By Fraser MacLeod, GWP Head of Global Projects:
This is the title of a new report that I came across, and to me it crystalizes what I believe is one of the biggest challenges humanity faces in the coming decades: how do we turn problems into solutions, how do we make lower water use the path of greatest economic return?
So, you may ask: what does the report tell us about this journey? Perhaps inevitably, the report is essentially silent about the journey. Rather, it provides another snapshot of how Global 500 Companies view water. The essence is that risks are growing, awareness is increasing, and leadership is needed – tell me something that I don’t know!
We all know that water is invariably not at the table when the big decisions are taken about the wider political economy – education, housing, jobs, taxation, etc. Yet, we also know that these big decisions have consequences for water management. And the corollary is that every water management decision has implications for the wider political economy. How can we bridge this gap?
I believe one of the simplest things the water sector needs to do is to stop talking about water. We need to engage with decision makers on their terms, we need to understand what drives them, and we need to be able to articulate the reasonably foreseeable impacts of their decisions on water (and vice versa). If we can do this with authority and credibility then we will earn respect and trust, from which comes influence.
When I say ‘authority’ I do not mean demonstrating power or leadership – I mean the confidence one gains from personal experience, or the ability to influence others because of one’s commanding manner, or being a trusted source of reliable information and evidence. This form of authority results in a very different conversation, one I do not think we are prepared for.
What do you think?
For those interested in the report, it’s here: From water risk to value creation