With just one month to go until the first-ever Global Recycling Day, cities across the globe are joining together to encourage people to think of recycling in a new way. The initiative from the Bureau for International Recycling (BIR) will call on the world to think “resource” not “waste” when it comes to recycling.
On the 18th March 2018, official Global Recycling Day events will take place in London, Washington DC, Sao Paolo, Paris, Johannesburg, Delhi and Dubai (with other private events expected to take place in homes and communities across the globe).
These events will encourage individuals to pledge to make at least one change to their recycling habits, as well as asking them to sign BIR’s petition calling for the day to be recognised by the United Nations. This will help the message spread and highlight the importance of a global approach to recycling to world leaders.
Joining in on social media channels, using #GlobalRecyclingDay, is being encouraged, with people invited to share videos and images of recycling actions and celebrations. The aim is to showcase how central recycling is to our day to day life – whether it’s working with local recycling businesses or making personal recycling commitments.
BIR President, Ranjit Baxi, said: “The world’s first Global Recycling Day is a vitally important new date in our global calendar. To truly harness the power of recycling we must adopt a global approach to its collection, processing and use, and this Day recognises the global nature of the industry and the issue. It is time we put the planet first and all commit to spend 10 more minutes a day ensuring that materials are disposed of properly. It is a joint responsibility, not one of the few and I look forward to seeing individuals, communities, businesses and leaders joining us and celebrating the Day on 18th March.
“Global Recycling Day is also a wakeup call to all of us, wherever we live. We must unite with those involved in the industry – from workers on waste mountains to the world’s largest businesses – to help them to make the best use of what we dispose of, to make recycling easier, inherent even in the design of products, and to stop expecting countries to simply accept Recyclables which are difficult and costly to process.”
About Global Recycling Day
Global Recycling Day is an initiative of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).
BIR is the global federation of the recycling industry, representing the interests of the global industry.
One of BIR’s key objectives is to promote recycling globally – showcasing its benefits to industry, policy makers and the wider community.
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of BIR (indeed 18th March is its 70th birthday), a landmark year in which to create a day which recognised the vital role recycling and the industry plays in protecting the planet.
The first ever Global Recycling Day will unite people across the world, highlighting the need to conserve our six primary resources (water, air, coal, oil, natural gas and minerals) and celebrating the power of the newly termed “Seventh Resource”- the goods we recycle every day. The new initiative is the brain child of Ranjit Baxi, who announced his vision for a day dedicated to recycling at the inauguration of his Presidency at BIR’s 2015 Dubai Convention.
Global Recycling Day will be a day of action, aimed at building a global approach towards recycling, calling on world leaders, international businesses, communities and individuals to make seven clear commitments in their approach to recycling. Consumers are also being asked to ask themselves some key questions about recycling, to think of it in a new way.
Great leaders protect their nations and their communities by addressing current threats, scanning the horizon for approaching storms and transforming policies as needed. They understand that being prepared, as the Boy Scouts have taught us, is the requisite of security.
Today, without any doubt, the Earth’s climate is changing. In 2016, global temperatures were the highest recorded, surpassing the previous record set only the year before. Rising seas are already threatening island nations and coastal communities. Drought has forced millions of families to migrate in search of food, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have described climate shifts as a serious potential threat to the United States.
This is a threat that we must heed. We do not want to be caught unaware and in denial like the grasshopper of Aesop’s fables.
What do we do? One approach is to wait for the government to act. This is a hazardous path. As a candidate, President Donald Trump called climate change a hoax and dismissed the Paris Agreement as misguided.
China has taken the opposite position. It has committed to aggressive emissions reduction targets and, by some reports, is already ahead of schedule. In January, China halted plans for 103 coal-fired plants. Simultaneously, it is committing billions of dollars toward a low-carbon economy, creating jobs in renewable energy and supporting emerging nations in their efforts to adapt to the onslaught of climate change.
This does not mean that we in the U.S. are paralyzed. Climate change, in fact, has ushered in a renaissance in design, land use and technology. Businesses and universities are investing in new technologies as well as new partnerships with the focused mission of solving the climate challenge, with or without the government.
