A wide ranging conversation about the Water Challenge

By Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

18 December 2012 See comments (11)

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.


Watch the video

  1. Lambelet René @ ---

    19 Dec 2012 - 15:10 (GMT)

    I hope governments will not wait too long before knocking at the door of your water group, urgency is there for all countries as we are all interdependants !
    Bravo for the initiative...

  2. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestle

    19 Dec 2012 - 16:58 (GMT)

    Thanks for the comment René – I hope to bring back some good news from Davos at the end of January 2013.
    Regards, Peter

  3. Grigorios Bokias @ volkswagen

    19 Dec 2012 - 16:30 (GMT)

    respect nature

  4. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestle

    19 Dec 2012 - 17:00 (GMT)

    Agree with your comment. Actually I started to think about a possible post on environmental flows. Would you have any ideas on this?
    Regards, Peter

  5. Frederick Aherne @ Milkiland NV

    19 Dec 2012 - 16:47 (GMT)

    A thoroughly thought provoking discussion.
    Great news about the modification of the EU bio-diesel target based on the activism of the group!
    But it would be good to hear if India actually DO anything after the group provided the financial data on what action will cost.
    What is sad is that I, and many like me would not have heard the message without being an alumni. So how do we spread the message.
    It is necessary to create activists that can talk to Governments and NGO's is all parts of the world. And to do that we need to be able to tap into the facts.
    I am working currently in Eastern Europe, in Ukraine, with fairly regular interaction with Government authorities. At the moment water is not even on the agenda.
    Keep on Peter we are all behind you.

  6. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestle

    19 Dec 2012 - 17:58 (GMT)

    Thanks for your comment and support. Any help from your side to spread the message about the nature and urgency of the water challenge across the world would be most welcome.
    With reference to India: things are changing slowly – but in the right direction. The central government overhauled its water strategy, the state of Karnataka is organising a workshop on water for agriculture to prepare concrete action, and the Government of Maharashtra has invited us to start working with them.
    I was interested about your remark on Ukraine, what is the situation there concerning water?
    Regards, Peter

  7. Frederick Aherne @ Milkiland NV

    24 Dec 2012 - 12:47 (GMT)

    Thank you for the reply. I apologise for delay but I lost my internet connection for a few days.
    As for our situation in Ukraine their is no immediate concern expressed by either national Government, NGO's or industry. However the situation is not robust or collectively organised.
    We rely in cities on major district heating schemes which have massive losses - there has been no significant investment since 10's of years. The main distribution pipes for heating and fresh water are crumbling and there is a patch and mend mentality. I accept the state is not rich but there is not a long term mentality in terms of balancing capital spend and ongoing cost of supply.
    In parts of the country more or less anyone can apply for an abstraction license and the only check for abstraction volume is the impact on the immediate aquifer caused by pumping at maximum volume for 1 hour. There are no follow up checks for aquifer sustainability or indeed if the abstractor increases the rate of abstraction.
    I accept your point and the implied challenge - it is up to us all to do what we can and speak out to make changes happen. Progress may be slow - but there is still progress.
    Thank you for the inspiration

  8. Claudio Crivelli @ IMD business school

    30 Dec 2012 - 12:57 (GMT)

    Dear Mr Brabeck,
    Thank you for the speech at IMD beginning of December. Personally It was an eye opener session on the criticality of this global issue.

    I would like to have a clarification about the global water footprint standard you mentioned during your speech. If I understood you correctly you put into a question the value of this indicator as it doesn't consider fundamental principles in the calculation, such as "water is local".

    Did I understand correctly? If yes, what other parameters are not considered?
    Which indicators would you suggest to have a look from the water resources group?

    Thank you in advance for you answer. I wish you all the best for 2013 to you and your family.

    Claudio Crivelli

  9. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestle

    15 Jan 2013 - 16:14 (GMT)

    Dear Mr Crivelli,
    Very briefly : one kg of CO2 always has the same impact, whether being produced in Switzerland or in Mali, in winter or in summer. Water is different. One litre here is not the same as one litre in Sudan, one litre during the monsoon period is not the same as one litre during the period when plants grow. During a flood, water may even get a negative value because it helps everybody when you withdraw and use some of it. During my speech I mentioned Oman, there are differences in the value of water that emerge when you make it tradable. My blog post that came after the one on the speech at IMD explains further what is behind this: https://www.water-challenge.com/posts/Insights-from-antiquity-Oman-and-the-art-of-water-pricing . Actually, as Oman shows, even within one country, the value of water differs with factor 1:4 between regions and 1:12 according to the season.
    So, adding up one kg of CO2 to reflect a “footprint” may make sense, but adding litres of water the same way mixes apples, pears and melons.
    Best regards,

  10. Claudio Crivelli @ IMD business school

    19 Jan 2013 - 18:16 (GMT)

    Dear Mr Brabeck,
    Thank you for the explanation. Cristal clear like swiss glacier water.

    Best regards,

  11. Andre Bezemer @ Nestle

    18 Jan 2013 - 10:56 (GMT)

    I hope many people watch this interview and realize that not all we see on television is matching up with the real facts. In addition this video hopefully encourages people in Western countries to become a little more thoughtful with water usage at home. For most of us it is normal that we for example sort waste to allow for recycling, shouldn't it also be normal that we all contribute our fair share at home to resolve this urgent global water problem ?

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