Submitted by Mark Smith on Fri,03/22/2013

"World Water Day is like any themed global day: it’s not really to ‘celebrate’ water, it’s about getting people to pay attention and decide they’re going to take action to solve water problems." 

With this is mind, the day started well. BBC news had a series of reports about water in Asia, from China, the Philippines, India and Indonesia showing how water scarcity is squeezing food supply, how water pollution makes people sick, how the poorest people, perversely, pay the most for the water they drink. Standing by a stinking (it looked smelly at least…) river in Jakarta, a reporter pointed to the river, incredulous, and said this is what people bathe in, swim in and drink. The people living by the river, and Indonesia in this case, are paying the price in terms of health, money in pockets, lost investment and, as industries go elsewhere where water risks are lower, jobs too.

Behind the speeches by royalty and eminent personalities at theWorld Water Day dialogue in The Hague today, lies the challenge of solving real problems like these, affecting real people. What everyone here agrees on is that the solutions are not easy. This is why 2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation. Solving water problems means cooperating over water. But even this is not simple.

The experts and politicians debating here have called for cooperation among communities, governments, business, bankers, farmers, industries, on the human right to water and sanitation, food and energy security, water pollution, governance, water diplomacy and ecosystems. The crux of the challenge then, people are saying, is to translate this web of issues into a post-2014 development agenda for water that politicians will come to bat for. HRH The Prince of Orange, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, President Ellen Johnson...Read more


Submitted by guest blogger on Fri,03/01/2013

By James Dalton, Coordinator, Global Initiatives, IUCN's Global Water Programme.

It has been over three years since we first sat down with CEMEX, the global building materials company headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico. It was one of those meetings where we were not sure what they wanted to talk about apart from the general subject of ‘water’. What were they interested in? What could we realistically work with them on jointly? After all, corporate interests come and go, sometimes very rapidly.

I can still clearly remember that meeting – and the realisation that we had many joint ideas and similar concerns about water resources and the role of their business in working towards better water management.
After three years of working in partnership with CEMEX I think we are in a much better position to understand their business concerns and to understand how we, working jointly with them, can find solutions to improve the efficiency of water use and to also help the company identify and reduce water risks. Risks both to the company to ensure they maintain access to water, but also to those other businesses, communities, AND the natural freshwater ecosystems downstream of quarries and cement works.

We pulled some of this learning together at the end of last year and presented it at our joint event at the Spanish Permanent Representation to the EU offices in Brussels. We jointly presented the methodology we have worked on to standardize water measurement and management across company operations, and also presented some of the more innovative approaches to water management between companies (see Sweet Cement article). It was a well-attended event with an excellent audience – they were well informed

...Read more