2030 WRG in the News

Global Water Report shames SA companies

This year’s Global Water Report has painted a bleak picture of how South African companies are managing their water resources.

Global-Water-Report

With calculations that demand will outstrip supply by as much as 17% by 2030, the report showed companies could end up closing if they did not change their approach to water management.

The report’s main finding was that companies were not looking at the risk water scarcity would create and were continuing with “business-as-usual”. To rectify this, more ambition was needed, it said.

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The Guardian: The murky pool of big business, water and policy capture

News Source: The Guardian

By Oliver Balch

In early 2000, a string of riots and protests broke out in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. The “water wars” were sparked by a government decision to hand over control of water supply to a foreign-owned, private consortium. The bid process was uncontested and the revenues guaranteed for 40 years. Residents had every right to be aggrieved. Their bills jumped by 35% overnight and small farmers faced the loss of traditional irrigation rights.

The episode represents a classic case of “policy capture”. More than a decade on and the perception that big business is muscling in on water policy remains widespread. And it’s not just in far-flung corners of the developing world. This week, policymakers are discussing “sweeping new EU-US trade negotiations” that could see greater corporate control over key European water markets, according to a report by Corporate Observatory Europe (CEO), a Brussels-based pressure group. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could lead to reduction in environmental and water quality standards too, water campaigners fear.

“The private water industry is investing heavily in lobbying to shape EU water policies,” argues Olivier Hoedeman, CEO’s research co-ordinator. “The most extreme example of this corporate bias is … where the European Commission uses its negotiating power to pressure other countries to open their markets to EU-based water multinationals.”

But the issue isn’t just limited to companies involved in commercial water services. Far from it. Most water-related conflicts around the world actually arise at the consumption phase. David Hall, a water policy expert at the University of Greenwich and co-author of a paper on corporate water practices and human rights, points the finger to heavy water users in the agribusiness, food and beverage, and mining sectors in particular.

“At a global level, the same companies that are major consumers of water promote a number of initiatives to try and advance ideas which favour their interests in these conflicts with other users,” Hall argues.

Take water efficiency. It’s difficult to argue with the idea of saving water, you’d think. And you’d be right. But what if agribusinesses use efficiency arguments as a pretext for pushing forward high-tech farming solutions, asks Hall, who claims something similar is unfolding in India’s Maharashtra state at present.

Pushing for clarity over water rights is another concept advocated by companies. Again, the idea seems reasonable, especially given the informal nature of such rights in much of the world. However, such a move easily opens the door to a “regime of structured contractual rights”, whereby water is portioned off to the highest bidder, says Hall.

Water is an undeniably emotive topic, and citizen groups have every reason to remain vigil. But big business has a legitimate interest in seeing that water is well-stewarded too. Precisely because of their high levels of water consumption, water stress represents a large and growing risk. A new country ranking by the World Resources Institute (WRI), for example, finds that water-related problems threaten more than half (56%) the world’s irrigated agricultural land.

So companies have to act. The question is how to do so in way that is perceived as fair. The CEO Water Mandate, a company-backed initiative, produced guidelines back in 2010 to address exactly this challenge. The Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy identifies five core principles for business to follow: (i) advance sustainable water management; (ii) respect public and private roles; (iii) strive for inclusiveness and partnerships; (iv) be pragmatic and consider integrated engagement; (v) be accountable and transparent.

Jason Morrison, technical director at the CEO Water Mandate, puts special emphasis on two of these principles: transparency and inclusiveness. Both are “daunting” concepts for most companies, which are used to “discretely and quietly” strike bilateral deals with water ministries, he admits.

“[Companies] have to be very clear about what they’re doing, with whom and why. The degree to which you’re transparent about that, it really does insulate you from the accusation of policy capture,” he argues.

Jesse Worker, associate for the Access Initiative at WRI, agrees. Only full, meaningful and ongoing disclosure will persuade the public that business “has a legitimate role to play” in water policy, he says. In addition to publishing information on the policy-making process, responsible companies should be providing data on their water use, discharge rates and other impacts as well.

As for inclusivity, inviting other interest groups to join in the policy-making process helps pre-empt those same groups accusing a company of policy capture “further down the road”, says Morrison. Collaboration isn’t easy, however. For one, it takes time. Multi-stakeholders processes can “easily take several years” to achieve an outcome, says Greg Koch, director of global water stewardship at drinks brand Coca Cola. Working within the constraints of a government’s bureaucratic decision-making process requires further time and patience, he notes.

Yet an open, participative approach to policy engagement is possible, Koch states. He points to the work of the multi-stakeholder 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG). Launched in 2008, the initiative advocates a three-stage approach in the six countries where it operates – a list that includes India, where Coca Cola has been embroiled in a conflict over water use in the past. The first two stages comprise analysing current and future areas of water stress, and then designing pilot solutions that have the potential to be scaled if successful. Both stages include widespread external consultation.

Stage three is decision time. It’s the “domain of government” to decide what interventions or policy reforms are most appropriate, and how these will be financed and administered, Koch insists. “That’s the point when we and everyone step out.”

ANA identificará las zonas con mayor riesgo por escasez de agua

—Con la aplicación del análisis hidro-económico, también determinará los sectores económicos y grupos sociales en riesgo por inundación y contaminación del agua.

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Ministry to Cooperate with 2030 Water Resources Group

by B.Khuder

The Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Green Development has established a cooperation memorandum with the 2030 Water Resources Group.

Ministry-to-cooperate-with-2030-Water-Resources-GroupThe document was inked on Tuesday at the end of a sub-meeting themed “Water resources of Mongolia is a developmental accelerator” within the World Economic Forum Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia.

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The Water Crisis is Now

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Arup & 2030 Water Resources Group

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Make every drop count

By AJIT GULABCHAND

Water must be managed by a coalition of public, private and civil society interests.

Water should be seen as a commercial good to avoid wasteful use. — Sushil Kumar Verma

Water should be seen as a commercial good to avoid wasteful use. — Sushil Kumar Verma

Water is one of the most indispensable of all natural resources. It is vital for the survival of human beings and the scarcity of water has a significant impact on our economic development and biological diversity.

Water is one of the most indispensable of all natural resources. It is vital for the survival of human beings and the scarcity of water has a significant impact on our economic development and biological diversity.

Nations across the world, including India, have recently been facing the challenge of rapidly growing water demands, driven by an increased population and economic growth, linked to urbanisation and industrialisation. Also, the prevailing water scarcity is not only a result of quantitative or qualitative scarcity but also a consequence of inefficient use and poor water management, which has been recognised in India’s draft Water Policy (2012).

Water security is one of the most tangible and fastest-growing social, political and economic challenges faced today. It is also a fast-unfolding environmental crisis. In every sector, the demand for water is expected to increase and analysis suggests that the world will face a 40 per cent global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply by 2030.

This outlook bears potential for crisis and conflict since water lies at the heart of everything that is important for human life: food, sanitation, energy, and production of goods, transport and the biosphere as such.

BASIC RIGHT AND BEYOND

Water has been argued to be a social good. It is commonly accepted that access to water is a basic human right. However, being a social good and private good are not mutually exclusive conditions. In fact, more water for one individual can mean less water for other individuals who share a water-supply system. Classifying water as a basic human right, therefore, introduces further social complications in terms of equitable distribution.

Water is a commercial good when it comes to farming, manufacturing, etc. Water is environmental good and we need to conserve it to conserve our environment.

Water needs to be defined not only as a social good, to which everybody is entitled free of cost, but also as commercial good — to be paid for and an environmental good that you treat with great respect.

India will face around 50 per cent of water shortage and an expenditure of around $6 billion per annum for the next 5-6 years is needed to restore the balance.

While the Government must be the ultimate custodian of the national water resources and plays the key role in setting frameworks and strategies, many other stakeholders also have a role to play in delivering solutions.

Proper coordination within government-set strategies requires sound facts and an approach that supports cost-effective solutions. The resulting need for multi-stakeholder engagement means that coalitions are required; public-private-civil society coalitions focused collectively on addressing the water security issue, each leveraging its own comparative advantage towards meeting the challenge within a common policy framework.

Theoretically, managing water as an economic good entails that water can be allocated across competing uses in a way that maximises the net benefit from the amount of water in question. Practically, the increasing financial burden on users to pay for clean water has social and political implications. There has been growing controversy over the privatisation of water worldwide as the economic principles of valuation, privatisation and efficiency are being applied to water, a resource that many consider a basic human need and right.

BUSINESS RISK

Growing competition for scarce water resources is a growing business risk, a major economic threat, and a challenge for the sustainability of communities and the ecosystems upon which they rely. It is an issue that has serious implications for the stability of countries in which businesses operate, and for industries whose value chains are exposed to water scarcity.

