed by Bea Perez, Senior Vice President and Chief Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability at The Coca Cola Company, who offered insights into the benefits to the multi-stakeholder approach, and involvement into 2030 WRG. Shamima Akhter, Sustainability Head for Coca Cola in Bangladesh, then spoke in more detail about her experiences at the country-level, in Bangladesh, working alongside 2030 WRG Steering Board partners. She spoke about agricultural challenges, coordination challenges, and opportunities for collaboration and scale.
ABInBev Director of Water Sustainability, Andre Fourie, then shared his experience with embedding innovation in collaborative water management, specifically in Africa. Minister Gugile Nkwinti from the Water and Sanitation Department of South Africa, subsequently shared how from a government-standpoint, we need to leverage public, private and civil society partnerships altogether, to tackle the challenges from the front-lines, against a backdrop of economic growth, policies and frameworks that support transformation at scale, and valuing water.
Changes in government
Mercedes Castro, Peru 2030 WRG partnership Steering Committee Chair, CEO of Agualimpia NGO, and former Peru sherpa to the UN High Level Panel on Water, then explained how best to deal with realities on the ground, including changes in governments, as we have recently witnessed in the case of Peru. She shared how the Peru collaboration has elevated the MSP to a high-level decision making body where many other decisions are taken now as well as the platform proved to be versatile in its delivery and mechanism and a great, neutral place where relevant stakeholders can come together to talk about concrete projects.
Manual Sager, Director-General for the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), finally shared with the participants how he sees 2030 WRG as incubators for such 4IR and technological innovative projects, to test and showcase how successful projects can be replicated and scaled for transformative impact.
Moderator, Jane Nelson, Director of the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, then led the discussion on overcoming obstacles in transforming value chains, how 4IR can help reduce demand for water, thereby ensuring communities and the environment have sustainable water, how collective action can achieve impact at scale and how to ensure that inequalities are not deepened more in society.
El modelo desarrollado por 2030 WRG que la Harvard Kennedy School publica es promisorio. Si se puede demostrar que funciona en el sector hídrico, es indudable que existe un enorme potencial
NEWS SOURCE: El Comercio
He advertido desde aquí, con orgullo, como Harvard Kennedy School, su renombrada Escuela de Gobierno, observa con particular interés y publica un estudio sobre una plataforma de actores múltiples que existe en el Perú y que está abocada a apoyar a los gobiernos a acelerar reformas sostenibles en torno al agua. Tengo el honor, además, de formar parte del Consejo Directivo en el Perú de esta iniciativa llamada 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG). El Perú es uno de los 11 países en los que está presente.
¿Cuál es la clave? En mi percepción, 2030 WRG ha ejecutado una metodología eficaz. Ha logrado propiciar y poner en práctica aquello que parece necesario en toda transformación social: el diálogo constructivo. Para legitimarlo ha recurrido a otro principio fundamental: el involucramiento de todos los sectores atañidos de la sociedad, compleja tarea en un tema como la gestión del agua, convocando y motivando a actores clave y con capacidad de toma de decisión. Y un elemento final e indispensable del método: una rigurosa base de evidencias y análisis.
NEWS SOURCE: Pacific Institute
Collective Action Toward Water Security in Brazil
By Abbey Warner and Giuliana Chaves Moreira
March 29, 2018
This year, the Global Compact Brazil Network and the CEO Water Mandate organized an event to bring together the Brazilian private sector, government, NGOs, and other organizations seeking to address water risks in Brazil to discuss water security challenges and solutions. The event, titled “Collaboration for Water Security in Brazil,” took place on March 19, in parallel with the 8th World Water Forum in Brasília, Brazil.
One significant outcome of the event was the partnership announced between the Global Compact Brazil Net, the CEO Water Mandate, and the 2030 Water Resources Group in São Paulo. Since mid-2017, the 2030 Water Resources Group has been working to advance water security in São Paulo through projects to reuse effluents from domestic sewage treatment stations and projects to improve the performance of sanitation services in small and medium-sized municipalities. The partnership formed during the 8th World Water Forum event will focus on advancing water security in Brazil through water reuse and the circular economy.
It will take coordinated action from a variety of stakeholders, including the private sector, government, and civil society, to meaningfully advance water security in Brazil. The Water Action Hub provides companies and others with the ability to connect to projects happening near them or find potential partners for future water stewardship action.
Davos, Switzerland – 25 Jan 2018
This article is part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and is written by Elsa Galarza Contreras, Ministry of Environment of Peru and Jane Nelson, Director, Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School
Water insecurity poses one of the greatest risks and leadership challenges of our generation. It threatens the well-being and livelihoods of millions of people. It has started to undermine food, energy and industrial production and damage economic growth prospects in many countries. It raises the spectre of failing systems, large-scale involuntary migration, political instability and conflict.
