HomeSustainabilityUniting to tap into water's potential for peace

Uniting to tap into water’s potential for peace

In today’s complex tapestry of global challenges, ensuring water security and sustainability stands out as among the most urgent. The precious resource is essential for life, but two billion people around the world still lack access to safe drinking water, with 500 million residing in Asia alone. Closer to home, access to safe drinking water remains a challenge in Thailand, with around only 40 per cent of water available to households considered safe for consumption. 

Against the backdrop of a worsening climate crisis, the need to scale collective water action has never been more pressing. Yet, water cooperation offers a transformative opportunity to go beyond mere access and security, promoting peace, prosperity, and sustainable development for all.

However, addressing these challenges requires more than individual efforts. As we commemorate this year’s World Water Day, the theme “Leveraging Water for Peace” aptly reminds us of the value of water and the transformative potential of collaboration. By working collectively on knowledge and capacity building, financing, and innovation, we can unlock the full potential of water as a catalyst for progress.

Knowledge-sharing for capacity development

Accelerating knowledge- and information-sharing while building new skills is fundamental for sustainable water management.Sharing insights and experiences fosters collaboration and a collective commitment to water stewardship, ensuring that we remain agile in the face of evolving challenges.

For instance, cities that stand at the forefront of climate change impacts can tap on opportunities to connect to identify common needs and priorities, exchange experiences, develop adaptation and resilience strategies. Platforms like the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group facilitate knowledge exchange between major cities, enabling them to implement meaningful and sustainable local climate actions that ultimately aim to address the global threat of climate change.

C40’s Water Safe Cities project exemplifies this collaborative approach, bringing together cities and expert advisors to develop research and solutions for urban water-related risks. The project leverages a broad network of public and private advisors and engages cities in exchanging best practices, ensuring informed and actionable research. 

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Separately, knowledge-sharing can also help to spark greater awareness and communication around water issues and the centrality of water, ensuring that conversations about water extend beyond the water community. To improve the quality, accuracy, and intensity of reporting and storytelling on water, the World Water Week Water in Communications programme was developed to empower journalists and communicators to build and exchange knowledge and skills in water reporting and communication. Running annually since 2021, the programme has reached almost 500 participants to date.

Bridging the financing gap

With water resources under severe stress, there is a growing need for public and private capital to be directed to the water sector to compensate for decades of underinvestment and prepare for future challenges. To address water sector risks and achieve water security, the investment needed in water-related infrastructure is estimated at approximately US$6.7 trillion by 2030, and US$22.6 trillion by 2050.

This urgency is all the more acute in emerging economies including Asia Pacific, where approximately US$198 billion per year is required between 2015 to 2030 to achieve access to safely managed water to make water security and sustainability.

Closing the critical financing gap will require a multi-stakeholder approach. While governments have a key role to play in creating supportive policies, institutions, and regulations to facilitate investment flows into the water sector, the private sector and other stakeholders, including multilateral or non-governmental organisations and institutional investors, can also provide financing through instruments such as loans or grants. 

Additionally, collaborative opportunities in financing, such as public-private partnership (PPP) models and blended finance, offer promising avenues to mobilise resources and share risks. One such example is a joint project to bring safe and affordable drinking water to Baseco, Manila by the Asia Society for Social Improvement & Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) and Grundfos.

Through the Grundfos Foundation’s Community Engagement Grant of 7,100,000 Philippine pesos, the community in Baseco – one of the most densely populated and largest informal settlements in the Philippine capital – received two solar-powered water filtration units, enabling more than 4,000 locals per day to access safe water for drinking and handwashing.

Accelerating innovation

Technology holds immense potential to build water resilience, water security and sustainability. Businesses are leading the way by implementing innovative and sustainable water solutions in their operations, showcasing the potential for replication and scalability of technologies like artificial intelligence, big data management, and sensor technology. 

Meanwhile, businesses can also further accelerate innovation in the water sector in collaboration with other stakeholders such as governments, research institutions, fellow industry players, and communities.

Recognising the advantages of working hand in hand with other stakeholders in the water ecosystem, Grundfos has partnered with Singapore Polytechnic to collaborate with staff and students in co-developing and implementing innovative, energy and water efficient smart solutions aimed at supporting industries in Singapore in their efforts to be sustainable.

As the next generation of innovators and changemakers come to the fore, investing in young talent is critical to ensure they can pioneer the water sector’s future. The Youth Action for SDG 6 Fellowship, a joint initiative by Grundfos and the International Water Association (IWA), empowers Young Water Professionals (YWPs) to an opportunity to contribute their voices and ideas around developing solutions.

Besides participating in the 2023 United Nations Water Conference in New York, the 13 selected YWPs also presented insights and projects to scale sustainable water management in an impactful report alongside the 5th IWA 2023 Emerging Water Leaders Forum, with Grundfos and IWA committing to support the YWPs in strengthening their projects following its publication.

Building a secure and equitable water future underpins peace, prosperity, and development for all. However, to unlock the full potential of water as an engine and catalyst for development and stability, collective action by all stakeholders is imperative.

By fostering the exchange of knowledge for capacity development, mobilising capital to accelerate water resilience, and formulating innovative solutions to address water challenges, we can build a more water-secure and peaceful future for all. 

Attributed to: Rick Holland, Regional Managing Director APAC – Water Utility & Executive Director Grundfos Australia



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