Matt Damon at Davos

This is my last post from Davos 2014, it is about another highly encouraging part of the water discussion there this year. My post is looking back to the main exchange on water set up for the 2030 Water Resources Group. The purpose of this meeting was to exchange ideas and experiences with other people active in the water area; Matt Damon joined in his capacity as founder of water.org.

Last week I reported on how Matt received the WEF Crystal Award for his great commitment and work on water. He did not leave after receiving this highly deserved recognition at the first day of the 2014 Annual Meeting, but stayed for other sessions, listened and explained.

I took some notes of what he said at our 2030 WRG meeting. I’ve added quotation marks to my summary, because it is his words that I want to see reflected in my report today:

‘It’s a great honor for water.org to join this incredible conversation with many of the world’s experts. All of you know the grim reality of still close to 800 million people on the planet without access to clean water – a reality that I would argue we simply cannot accept as global citizens.

‘While much progress has been achieved over the years, with the global population set to increase from 7 to 9 billion by 2050, it’s clear that we are heading towards even greater competition for precious and scarce water resources. Basic human drinking needs will be compounded by the growing water demand for food production and to generate energy needed for economic growth to ensure prosperity for everyone. I applaud the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report for ranking water security as the number three top global risks for the third year in a row. In my mind it is without doubt one of the greatest priorities of our time. We must rally to end this crisis once for all.

‘Today’s session with the people gathered here convinced me that there is no shortage of commitment and leadership, knowledge and expertise to successfully tackle this issue. My partner Gary White and I co-founded water.org several years ago, but he has been dedicated to this work for almost three decades. While we all may have our own projects and initiatives in which we are involved, what unites us all is a common passion in attacking the water challenge broadly, and the human crisis specifically.

‘Being part of today, I am reminded of a quote from C.S. Lewis who said: “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to sit in a circle of those who are.” For me, one of these circles is today here in this room.

‘The key question for me as we close this session, however, is how we collectively sustain this energy beyond Davos and channel it into action.

‘We heard about the power of partnerships and collaboration today.

‘But I also hope that next year here in Davos we could celebrate a global sustainable development goal on water, including universal water access and sanitation by 2030. We can look for successful models that are enabling governments and respecting all people as customers and citizens with rights to access basic and quality services. We recognise that it is complex and it will require us to think about water holistically. But this is all within reach. I and the other members of our team in water.org are so excited to join you all in that next chapter.”