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world water week daily | MONDAY 27 AUGUST | 2018

Individual human development – or shared

Marina Demaria

Venancio makes

the case for a






Is ecosystem conservation

fundamentally at odds with

human development? That was

the stark subject of the 2018

World Water Week debate

session, which explored the

key themes of this year’s

Week: Water, Ecosystems and

Human Development.

Two teams of experts were pitted

against each other in frequently vehement

debate. The lively, well-attended

session, part of the Young Professionals

programme, was convened by Arup and

SIWI, and chaired by Mark Fletcher,

Global Water Leader at Arup. One

team argued for the motion, the other

demonstrated how human development

and the responsible stewardship of

natural resources could complement

one another.

“Improving the wellbeing of humans

is a basic, basic growth model assumption

[…] to reduce poverty. Today, we have

much less poverty than 10, 20, 30 years

ago; and that is anchored in a very

particular type of growth model that

uses natural resources. We also know

that technology has been able to solve

many problems in areas where we have

a lack of water,” Diego Rodriguez, from

the World Bank, said.

Similarly, Marina Demaria Venancio,

PhD student at the Federal University

of Santa Catarina, Brazil, outlined

a more technology-focused future,

where the natural world was less

important, adding that research and

innovation came at a cost.

Amanda Janoo, Alternative Economic

Policy Advisor at the UN, spoke about

the individualistic nature of human

development: “there is no limit to how

much people want to consume, or how

rich they want to be,” she said.

Responding, Frederick Boltz, CEO

of Resolute Development Solutions,

argued that the fate of the human race

is dependent on the world’s natural


“Humans are an endemic part of the

natural ecosystems that sustain our

planet Earth. We’re part of an ecosystem,

and we thrive best within it. Humans

have prospered throughout history by

benefitting from nature,” he said.

“The growth model uses natural

resources to fuel human wellbeing and

development. Why would we destroy

them when they provide such wealth?”

Boltz asked.

Sunil Abeyasekera, Young Professionals

for Agricultural Development,

Sweden, presented a consensus position:

“It’s not a choice between one or the

other – they co-exist. Youth around

the world are yearning for

these capabilities and

opportunities to

conserve ecosystems.


investing in

our human


together we

can begin to


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Desperate need for green

water investments

For a third consecutive year, the Falkenmark

Symposium focused on the need

for an African water revolution, this year

stressing the importance of finding a

sustainable approach to financing it.

The discussion centred primarily on

green water, i.e. the water found in the soil,

as opposed to blue water found in rivers

and lakes. Professor Malin Falkenmark

stated in her opening remarks that green

water investments in Africa have been

neglected for some time and that not even

large-scale irrigation projects can replace

rain-fed agriculture.

“Plants depend on green water and

ignoring this will have devastating consequences

for food security,” she said.

The director of Stockholm Recilience

Centre, Johan Rockström, who gave his

In one of the first sessions of World

Water Week, Pollution-driven water

scarcity for ecosystems and human uses

worldwide, focus was on the increase of

water scarcity and the cost of inaction.

“We need to improve the understanding

of causes, impact and solu-

Some 40 per cent of the world’s population

lives within 100 km of the coast

and the population density in these

areas is twice the global average. On

top of that, two-thirds of the world’s

cities are located on shorelines. With

this comes enormous challenges for

water security and the state of the


Professor Malin Falkenmark

The GREY-GREEN option

Charles Vörösmarty

keynote speech by phone, added

that while 95 per cent of Africa’s

food production is green waterbased,

90 per cent of all water

investments in Africa are in blue


tions to reduce the gap between the

supply and demand of clean water,”

Maryna Strokal, Wageningen University


Charles Vörösmarty, City University

of New York, highlighted the dilemma

of investing in so called grey infrastructure

using the often very costly

traditional engineering approach.

“Such infrastructure needs to be

maintained to work well but reports

show that not even a developed country

such as the US is doing very well on

this matter. Therefore, we need to look

at blending green solutions and grey,

taking into account the cascading

benefits that green interventions

could have,” Vörösmarty said.

