11 January 2013
Water, Millennium Development Goals
In July 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that 27 members of a High-level Panel would advise on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Two leading industrialists were invited by the UN Secretary General to join this important group, Ms Betty Maina, Chief Executive of Kenya’s Association of Manufacturers, and Mr Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever.
In an effort to reach out to the wider business community, Paul asked me to act as the water ambassador to help assemble a broader, more coherent submission from global business. As part of this outreach, I hope that we will be able to benefit from advice from members of the UN Global Compact Water Mandate.
At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to initiate a wider consultation on how the world should look at water after 2015, including a look at what water-related strategies would help the global community to focus on the issues that matter most within the post-2015 global development efforts.
“Now that the United States is using 40% of its crop to make biofuel, it is not surprising that tortilla prices have doubled in Guatemala… Just three years ago, one quetzal – about 15 cents – bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four.” This startling development, set out and explored in great detail in the International Herald Tribune on Monday, illustrates one of the main unintended consequences of the huge increases in biofuel incentives, subsidies, mandates and other regulations. I urge readers to take a look at the article.
As regular readers of my blog will know,
this is a topic
close to my heart. I believe, however, that this message is worth repeating, as some governments and organisations are still in denial. At least partly in order to avoid an unpleasant truth, the re-designed method to estimate the number of people going hungry to bed, no longer captures “the effects of food price and other economic shocks” (Source:
FAO, the State of Food Insecurity in the World, Rome, September 2012).
But food prices do matter in the real world of the hungry. As the article states, “the average Guatemalan is now hungrier because of biofuel development,” This is an unacceptable state of affairs and action needs to be taken. I hope readers of this blog agree with me?
07 January 2013
aflaj, oman, water pricing, water rights
We rarely value what we don’t pay for. This is an unfortunate paradox, but it is also a human reality. And for water, this means that until we set a price the world will continue to overlook its essential value.
This is an issue that I have touched on previously in relation to my firm belief that water should be regarded as a human right but not a free good.
The idea of pricing water, which is sometimes viewed as controversial, can sometimes be mistaken as a very modern concept. Yet its true origins can be traced back to antiquity to the Aflaj water systems in Oman.
As the purpose of this blog is to facilitate an informed debate about the water challenge, I am particularly pleased to be able to share the insights of eminent experts such as Asit K Biswas. Professor Biswas is Founder of the Third World Centre for Water Management in Mexico, and Distinguished visiting professor of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore and has contributed to this blog before
In recent years water has been receiving considerable attention from the global media, policy-makers and the general public. However, this attention has not always been on the most pressing water problems that the world is facing at present or likely to face in the coming decades. The current concern has been that the world is soon going to run out of water. In fact, publications on the impending global water crisis due to physical scarcity of water are truly a growth industry! Having pointed out that such a crisis is inevitable, people then argue that as the scarcities become acute there is likely to be wars between the countries because of shortages of water in many parts of the world.
If one puts “water crisis” in Google, some 132 million items are identified. If “water wars” is used, it brings 74.7 million results! Concerns with both of these issues, like the universe, are expanding constantly!
My view is somewhat different.
18 December 2012
Video, IMD, Water Resources Group, water scarcity
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