Demand for water is expected to exceed supply by 40% by 2030. New technologies, financing mechanisms, delivery models, voluntary standards and policy and regulatory innovations will be required to address this growing gap. Governments must take the lead in enabling these activities and making tough choices to allocate water resources among different uses and users. To be effective, however, they will need to consult and cooperate more strategically with stakeholders in business and civil society.
In the absence of such collaboration, it will be impossible to achieve the type of technical, behavioral and political changes that are needed to improve water governance at global and national levels, as well as in water management and local use. The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) demonstrates what is possible.
The 2030 WRG was established in 2008 as an informal consortium of some of the World Economic Forum’s members, including the IFC, McKinsey & Company, the Barilla Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, New Holland Agriculture, SABMiller, Standard Chartered Bank and Syngenta. Today, it has evolved into a multidimensional, public-private partnership with country-led implementation platforms at its core. Hosted by the World Bank Group, its mission is “to help countries achieve water security by 2030 by facilitating collective action between government, the private sector and civil society”.
Through multistakeholder platforms in 14 countries and states, some 600 organizations from different sectors are working together on projects and policy reforms with support from the 2030 WRG team. They range from operational projects, such as agricultural, industrial and municipal water use efficiency, to strategic initiatives, such as urban-industrial security and river basin governance.
The collaborative approach has helped to build trusted relationships between different sectors as well as across silos within government and industry. In Peru, for example, five ministers serve on the country’s WRG steering board. The highest levels of government have made commitments in Bangladesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In South Africa and Mongolia, agricultural, mining and manufacturing companies are cooperating individually and through industry associations. Efforts are underway to increase engagement with civil society organizations, farmers and citizens.
The evolution of the 2030 WRG has not been without setbacks and challenges. Some initiatives have been disbanded and others adapted in response to changes in leadership, external evaluations and shared experimentation and learning. As 2030 WRG approaches its 10th anniversary, the model reflects five early lessons for leaders working on water security and other complex, systemic challenges:
- Government in the lead: The multistakeholder approach offers an alternative to what has primarily been a public sector role when ultimate responsibility still rests with government. A core priority of the approach is to help address the capacity gaps and overcome the political constraints that many governments face in managing water resources effectively and transparently.
- Local ownership and collaboration from business and civil society: Greater inclusion and decision-making by local business and civic leaders have been essential in identifying shared priorities, designing feasible solutions and creating the incentives and buy-in needed for implementation.
- A combined focus on data and analysis, stakeholder dynamics and the political economy of change: The 2030 WRG has learned the importance of balancing rigorous data and a technical understanding of water challenges with an appreciation of the institutional and political context. In addition to highlighting water security as a potential constraint on economic growth, it considers social and environmental concerns to generate a sense of shared urgency among diverse stakeholder interests.
- Strong ‘backbone support’: A challenge of many multistakeholder platforms is that they unite parties who are at best unfamiliar and at worst distrustful of each other. Backbone support from a team that has the ability to stimulate, coordinate and support collaboration among such parties is essential. It requires a combination of technical expertise alongside the ability to think long-term, live with uncertainty, and learn and adapt along the way.
- Vital roles for individual champions: Individual leaders have been essential to the evolution of the 2030 WRG. They have ranged from government ministers to corporate CEOs and practitioners from the participating organizations. Many have taken real, personal risk, investing their time, effort, influence, networks and, in some cases, reputation as vocal supporters for a collective effort they do not control and the outcomes of which are uncertain.
The 2030 WRG offers a promising approach to tackling the complex, systemic challenges of achieving water security and resolving shortages in the world’s most essential resource. If it can demonstrate the effectiveness of systems leadership and collaboration in the water sector, there will be enormous potential for this kind of approach to have a broader role in expediting progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
This draws on the findings of a report on the 2030 Water Resources Group published by the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School.
Group studies the economics of water, and is worried
Mongolia has two major water consumption areas – Ulaanbaatar and the southern Gobi region. The first has population pressure, while the second is where mining and economic activity will become more and more intense. The 2030 Water Resources Group recently conducted a hydro-economic survey of the two areas, and its reports on them contain water consumption growth forecasts, potential water resource availability, and such questions of supply and demand.
Read the interview with 2030 WRG Mongolia Representative Dorjsuren Dechinlkhundev on the Mongolian Mining Journal:
Below is a list of online articles that covered the launch of Maharashtra’s ‘Multi-Stakeholder Platform’ for Transformative Solutions in Water Resources Management: