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.