Architects are designing buildings that generate more energy than they consume. Farmers are using cropland more efficiently to prevent expansion into carbon-storing forest ecosystems. And cities, businesses and universities are continuing to invest in clean-energy breakthroughs that are driving down the price of wind and solar.
“Humanity has the capacity and the ingenuity to respond to climate stress. To do so, we must remember that no great transformation has been led by government alone”
In November, immediately after the U.S. presidential election and concurrent with the United Nations climate negotiations, the worlds of innovation and tradition came together as entrepreneurs and indigenous leaders joined forces to plan decentralized action to fight climate change. The result is the Roadmap, a call to action to create new inclusive models of change to fight climate change together as a global community.
One non-technological solution put forward was simply to support the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who control nearly 25 percent of the Earth’s surface and most of the planet’s healthy ecological systems. Their forests, if managed wisely, could capture one-third of the total amount needed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is what many scientists believe is the limit for avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
There is no doubt that humanity has the capacity and the ingenuity to respond to climate stress. To do so, we must remember that no great transformation has been led by government alone. It always has been up to private citizens to provide the solutions to back up formal policy.
Now, we push forward with that work, with or without the U.S. government. No matter what our government does, we — citizens, communities and businesses — must not hold back our creativity, urgency and investment.
This is the time for transformation without permission.
Pretoria – The furore which erupted over the weekend could have been avoided if the City of Tshwane had properly managed the compulsory water restrictions, Rand Water has said.
Water supply to communities west of Pretoria was cut off from Saturday, leaving residents angry and feeling like “second class” citizens.
“The city should have managed it properly to avoid confusion,” Rand Water spokesman Justice Mohale told the Pretoria News.
He said Rand Water convened technical meetings in Joburg every Monday and representatives from the city were always among the participants. The meetings discussed, among other issues, water restrictions, he said.
Mohale said all municipalities in the province participated in the throttling exercise, launched by the Department and Water and Sanitation in an effort to save dwindling water resources. Municipalities are supposed to take 15% from water supplied to residents.
Laudium residents had their water cut off without prior notice on Saturday, and this threw them into a frenzy, demanding answers and the immediate restoration of the service.
In his response to social media queries on Sunday afternoon, mayor Solly Msimanga said: “We are aware and working on the water problem in Laudium. The problem is a result of over-throttling from Rand Water as part of the restrictions.”
But that explanation was rejected by the residents, who said the city would have known before implementation. “We would have been warned and told to prepare,” a resident said at a public meeting to discuss the water situation in Laudium. The residents held an emergency meeting, where they said 36 hours without water, with no official explanation, was a sign of disrespect.
They said it was a service delivery and human rights violation and wanted the mayor to address them on the matter. The municipality acknowledged the lack of water in the area and dispatched 10 tankers of 10 000 litres each to the affected communities, adding four more by Monday morning.
City spokesman Lindela Mashigo said reservoirs had become low by Saturday. When water started trickling into the area Monday morning, he said: “The reservoir recovered a bit and managed to supply water to low lying areas.”
The high lying areas would battle until there was enough water to apply pressure upwards, he said. Night time when water use was very low would allow that, Mashigo added.@ntsandvose
Water is on everyone’s minds, at last. It should have happened a long time ago, but now that we are facing ongoing water shortages, droughts and water quality crises, South Africa is finally paying attention to what conservation and water health mean.
Foreseeing this three decades ago, the WWF-SA’s Freshwater Programme has focused on a number of catchment-wide water conservation and community engagement projects in South Africa, several of which the WWF Nedbank Green Trusted has supported since its inception 26 years ago.
One of these projects is the Stellenbosch River Collaborative (SRC), which, in partnership with the WWF Nedbank Green Trust and the conservation organisations – Living Lands and the Wildlands Conservation Trust – is working on the restoration of the Eerste River catchment.
The polluted waters in the Eerste River, Stellenbosch’s main river, and two other rivers that flow into it – the Plankenbrug and Veldwachters – pose a serious health risk to the greater Stellenbosch community. This is also jeopardising the viability of the area’s key economic drivers, notably the wine and fruit producers in the Eerste River catchment.
The pollution and microbial quality of the river water (levels of human excrement and disease-causing pathogens such as E. coli) is not fit for drinking or irrigation. It fails to meet the export standards set by the European Union for fresh produce and the World Health Organisation and Department of Water and Sanitation guidelines for safe irrigation.
