Monday, January 21, 2008

World Economic Forum and Water

The World Economic Forum's Chairman Klaus Schwab and the Nestlé Group's CEO got the Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland off to a good start by co-authoring A World United on Water.

The authors ask the right, inter-related questions about water (if completely ignoring the sanitation challenge and its impact on human health and the environment), and give readers their hopeful and I think realistic answer:
"But it is not a catastrophe yet. It lies within our collective grasp to find the solutions. Business can improve its water efficiency, and in many cases it has raised the bar. There are many success stories. But it will take everyone in the water basin working together to change the overall game. This is what makes the challenge complicated. We are ahead of the curve for now. Addressed smartly, innovatively and with new forms of collaboration between government, business and industry, we believe the coming crisis can be averted."

I think I'll write a book on the world's water issue called "It Takes a Basin." Peter Brabeck is as pro-business as it gets as you might imagine - check out the last bit of his wikipedia entry (no citation given, so take with a grain of salt), and he is right to include the self-interests and responsibilities of business into the mix. He is also right to assert that all water is local. If all water stakeholders in an individual water basin can't work together to come to a reasonable settlement to the issue, the settlement will not be sustainable.

I am constantly harping on the solvability of the world's water challenge, if we actually make the commitments necessary to come to that solution. Carl Ganter quotes Peter Gleick in his post at The Huffington Post: "We know how," he says. "It's just not clear that we're going to make the commitment." Carl is looking for commitments at Davos this year, and so am I.

So call your CEO, ask him/her to attend the water events at Davos this year, and report back.

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