Following a packed calendar of seminars, workshops and events, three representatives of the HSBC Water Programme reflect on what they have learned and how this is relevant to the work they are doing.
Earthwatch’s Senior Freshwater Research Manager, Professor Steven Loiselle, said: “The Theme of the week, ‘Water Co-operation – Building Partnerships, was true to its name and I was able to make excellent links to water scientists and water programmes across the globe.”
Steven observed “You cannot manage what you do not measure”. This came through in several sessions, highlighting the fact that many decisions have not been made at all, or not made correctly, due to the lack of long-term data. The good news is that new technologies mean that citizen scientists can come to the fore and become a key global resource in monitoring and managing freshwater resources… so HSBC Citizen Scientists Leaders are needed more than ever before.
Steven also noted that collective action and knowledge sharing is fundamental to reducing the growing potential for conflict related to water availability. The information gathered by HSBC Citizen Science Leaders will play an important role in improving the exchange of knowledge between policy makers and stakeholders, and between communities with similar challenges.
Amy Langridge, Senior Communications Manager at WWF-UK, joined a seminar on the potential for corporate water stewardship partnerships to benefit society. Amy observed that as corporates become increasingly aware of the business risks associated with water scarcity, there are an increasing number of collaborations between business, NGO’s and governments to implement collective action to tackle global water issues. Amy noted that this year, there was clearly a much stronger corporate presence at World Water Week.
This need for partnership was a recurring theme throughout World Water Week. WWF’s work across the five priority freshwater places in which they are working under the HSBC Water Programme, is dependent not only upon WWF’s partnership with HSBC, but with communities, local businesses and local and national governments. Amy felt that this African proverb nicely captured the spirit of co-operation on water: “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.”
WaterAid’s Senior Business Development Manager, Scott McCready, said: “World Water Week is absolutely central to how we develop collaborations and partnerships, how we share knowledge, learn from each other and discuss possible overlaps and opportunities.”
Scott noted that companies operating in water stressed markets who use large volumes of water are pushing for better water management and in doing so, find themselves sharing a platform with some of the world’s poorest people. There exists a real opportunity to harness the financial, logistical and political power of these leading companies to influence the local and national water provision plans so as to be pro-poor, to support universal access.
Scott commented that from a WASH and WaterAid perspective it is important that any activities companies partake in align with local and national plans. WASH does not need new initiatives; it needs new players supporting duty bearers (ie governments) to fulfil their responsibilities to universal access.
Scott also drew attention to ‘a really insightful briefing from our colleagues at WWF’ called “Water Stewardship: Perspectives on business risks and responses to water challenges” which he’d wholeheartedly recommend anyone interested in this space read.
Our HSBC Water Programme representatives came away from World Water Week feeling enthused and positive that there is such strong focus on water scarcity and stewardship, and from an ever widening audience. It was also heartening for them to witness the level of interest in the HSBC Water Programme, it is a great example of public private co-operation. After all - no-one can sit by, we all need to be part of the solution.