With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 and the conclusion of Paris Agreement on Climate Change in December 2015 and its coming into force on 4 November 2016, water has assumed added significance in the realization of the targets of these two momentous agreements because water is the key to sustainable development as well as climate change. Attainment of the targets of the SDGs within a stipulated period along with achieving the targets of Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with water being at the core, new policies and programmes based on innovative techniques and technology along with new concepts of cooperation and partnership are called for to replace the existing concepts and approaches like treating water merely as a sector, Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) etc.
We at India water Foundation regard water as not merely a sector, but a connector that provides solutions because water community makes available holistic solutions that can support strategies to tackle effectively climate change and facilitate hassle-free adaptation. Water connects policy areas, economic sectors and societies and as such it is a tool for cooperation and for building trust.
Water is the most effective tool to tackle vagaries of climate change because climate change is water change. Therefore, it is essentially vital that water is an integral part of initiatives to mitigate and adapt to climate change. In the wake of the fact that the impacts of climate change are felt through water, with flooding, erratic rain patterns, pro-longed droughts, and other extreme weather events; water becomes a critical factor for successful climate change mitigation, as many efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depend on reliable access to water resources. Inability to address the relationship between water and climate entails the potential of putting humankind’s future in jeopardy. Therefore, it is imperative that actors across sectors must systematically integrate water resources management into their climate adaptation and mitigation strategies.
We at India Water Foundation (IWF) strongly feel that the existing Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) approach should be replicated by Sustainable Integrated Water Management (SIWM), which entails conducting of the technical, social and economic research required to support next generation, sustainable systems and facilitate a “One Water Management” approach that takes a holistic, systems view of wastewater, drinking water and storm-water infrastructure, as well as other infrastructure such as transportation and energy. Undoubtedly, implementation of SWIM or ‘One Water Management’ approach many impediments, which are more than technical and science related and its implementation involves policy, communication, and cooperation; nevertheless, IWF can help in carrying out the research that can help inform policy and good decision-making, drive implementation of technical innovations, and create momentum toward achieving the objectives of ‘One Water Management’.
India Water Foundation has been enthusiastically espousing the water-energy-food nexus approach in water sector for about half a decade, Keeping in view the close nexus between water, environment, energy and food, solution to water related problems can better be facilitated through this ‘nexus approach’, which seeks to find solutions based on convergence between various sectors or disciplines and is being widely regarded along with resilience to attain sustainable development. The nexus approach can serve as a bridge that could engulf the gap between the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development. In pursuance of this ‘nexus approach’, the IWF focuses on Environmental Security, Water Security, Energy Security and Food Security.
We at IWF are espousing Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) approach to mitigate climate change related adverse impact. EbA entails the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy. EBA uses sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, taking into account anticipated climate change impact trends, to reduce the vulnerability and improve the resilience of ecosystems and people to climate change impacts.
There is growing recognition of the role ecosystems can play in helping people adapt to climate change. The concepts of EBA, working with nature, building with nature and green infrastructure, while having different scopes, follow the same rationale: healthy ecosystems and the multiple services they provide are part of our life insurance and are essential in any strategy for avoiding dangerous climate change, which ensures a carefully planned network of biodiversity-rich areas, is an essential pillar of green infrastructure that can also enhance resilience to natural disasters, such as floods, landslides or storm surges. This natural capital is now becoming even more valuable in the face of challenges that climate change presents.
We at IWF have come to realize that the most popular existing arrangement, namely Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in itself is inadequate to attain SDGs within the stipulated period and, therefore, are inclined to subscribe to the viewpoint of Louis Mueleman, who has suggested that involving civil society in partnerships between governments and private sector on an equal basis will change not only how partnerships are understood, but also how they are implemented. Accordingly, he emphasizes on the need to move from PPP to “ABC” partnerships, where Administration, Business and Civil society are partners on equal footing.
Under the ABC Partnership mechanism, the administrative partners strive for solutions that serve the commons; the business partners strive to create added value, in a context of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development and civil society organizations (CSOs) strive to maximize the interests of the groups/people/topics they represent, in a context of social responsibility and sustainable development. Thus, ABC partnerships could be used to address a wide variety of issues.
India Water Foundation is earnestly committed to help realize the targets of the SDGs and objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with water being at the core of sustainable development and climate change, with the help of adoption of innovative approaches like SWIM, water-energy-food nexus, EbA and ABC.