By Ramya Krishnaswamy
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012 kicked off yesterday exploring the most pressing challenges that our world faces today. A strong green thread runs across Davos this year, where many discussions are focused on realizing growth in a sustainable manner. Given their importance to economic growth and social development aspirations of countries and societies around the world, water issues are among the most pressing we face and must tackle without delay. Today at Davos, the Water Resources Group (WRG) – a new global partnership on water – emerges as a new model of collaboration to manage water resources for long-term growth and sustainability.
True – many noteworthy partnerships already exist in the water sector. WRG aspires to complement and support such initiatives, drawing in new actors to come together in constructive dialogue and develop joint solutions to ensure that water enhances growth, not constrains it. The extensive WRG network of expertise contributes to developing a holistic approach, considering water issues alongside energy, food security and environmental issues for integrated solutions. But what is the value of a good idea if not tested in practice?
To date, WRG partners with five governments – Karnataka State of India, Jordan, Mexico, South Africa and Mongolia. Two short years of activity are already yielding results. Insight developed by WRG is being used to shape national water strategies (Mexico’s 2030 Water Agenda and the revision of Jordan’s national water strategy). WRG is also supporting the formation of new stakeholder collaborations (South Africa’s Strategic Water Partners Network and Jordan’s vision to create a National Water Council).
An emerging new model that has demonstrated initial success, the WRG has yet many new partnerships to form and lessons to learn. Driven by the spirit of innovation and continuous improvement at its core, reinforced by the support of multistakeholder champions globally, it is an important step towards securing access to water for human and economic development in water-scarce countries. More fundamentally, WRG can prove to be a truly new model for impact-orientated development.
Today, WRG moves to a new home at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), on behalf of the World Bank Group. Water expert Anders Berntell has been appointed Executive Director, to take WRG to its next stage and continued success.
By Richard Elliott
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 7 June – Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia and Peter
Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the World Economic Forum-Water Resources Group and Member of the World Economic Forum Foundation Board, committed to form a Mongolian Water Alliance of key government entities, civil society representatives and private sector participants to support the transformation of Mongolia’s water sector.
At the invitation of President Elbegdorj, the World Economic Forum-Water Resources Group
and Office of the President of Mongolia co-organized the Water Secure Future in Mongolia conference in Ikh Tenger, a special complex in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in which over 100 government officials, parliamentarians, civil society and private sector representatives participated to explore ways to safeguard Mongolia’s scarce water resources in the context of its rapid economic growth.
The conference debated pressing issues about water use in the mining, agricultural and municipal sectors, sharing case studies of international good practice for boosting water efficiency and ways of safeguarding Mongolia’s water supplies. Conference delegates agreed on the need to coordinate public and private information and activities in Mongolia’s water sector and, for immediate action, involved all stakeholders to deepen the country’s range of economic choices, to identify practical demand and supply options, and to develop a robust implementation plan.
In a follow-up meeting, President Elbegdorj and Brabeck-Letmathe committed to form a Mongolian Water Alliance of key government entities, civil society representatives and private sector participants with the Water Resources Group to support the transformation of Mongolia’s water sector.
President Elbegdorj said, “Managing our future water needs is key to sustaining Mongolia’s economic growth. We must ensure fast and effective implementation of our National Water Plan. We will benefit from the international networks and experience of the Water Resources Group to help us do so.”
Brabeck-Letmathe said, “The foresight and leadership of President Elbegdorj in recognizing the importance of water to Mongolia’s economic growth should be applauded. We are excited that Mongolia intends to join the ranks of countries such as Mexico, Jordan and South Africa that are also taking active leadership, with the support of the Water Resources Group, to find practical solutions that match sustainable water resource management with their plans for economic growth.”
The Mongolian economy is expected to grow by a factor of four in the next two decades, driven particularly by its abundant mineral wealth. Mongolian water experts at the conference noted that it takes about 4 m3 of water to move each 1 m3 of ore and that most of the mineral deposits are found in water scarce areas of the country.
About the Water Resources Group
The World Economic Forum-Water Resources Group (WRG) is an innovative public-private platform
for collaboration to mobilize stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, centers of academic expertise and financing institutions to engage in fact-based, analytical approaches and coalition-building initiatives that help governments to catalyse sustainable water sector.