Difficult to manage ground water in coastal areas

The speakers at the session Groundwater

management in coastal zones

agreed that it is crucial to understand

the complex dynamics between freshwater

and salt water. They stated that

combating salt water intrusion into

groundwater is dependent on proper

monitoring systems, based on science

rather than politics.

Greener cities:

“work local,

think national”

The Ecosystems in an urbanizing world:

challenges and opportunities for symbiosis

seminar used five case studies to

kick-start wide-ranging round-table

discussions. A main focus of which was

how local authorities, academia, business,

and, crucially, local communities,

could co-ordinate efforts to scale-up the

greening of urban areas.

The Development Bank of Latin

America, the Greater Paris Sanitation

Authority, the Urban Waters Hub, and

SIWI hosted the session. Presentations

highlighted practical experiences from

Brazil, Canada, Gaza, Sri Lanka, and


During the round-table discussions,

Nassia Kassela of the Global Water

Partnership, told the Waterfront Daily

about a project to include a “green wall”

at a municipal building in the Greek city

of Thessalonica. The programme, while

still only at a pilot stage, was adopted by

the local council and influenced municipal

building policy across the city and

beyond. The project was made possible

by co-ordination with local officials,

including the deputy mayor responsible

for resilience, Kassela said.

“Technical co-operation is crucial. You

need to work local, think national. You

must have the examples to replicate, but

also work towards a wider vision,” she






How to CHANGE human behaviour


questions to …

Kusum Athukorala,

NetWwater Sri Lanka

Boluwatito Awe from United Purpose says cultural aspects affect water behaviour.


Changing behavioural patterns is

likely to be one of the most costefficient

ways to achieve positive

development within the WASH

sector. It is perhaps also one of the

most difficult.

The things we do in our everyday lives are

often deeply rooted habits and changing

them is usually quite a challenge. Several

sessions yesterday touched on this whilst

exploring and showcasing the benefits of

changing human behaviour in relation to

water, sanitation and hygiene, WASH.

A common perception is that knowledge

is the key to changing a harmful behaviour,

but, as was pointed out during the session

Intelligent intervention design, that is a

view that fails to explain why people keep

smoking or eating unhealthy food, despite

knowing that it is not good for them.

Shaking hands with an unclean hand is just as

disrespectful as not shaking hands at all.

Boluwatito Awe, United Purpose

Instead, a range of factors determine our

behaviour, and identifying, assessing and

targeting these in the right way is crucial.

Done properly, behavioural change holds

an enormous potential, according to Val

Curtis from London School of Hygiene and

Tropical Medicine.

“WASH is an area where challenges are

often so overwhelming that it is difficult

to know where to start, let alone find the

resources. So, we want to find out if positive

development can be achieved purely with

behavioural change,” she said.

There are for instance fundamental

cultural aspects to be taken into consideration.

Boluwatito Awe from United Purpose

said that in many African communities, the

greeting with a handshake is an important

sign of respect, and while it is also a risk factor

in transferring diseases, it is simply not possible,

nor desirable, to change the practice.

“The challenge is to change people’s concept

of respect and make them realise that

shaking hands with an unclean hand is just

as disrespectful as not shaking hands at all,”

she says.

During the later session Can valuing

water change our attitude towards water,

the issues around human behaviour was

attacked from a slightly different angle. One

of the presenters, South African sanitation

entrepreneur Paseka Lesolang, described

how training people in poor communities

to install the company’s patented leak-free

valve has had some surprising side-effects.

“We have effectively turned people into

plumbers which is good for job creation,

but not only that, in the process they have

become aware of how much water can be

lost through a leaking toilet, and they have

learned to value water to a much larger


You first presented a

paper on gender and

water at the World Water

Week in 1996. What has

changed since then?