Recognising the gravity of the problem, The 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) was formed in 2008 to contribute new insights to the increasingly critical issue of water resource scarcity. Members include McKinsey & Company and the World Bank Group (led by the International Finance Corporation – IFC) with a consortium of business partners, including Hindustan Construction Company.

All the competing sectors, be it agriculture or industry, must practise water use efficiency to the extent possible. Water efficiency measures must be viewed holistically within a business’ strategic planning. Businesses that use water more efficiently now will have a competitive advantage over those that choose to wait. A successful programme must prioritise needs, set well-informed goals, establish current performance minimums and carefully plan a course for action.

WAYS TO BOOST EFFICIENCY

Some ways to achieve water use efficiency within the fence of a given industry are:

Identifying and eliminating wastage and inefficient processes: This may be the most low-cost area for water savings, as it involves minimal capital outlay. Savings can be made through implementing procedural changes, such as cleaning plant areas with brooms rather than water.

Changing processes and equipment: A retrofit of key plant equipment may increase efficiency. Alternatively, upgrades to more efficient models can be factored into planned maintenance and replacement schedules.

Recycling and Reusing treated wastewater: This option may improve the reliability of supply, whilst reducing trade waste charges and associated environmental risks.

Out of suggested measures, equipment (and/or process) changes may be viewed as a ‘permanent fix’ to achieve water efficiency. Changing employee behaviour, such as an operating procedure, may be viewed as a quick and inexpensive way to achieve similar savings without up-front capital expenses. Both the technical and human side of water management is important. Consistent training and awareness, in combination with proper tools and equipment, have the potential to achieve more permanent water savings.

Recycling or reuse of industrial wastewater is possible through adoption of preventive approaches at each production stage to minimise the generation of wastewater.

Segregation of wastewater streams is one of the commonly used preventive strategies to achieve efficient treatment of effluent aimed at recycle and reuse.

Although there is a growing awareness of the strategic importance of water, very few industries across India manage water in a systemic and holistic way.

Water management, in the majority of industries, is limited to ensuring the provision of water. In some instances, there are efforts to control or treat effluents and some responsible businesses go beyond the convention and adopt absolute water use efficiency. However, in most of the cases where water efficiency efforts are implemented as a mere formality, they tend to be unorganised, often leading to sub-optimal results.

These disappointing results may make the management more inclined to withhold its support for any future efficiency projects. Potential exists within the industrial sector to substantially boost water productivity provided it is being adopted/guided by an adequate mechanism.

(The author is Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Construction Company)

Speech by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Mrs BEE Molewa, on the occasion of the presentation of Budget Vote Number 37 on behalf of the Department of Water Affairs at the Old Assembly Chamber, Parliament, Cape Town

We have great pleasure in addressing Parliament and to report back on the mandate bestowed upon us by the people of South Africa. Our enduring mandate of water resources protection, delivering water to the people of our country and ensuring that South Africa is a water secure country, not only forms the bedrock for the lives of our people but also the very survival of the country’s economy.

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Mines and government work on closing water gap

The Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN-SA) is in the process of identifying institutional and pricing models to incentivise collaboration between government and mining companies in ‘closing the water gap’ by increasing the treatment and reuse of mine water, reports Legalbrief Policy Watch.

This is according to Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, who made the announcement during an address to participants in a water session at the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Summit on Africa. According to the Minister, the work of the SWPN-SA was pivotal in developing the second draft of government’s national water resources strategy, published during July last year.

Gauteng wastes R7.8bn worth of water

By BALDWIN NDABA

Johannesburg – Gauteng municipalities have collectively lost 480 980 000 kilolitres of water in the 2011/12 financial year, amounting to a staggering R7.84 billion in financial losses.

A man walks past a burst water pipe on the corner of West and Market streets in Joburg. Picture: Mujahid Safodien

A man walks past a burst water pipe on the corner of
West and Market streets in Joburg. Picture: Mujahid
Safodien

This is according to Gauteng MEC for Local Government and Housing Ntombi Mekgwe, who was responding to a question by DA spokesman on local government Fred Nel.

Mekgwe, in her response to the DA’s written questions, confirmed that the province was experiencing heavy water losses, saying it was mainly due to ageing infrastructure.

She provided the DA with the breakdown of water losses across all municipalities, with the Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni metropolitan councils found to be the worst offenders.

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