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Water Challenge - a blog by Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

Water overuse – falling groundwater tables

Subsidence in major coastal cities due to groundwater pumping.

My last post was about environmental flows – the need for them, and the decreasing volumes of water actually remaining available for nature. This post is about the overuse of groundwater, as underground aquifers suffer even more from overexploitation, i.e., people pumping up groundwater in excess of annual renewal.

Environmental flows – for nature and humans

A Cucapá Native American watches the remains of the Colorado river once it crosses the border from the US to Mexico.  With permission of Peter McBride

In the 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) we defined sustainable supply as natural renewal minus environmental flows. Already in 2010, annual withdrawals exceeded sustainable supply by more than 300 km3 per year, to a large extent at the expense of surface and underground water that should stay reserved for the environment.

Eight mighty rivers running dry over long periods during one year, as well as rapidly shrinking lakes like Aral and Chad - mostly as a result of overuse for irrigation, are a visible testimony to this fact.

A water-secure world for everyone: a shared responsibility

Word of thanks after the speech of the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Didier Burkhalter

On 9 October 2014, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Didier Burkhalter joined the Creating Shared Value Forum 2014 organised by Nestlé and UNCTAD to deliver the closing address. With his permission, I post his important speech (also on YouTube, starting after 1 hour 09’ 40’’), as usual with an invitation to comment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When astrophysicists look for traces of life in the outer space, they look for water. Water is life. Water is a finite resource, which cannot be substituted. Without water there is no health, no food, no energy, no social and economic development, no security – no life.

The 2014 Creating Shared Value Global Forum: Water

With Elhad As Sy, Secretary-General IFRC, Maria Cattaui (moderator) and Margaret Catley-Carlson on the panel

Creating Shared Value (CSV) begins with the understanding that for our business and our shareholders to prosper over the long term, the communities we serve must also prosper, through actions that substantially address a social or environmental challenge. At Nestlé, we focus on three areas - rural development, nutrition and last but not least, water. In all three areas our efforts are about concrete initiatives on our own and in partnerships, but obviously, public policy dialogue is also an essential part of the concept.

On an annual basis we invite stakeholders to stimulate thinking around how business can deliver on this concept of CSV. The last meeting of this series on 9 October 2014 was co-organised by Nestlé and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

I took part in the water session; below is the transcript of some of my remarks pointing to the urgency of this problem. If you would like to watch the full session it is available here.

World Food Day 2014: on water and food

Water for irrigation: a falaj in the mountains of Oman

On the occasion of World Food Day 2014 I gave an interview on water and food. You can find it here.

Not only on World Food Day, we should remember that access to sufficient food (calories and proteins) and nutrition (micronutrients, balance, etc.) remains an issue for hundreds of millions of people in the world.