Our theme for the Global Water Summit 2016 is: Water 2050. We’re asking you to imagine how the world of water will look for the next generation.
Last year, the IPCC published its fifth assessment on climate change[i] since 1990 and it was not a pretty picture. The effects of climate change are already hitting us through the water cycle. From our point of view at GWI, this means that, if we have any hope of adapting to these changes, it will have to involve a profound turn around in how we manage our water resources.
Climate change is water change.
But if we’re going to turn around water management, we have to start by turning around the value we put on water.
We aren’t talking strictly about water conservation here. Water is embedded into the supply chain of just about any industry you can name; and the security of our water supplies drives economic development and growth. Impacts on water go straight to our GDPs.
So there’s no getting away from it: putting a value on water means giving it a realistic price.
We haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Even while the world has been trying to put a price on carbon, we struggle with the idea of seeing the benefit of valuing and pricing water.
In a press briefing on climate change[ii] at last month’s Stockholm Water Week, Junaid Ahmad (World Bank Group) said that the pricing of water is probably one of the most powerful mechanisms of ensuring that water is available in the right quantity at the right time, not only for cities, not only for the energy sector and agriculture, but also to fulfill the promise of universal access.
Dr. Ahmad pointed out that water without a price, more often than not, means the poor get left out and are forced to take water from the informal sector or, worse, unsafe sources. In the context of climate change, not only do we need to value water, we absolutely need to look at what it means to price water.
For our Water 2050 Global Water Summit 2016 in Abu Dhabi next April we will be bringing together a distinct community: the people who lead the businesses that supply and that use water and the stakeholders whose decisions influence the way those businesses are run.
Utility leaders, government ministers, CEOs of corporations and their customers need to come to terms with this basic fact of life: that the state of water in 2050 is going to depend on the value we put on water now.
That’s what we’ll be doing at the Global Water Summit 2016 on 19-20 April at the Jumeirah Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.
[i] Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptations and Vulnerability;; IPCC March 2014; http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/
[ii] Water, Development and Climate Change: A New Agenda; World Bank, SIWI and World Water Council (www.worldwaterweek.org/presentations/#pressevents).