In response to the many negative consequences of their polluted catchment concerned citizens and stakeholders from every sector of the Stellenbosch community came together and formed the SRC. Launched in November 2013, its aim is to restore health to the Eerste River catchment.
The initiator and coordinator of the SRC is researcher Charon Marais, who is doing her PhD on sustainability and transformational governance through the University of Stellenbosch Business School, and is part of the transdisciplinary TsamaHUB doctorate programme of the Sustainability Institute.
The Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI) has adopted the SRC as an important official in SUWI projects. Stellenbosch’s Municipality is an active partner in this initiative.
‘It is all about what we call the ‘river connect’ – about connecting neighbours and communities upstream and downstream of the Eerste River to restore health to the river for every member of the greater Stellenbosch community,’ Marais explains. ‘From people living in Kayamandi and Enkanini informal settlements to big businesses such as Spier and Distell, the health and sustainability of the river affects one and all.’
The Stellenbosch Municipality is responsible for the health of the Eerste River and its feeder rivers. However, heavy sewage leaks from the Stellenbosch Municipality Waste Water Treatment Plant and pollution from the Plankenbrug industrial area and the informal settlements are continuous sources of river contamination, and have been for the past 20 years.
The true gravity of the situation was brought to the attention of the broader public through national media coverage when the Wynland Water Users Association, representing farmers, individual users, conservation authorities, and the Department of Water Affairs, took legal action against the municipality for non-compliance.
The SRC has played an instrumental role in bridging the divide and creating a space where the municipality can come on board and assume its role in a number of river restoration initiatives.
One of these initiatives is the Enkanini water and sanitation pilot programme launched in March 2016, in partnership with Living Lands, Isidima Design and Development, and a group of young women and men from the Enkanini informal settlement who named their project ‘The Enkanini Water Hustlers’ with the slogan ‘Changing the Flow’.
Christine Colvin, Senior Manager of WWF’s Freshwater Programme, who oversees all of WWF-SA’s water projects, explains that Enkanini does not have any formalised services. All forms of pollution and effluent from the community end up in the Plankenbrug River.
‘To tackle this with the community members, we are drawing on learning gained from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust Msunduzi Green Corridor (MGC) – a pilot project that is promoting partnership action between communities and the public and private sector, to address the rapid decline of the Duzi River,’ Colvin explains.
‘Now in its second year, the project is addressing the severe sewerage contamination and solid-waste problem in the Duzi, in partnership with the Msunduzi Municipality and the communities living on the banks of the Duzi River and Midmar Dam,’ Colvin explains.
The Duzi River frequently registers contamination counts of well over 10 000 year-round counts, sometimes above the 100 000s, when anything over an E. coli or sewerage contamination count of 1 000 is a health risk for anyone making direct contact with the water.
The MCG is managed by the Duzi-Umngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), which has established Eco Clubs at over 40 schools along the Duzi and a highly successful Enviro-Champs water and pollution-monitoring programme, led by members of the Mphophomeni Township adjoining Midmar Dam.
‘It is about people making the river their own, and about understanding their individual and collective responsibility to champion clean water, to report sewage leakages, to stop dumping refuse in the river and to discourage others from doing so,’ explains DUCT’s Richard Clacey, a local economic development and environmental specialist who focuses on the links between river health, community health and development issues.
The Enviro-Champs from the MCG visited their counterparts in Stellenbosch – the Water Hustlers – to share knowledge, grow water awareness and help the Water Hustlers think through how they want to manage their project. Six community members from Enkanini are currently leading the Water Hustlers’ pilot programme.
They explained that they chose the name ‘Hustlers’ because that is how they live; if you don’t hustle, nothing happens. They monitor the water quality; report leakages, burst pipes and pollution issues in Enkanini; and visit households to raise awareness about water.
‘Their commitment to this project and the operational support we are now receiving from the Stellenbosch Municipality is most encouraging,’ says Colvin. One example of this support is the painting and numbering of the manholes in and around Enkanini. This enhances municipal responsiveness when manholes overflowing with pollutants are reported.
