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Water Challenge - a blog by Peter Brabeck-Letmathe


I hope this blog will create discussion about the important issue of water use and availability around the world.

Your comments and views are very important and I encourage you to help me build and develop the conversation.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

Chairman Nestlé SA

Development goals, water resources management and the role of the private sector

Together with Jin-Yong Cai of IFC listening to M. Mohieldin, Special Envoy of Worldbank President, T. Stelzer, UN Assistant Secretary-General and M. Anderson, Director DFID and Special Envoy to PM Cameron

Many of you have asked me questions in recent days about my views on the human right to water. I want to thank you for taking part in this discussion and encourage you to keep engaging on the important issue of water scarcity.

In my role as Chairman of the Water Resources Group, I have just visited the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC in the United States for 2030 Water Resources Group meetings and a high-level discussion on a water goal within the post-2015 UN Development Strategy, combining the Millennium Development Goals with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Water is one of the biggest challenges for sustainable development over the coming decades. Its effects can be felt right across all three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic. There is one important dimension of the social pillar of sustainability that must be kept in mind: water for survival is a human right.

Catalysts for Action – the 2030 Water Resources Group 2012 Annual Report

At the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of last month, I chaired the constitutional meeting of the Governing Council of the 2030 Water Resources Group . On this occasion, the Council also approved the group’s 2012 Annual Report.

It has taken decades to realise that water security is a global issue. Today’s water security threat is unlike previous extremes against which we evolved and adapted. Because it is more gradual than hurricanes or volcanic eruptions, fires or floods, yet harder to escape than local drought and hunger, the risk posed by water scarcity is complex, silent, invisible and global.

A wide-ranging conversation about the Water Challenge

I recently talked to the IMD Corporate Learning Network, part of the International Institute for Management Development, a Swiss business school. We covered a wide range of topics: water scarcity, the creation of the Water Resources Group, the lessons that the world can learn from India, moving from education to implementation, the pricing of water, and the role of bottled water. Please take a look at the video and let me know your thoughts and reactions.

If you are having problems with watching the video, please click here

The Indian water challenge – WEF Water Summit at India

As I have mentioned before, it was in India that I was first convinced of the scale of the water challenge and the need to address it through a collaborative approach. I will be back in India next week, both for Nestlé’s annual Global Creating Shared Value Forum, but also to speak at the “Water Summit at India” in New Delhi/Gurgaon on Tuesday, in my role as Chairman of the Water Resources Group (WRG).
India is a vital part of the water debate: it is on track to become the world’s third largest economy by 2015, and the most populous country by 2030. Yet the initial report by the 2030 Water Resources Group has highlighted the scale of the water challenge it faces as a result of such momentous growth. It argues that the simultaneous effects of growing food and energy needs, rapid industrialisation coupled with declining surface and groundwater quantity, intra- and interstate water disputes, and inefficiencies in water practice, mean that freshwater withdrawals in 2030 may be almost twice the volume of sustainable supply.
So, what needs to be done? I argue that we should focus on three key areas.