“There has been a lot of

progress, but now I can’t

move forward because I

don’t have gender disintegrated

data. You need this

if you want to make real

change. We have done a

lot to get women and water

on the agenda. Now the

emphasis has moved from

‘women’ to ‘women and

youth’ and they are not a

homogenous group, their

priorities are not the same.”

What is the link between

the SDGs on water and

the SDG on women?

“The SDGs are integrated

but we struggle to get an

integrated approach. We

have all compartmentalized

ourselves, we forget

the connec tion between

the goals.”

How do we get more

women leaders into the

water sector?

“You have to build capacity,

for which you need access

to education. But even if

we have that, some women

are opting out of the race

and therefore we need to

facilitate these women

by changing the system.

Make it more supportive

for women.”

What is the most

important water issue

for women in Sri Lanka?

“Access to clean drinking

water because it is related

to all the rest.”

Water scarcity hampers WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT

TEXT | Görrel Espelund PHOTO |thomas henrikson

Water is key to women’s empowerment. But it does not stop there.

Gender equality must be at the heart of the development agenda.

“Without equality, countries will not

meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda

for Sustainable Development,” said

Canisius Kanangire from AMCOW

(African Ministers’ Council on Water).

Pointing out that approximately 70 per

cent of the burden of collecting water in

Sub-Sahara falls on women and girls, a

contributing factor to girls dropping out

of school and women living in poverty.

Due to the availability of water, or the

lack thereof, women lose out on leadership


“Yet we know that when women are

participating in planning and implementing

the sustainable development

strategies, the outcome is better. And

we need to take this into account when

we design our projects,” he said.

Following Kanangire’s introduction

at Tapping into collective wisdom:

Gender sensitive development and water

ecosystems the audience heard inspiring

examples of women who made a

real difference in their communities.

Rounding off the seminar with a song.

Nandita Singh told the story of Jaya

Devi who transformed her rural community

in India, using self-helping

groups and educating them in water

conservation, rainwater harvesting and

watershed management.

“Today, some 9,000 families have

benefitted from her work. To succeed

we need to adopt a bottom-up approach

and promote women who are already

accepted by the community,” she said.

world water week voices

What are your best networking tips?

Ekatha Ann John, The

Times of India, India

“People from

all over the world

are here – this is a

platform for you to

share your experiences

from your country,

and ask about their


Louise Ulveland,

WaterAid, Sweden

“Take the first

step. Most people

do want to network,

but they don’t know

how to approach.

So be brave and

take the first step.”

Franziska Volk, GIZ,


“Be curious.

Try to ask what

organizations do

so you get a better

understanding of

what they do and

how they operate.”

Ruth Aida Kebautloile,

Lesotho Highlands

Water Commission,

South Africa

“If you want to

be on top of your

game, you need to

ensure that all your

Internet connections

and websites are wellestablished,


social media.”

Alexandra Gayle,


“Do your research:

make sure you know

which topics interest

you, check out the

speakers, make time

to be in the same room

as them, and have your

elevator pitch ready.”

Jody Raditya


Uppsala University,


“Join the

discussion, be

relaxed, say what

you do, and be

interested in what

other people do –

and stay open to the

many possibilities.”


Digital updates

Don’t forget to download the

World Water Week app, for all the

latest updates throughout the day,

and engage with us on social media.

Join the conversation on #WWWeek!

World Water Week

in Stockholm

Stockholm International

Water Institute (SIWI)





Water Institute




Box 101 87 | Visiting Address: Linnégatan 87A

SE-100 55, Stockholm, Sweden

Tel: +46 8 121 360 00 | www.siwi.org

Publisher: Torgny Holmgren

stockholm waterfront daily • 26–31 AUGUST, 2018


Editor: Maria Sköld

Graphic Designer: Marianne Engblom

Tips and comments?

Contact us at: waterfront@siwi.org


Görrel Espelund, Andeas Karlsson

and Nick Chipperfield

Photography: Thomas Henrikson

and Mikael Ullén

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