‘Previously, there was no way of identifying the specific manholes and in an informal settlement the municipal officials often battled to locate them. Now that they are painted and numbered, it has helped to fast-track this process.’
Colvin adds that the Stellenbosch Municipality is also working on bringing services to over
1 000 households in Enkanini, including clean water and decent sanitation.
The Enkanini Water Hustlers and the SRC are receiving considerable support from Spier and Distell, who are also situated on the banks of the Plankenbrug River, downstream from Enkanini.
All members of the greater Stellenbosch community recognise the principle of ‘my neighbour’s water is my water’ and are working to achieve better quality water throughout the catchment.
‘This model could be used in many South African catchments, towns, informal areas and townships,’ adds Colvin. ‘Water pollution and failing wastewater treatment plants is a ubiquitous problem in South African and a key threat to lives and livelihoods. We need to find a way to upscale these projects for water stewardship throughout the country – it would serve all the people of South Africa significantly.’
By Heather Dugmore
The biggest obstacle to powering off-grid homes is infrastructure.
The problem, specifically in sparsely populated areas, is a lack of power lines. Without lines going to a remote power grid, many communities lack the access they need to electricity. Entire villages can stay dark. But there are ways around that.
A startup called Off-Grid Electric is looking to use cheap rooftop solar panels for energy in rural parts of Africa, instead of building expensive infrastructure.
Off-Grid Electric is a for-profit company started by Xavier Helgesen in 2012, who had the idea for the company when he was traveling through Malawi to meet clients for his bookselling company, according to NPR.
The village happened to be entirely off the grid, people made heavy use of kerosene lamps and lived entirely without electricity, even though some of the villagers owned electrical appliances, that’s the experience that led Hegelsen to start the company.
The solution that Off-Grid offers is a pay-as-you-go program with a $6 installation fee for solar panels that sit on a household’s roof. The package also includes a meter that keeps track of how much energy each household is using, as well as LED lights, a radio, and a phone charger.
Customers pay for electricity as they use it and can use mobile payment apps to pay bills. In an interview with NPR, Helgesen said his company has been closely watching how people use their electricity.
For instance, the company learned to not to ask households how much wattage they think they’ll use — measuring consumption is foreign to many people. Instead, Off-Grid asks what appliances they want to power. That way, the company gives its customers a more bespoke solution.
The company says it’s lighting up some 50,000 homes a month, with a goal of reaching 1 million African homes by 2017. Off-Grid currently covers parts of Tanzania, and the company is planning to expand to Rwanda within the year. Eventually, it will expand beyond the African continent.
Off-Grid isn’t the first effort to bring solar-powered local energy to rural and developing areas. A startup called Watly, for example, makes self-contained solar power reservoirs that act like self-service hubs for communities where people can charge their phones, use the internet, and access other services.
There are multiple ways to tackle the problem. And as long as companies can listen to users’ needs and reconcile cultural barriers, technology can be a real solution.
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I would strongly propose that as a result, we need to use artificial intelligence for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector mapping. There is a need to identify the impact of climate change variation on functionality of water points.
More than 900 million people worldwide, are not receiving their drinking-water from improved water sources like ground water according to the UN’s Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking. The report highlights areas of stagnation and suggests the post-2015 challenges that need to be addressed. Specifically sighted is no- functionality, regarded as one of the key reasons for low access.
Most groundwater originates directly from excess rainfall infiltrating the land surface. Thus land use has a major influence on both groundwater quantity, quality and recharge rates. Different land-use practices leave distinctive signatures on the quantity, quality of groundwater recharge and, in some instances, result in low ground waters hence arid conditions, diffused groundwater pollution, irrespective of climatic conditions. Similarly, land-use practices influence groundwater recharge rates, especially under more arid conditions.
The ability to supply water directly from rainfall using rainwater harvesting, from springs and surface water (with or without piped distribution), or from groundwater using hand-dug wells and boreholes, depends fundamentally on the availability of rainfall, surface water or groundwater – in other words on water resources.
In arid and semi-arid areas of South Africa for instance (and indeed parts of Uganda), communities may only have a limited number of wells and boreholes where they can access groundwater. In dry periods, there are long queues and competition for access between different water users -including livestock.
