A personal blog from Sue Alexander, senior manager of the 5 year HSBC Water Programme.
Quite simply, water is a huge and growing global challenge. It is essential to all human activity, driving social and economic growth – but our water resources are under strain from population growth, development and climate change. Together with our three partners (WaterAid, Earthwatch and WWF) we are going to tackle water risks in river basins, bring safe water and improved sanitation to over a million people and raise awareness about the global water challenge. In the words of our Chairman, Douglas Flint, “The HSBC Water Programme will benefit communities in need, and enable economies to prosper.” This week is a very special week – it is World Water Week, an annual event in Stockholm since 1991, when representatives from the worlds of business, science, policy and government gather to exchange views, experiences and practices, culminating in actions to tackle the global water challenge. I am here in Stockholm to learn more about how the HSBC Water Programme can best contribute to the solutions. I have much to learn, but World Water Week provides me with the opportunity to listen to and meet some fascinating and dedicated individuals who are joined in a common goal to tackle the world’s water problems. I will be blogging from Stockholm over the next few days, so you can share my experiences. Sunday 26 August Arrived at World Water Week, a huge conference centre, 10 mins on the train from central Stockholm. This is THE place to be to find out about the global issues around water and sanitation and meet those who are so passionate about making a difference. The conference is one where there are several seminars going on simultaneously so you have to choose very carefully how to spend your time. The first session I attended on a wet Sunday afternoon was “Sanitation and Water for All”. Convened by Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), an alliance of over 80 partners – governments, corporations, civil society, with a set of common values. The session included consultation with the audience on how SWA can best work together – many attendees were from Africa and Asia, countries which face huge water challenges. I left the session feeling confident that action will be taken – although I am in awe of the scale of the challenges. Earlier in the year, 35 developed countries had committed to increasing access to 307m new users of sanitation and 224m new users of water services, benefiting countries such as Ethiopia and Nigeria. Interestingly, the UK and Netherlands are key donors. The session highlighted the importance of financing, visibility and private sector involvement, so I felt heartened that in HSBC we are doing our bit. Through this session it became very clear to me just how important it is to have monitoring and transparency to improve decision making and to make the best possible use of funding and resources. One of the best tools at a global level was deemed to be the Joint Monitoring Programme run by World Health Organisation and UNICEF which uses household surveys. The outcomes are available every two years and can be used to help global, regional and local decision making. Smart action will also be improved by strong planning processes and sustainable solutions.