In absence of technical bits that should be monitored such as (low yields, poor water quality, mechanical breakdown), causal factors (poor siting, poor construction, wrong materials, wrong borehole design, lack of supervision and many others) and the underlying conditions of lack of hydro geological understanding, weak procurement processes and lack of technical and financial capacity of communities, all compound threats to water supply and use. It is only through monitoring that well-informed management decisions and operating principles can be used to improve water security and ensure fair allocation of water.
There is need to strengthen sustainable monitoring approaches to better take account of ongoing threats though the use of ICT/ mobile phones, to ensure sustained access to water supply to vulnerable communities.
I would strongly propose that as a result, we need to use artificial intelligence for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector mapping. There is a need to identify the impact of climate change variation on functionality of water points.
Climate change to date stands as an obstacle to increased access to equitable water and sanitation and governments and scientists disregard a considered response only at the peril of the population, especially in Africa. To prove the concept the sector can do this through an ICT project to use mobile phones to update and repair broken down water points.
This will be the rigorous assessment of the causes of failure, and the outputs of the phone will significantly increase the capacity of availability of information to ensure investment in sustainable services that really achieves lasting water based land use success. Monitoring is essential because Water resources (rural water boreholes with hand pumps) and surface water suffer high failure rates. Understanding the causes of these failures is necessary to carry out more effective service provision. Differential water tables, Low yield and poor water quality are symptomatic of human activity and poor land use, poor siting, construction and materials selection. Underlying causes lie in poor practices of implementing agencies, and especially the lack of competent real-time information for various sustainability actions. Luckily, technology is here and must be embraced and utilised to the full.
Green industry is an approach that realizes the potential for industries to decouple economic growth from excessive and increasing resource use, thereby reducing pollution and generating additional revenues. It foresees a world where industrial sectors will minimize waste in every form, use renewable resources as input materials and fuels, and take every possible precaution to avoid harming workers, communities, climate, or the environment. Green industries will be creative and innovative, constantly developing new ways of improving their economic, environmental and social performance.
Enterprises in developing countries and countries with economies in transition are facing numerous challenges in their effort to maintain or increase their competitiveness on the local market and access to international markets with good-quality products, comply with environmental standards and reduce operational costs. In order to assist companies in dealing with such challenges and to direct them towards the “green industry” paradigm, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) designed a specific methodology, the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology (TEST), which exists as both an integrated approach and a global programme.
TEST combines the essential elements of tools like Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production, Environmental Management Systems and Environmental Management Accounting, and applies them on the basis of a comprehensive diagnosis of enterprise performance. As a result of the customized integration and implementation of these tools and their elements, the key output is the adoption of best practices, and new skills and management culture, as well as corporate social responsibility, enabling the company to carry on the improvement journey towards sustainable entrepreneurship.
The first TEST pilot programme was launched in 2000 in the Danube River Basin. Since then, TEST has been replicated in several regions worldwide within industrial hot spot areas, contributing to the prevention of the discharge of industrial effluents into international waters (rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastal areas) and thereby protecting water resources for future generations.
In 2009, UNIDO launched the MEDTEST initiative with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Italian government to promote the transfer and adoption of cleaner technology in industries in three countries of the Southern Mediterranean region: Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
The project aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of introducing best practices and integrated management systems in terms of cost reduction, productivity increase and environmental performance. A pool of 43 manufacturing sites – mostly small and medium-sized enterprises – across seven industrial sectors in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia actively participated in MED TEST during 2010-2011.
A core objective of the MED TEST initiative was building national capacity. This was achieved by extensive training and a technical assistance programme that targeted six national institutions and service providers and 30 local professionals, in addition to the staff of the 43 demonstration companies. As a result, a network of local resources is now engaged in promoting the TEST approach and will be able to extend the experience gained to other industries in the region. The active participation of the staff of the demonstration companies in the training and in the implementation of the project ensures the sustainability of all identified actions at company level, as well as that of
newly developed projects.
A DRAFT policy which elevates sanitation as a priority and holds municipalities to account has received the backing of social justice groups.
The last time the policy on sanitation was reviewed was 10 years ago.
The Department of Water and Sanitation has drafted a new policy, and opened it for public comment until March14, with some of the focus areas being the right to access to basic sanitation services and prioritising hygiene and basic sanitation services to vulnerable people and unserviced households.
Marie Brisley, the department’s water policy chief director said it will play a stronger role in ensuring municipalities budget properly and meet the standards in terms of wastewater works.
There has been no substantive policy regulating sanitation provision in South Africa, which has left implementation haphazard and without basic standards, Social Justice Coalition (SJC) spokesperson Axolile Notywala said on Tuesday.
Brisley admitted that sanitation provision had not received the necessary attention it required, and was usually the last thing municipalities budgeted for.
“That is why a lot of the wastewater treatment works are neglected and the water that goes back into the water resources does not meet the standards,” Brisley said.
At a public consultation in the city yesterday, SJC deputy general secretary Dustin Kramer said he liked aspects of the draft policy, and Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement leader Loyiso Nkohla said the policy considered a wide range of issues.
Ses’Khona spearheaded a campaign for the installation of permanent toilets in informal settlements by dumping human faeces in public areas, notably the Cape Town International Airport.
“The government has done a wonderful job in covering issues on a wider spectrum. But they have neglected to include consultation from groups before drafting the policy,” Nkohla said.
In a statement, Notywala said: “Over several years, the SJC has led a campaign for clean and safe sanitation in informal settlements.
“Access to clean, safe and dignified sanitation facilities for all is one of the most basic rights. It is not a luxury. The continued violation of this right is one of apartheid’s greatest legacies and today’s most difficult challenges.
“We encourage communities and relevant stakeholders to make submissions and to ensure that the policy ultimately adopted is appropriate, and has the impact so urgently needed.”
Brisley said the country was expected to experience increased urbanisation, which will put strain on urban sanitation systems.
But at the same time, growing and changing settlements in rural areas are also putting pressure on small and limited sanitation systems.
THE provision of water to entire citizens of the continent is a formidable task that can nonetheless be fulfilled.
This has the prevailing sentiment at the seventh Africities Summit ongoing in Johannesburg.
Chris Heymans, Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist at the World Bank, based in Nairobi, Kenya said although major challenges existed, World Bank research presently being undertaken found there were spots of encouragement on the continent.
It was these examples that could provide the impetus for effectively tackling water and sanitation problems across the continent by providing tangible examples of success to other local authorities and utilities.
The ideal delivery system for water was piping of the commodity into homes of users, said Heymans.
This had a profound impact on the quality of life of individuals, but -because of rapid urbanisation in Africa’s cities – this ideal was being hampered by growing slum settlements on the outskirts of cities where people still had to move long distances to find water.
Across the continent, the needs of settled, ‘richer’ communities and those of poorer consumers were tackled in various ways. Some authorities restricted themselves to piped delivery to more affluent areas, whilst other cities argued for not providing water at household levels.
“Whatever the arguments for and against, the fact was that it was the poor who suffered as they had to pay more for water than more privileged consumers. They also relied on ‘water merchants’ to supply what could be water of a poor standard. The impact on quality of life and health were obvious,” Heymans said.
He cited an example of Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, where a working compromise had been established and was working for the benefit of all parties.
Although city inhabitants received piped water, the city authorities had taken the decision to extend their water network by running pipes to the outskirts of areas dominated by informal settlements outside the city limits.
“Here, people who had been selling water, had been recruited as partners and were engaged in running the pipe network further into these areas and selling access to water piped closer to peoples’ homes,” Heymans said.
To ensure that these services could be supplied at a reasonable rate to the people, the delivery of water to the outskirts of these areas was subsidised by the utility.
“The result had been an increase in the quality of life for thousands of people,” said Heymans said.
How can water be better managed to ensure enough supply for a growing global population? Our panel of water experts have their say.
Calculate the water available: We need a better accounting of our “water balance sheet”. In many places, we don’t have any idea how current and near-term future demand matches up with the available surface and groundwater supplies. The WRI’s Aqueduct tool has a water supply/demand indicator – called “baseline water stress” – that gives a good preliminary read on whether local water use is sustainable or not. Betsy Otto, global director – water programme, World Resources Institute, Washington DC, US, @wriaqueduct
Link global water use: Although the Swiss are quite efficient at using water within our country, we have a huge water footprint because of all the food and goods we import, often from very water stressed parts of the world. Globalisation means there is a global water economy at play. Government regulation or taxation could nudge behaviours onto a more sustainable path. Sean Furey, water and sanitation specialist, Skat, St Gallen, Switzerland, @thewatercyclist
Think across sectors: Currently, those who work on “water services” think almost exclusively in terms of access, and those who work on “water resources” think in terms of sectors and water usage. I think the water service people (myself included) need to think harder about where the water for increasing coverage is going to come from, and how we can best implement sanitation services that protect water resources. Sophie Trémolet, director, Trémolet Consulting, London, United Kingdom, @stremolet
Treat water resources better: For a long time we treated water as limitless, and the incentive structures in cities and rural areas pushed people towards unsustainable practices. Water distribution being highly subsidised by governments doesn’t help create awareness about its actual value. We must make measurable efforts to change water-use habits in a global scale. Carlos Hurtado Aguilar, manager – sustainable development of water resources, FEMSA Foundation, Monterrey, Mexico
Develop water monitoring and regulation: Governments can provide both regulatory sideboards – such as requirements for full cost recovery on water tariffs – and incentives – such as cost-share on water reuse and rainwater harvesting systems. For developing countries (and many developed countries) this may feel like a daunting task, but governments do this sort of thing for education, energy, and other sectors. It’s high time to do the same for water. Betsy Otto
Establish accountability mechanisms: To secure a safe water supply for the poorest people, service providers should get into trouble when they fail to provide the services the poorest need. There should be cross-subsidies between the rich and the poor but most importantly cross-subsidies that work in reverse should be eliminated. With the money saved, direct subsidies can be given to the poor. We should also encourage the poorest people to be more self-reliant (e.g. encourage rainwater harvesting practices) and to demand good quality services as customers. Sophie Trémolet
Construct better water points: I’ve been looking at water point data in various countries and the number of boreholes and wells that are reported dry or seasonal only is shocking. In places like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Tanzania, more than 15 to 20% of water points fail in the first year after construction. That’s why we are working with Wateraid and Unicef to improve water well drilling practices. Poor communities often have to contribute a great deal for a new water point, so it clearly isn’t right when they are left with a dud. Sean Furey
Invest in simple, efficient irrigation technology: Some means of beating water scarcity in agriculture – for example, farming close to rivers – are cheap but unsustainable. This could of course be prevented if there is an effort to invest in simple but efficient technologies for irrigation. This would break the vicious cycle where water scarcity leads to the invasion of marginal lands near rivers, which in turn undermines the ability of the river system to replenish its water resources, leading to further scarcity. Greenwell Matchaya, researcher and economist, International Water Management Institute, Pretoria, South Africa, @IWMI_
Promote rainwater harvesting: We need to challenge the way that rainwater harvesting is thought of. Everyone knows about it, but its use and implementation is piecemeal and I don’t see any big agencies or donors pushing it forward. Can we have a ‘reinvent rainwater harvesting’ challenge? Sean Furey
Secure sufficient financing. To guarantee future populations have reliable access to water and sanitation, the top priority is securing the money to ensure that systems are built and adequately maintained over the years. Sophie Trémolet
Work with communities: The sustainability of water interventions is essential if we want communities to actually have better opportunities for development in the future. Helping community leaders take ownership of their water solutions and transferring that to their neighbours is one of the best ways to ensure projects remain a part of people’s lives. Carlos Hurtado Aguilar
Invest in staff skills and capacity: To get good water data requires skilled hydrometric staff. It isn’t sexy and it is often the first budget line to be cut when departments are squeezed but it’s essential. I worked in Liberia (before the Ebola outbreak) last year and one of the major challenges for managing water resources we found is that there are hardly any measurements of anything and it’s difficult to guarantee the quality of the information that does exist. Sean Furey
Apply smart strategies: WRI’s global analysis is finding that future water stress is driven far more by demand than supply. Even in areas that will experience big hydrologic impacts from climate change, unmanaged demand will be a bigger impact. Ironically, that is cause for some optimism. If we apply the smart strategies that we already know work in the urban, rural and agricultural contexts, we can reduce future conflict and secure more water for equitable development and growth. Betsy Otto