Assaad Saadeh, the Regional Water Resources Manager at Nestlé Waters talked to waterHQ about the latest innovations in the water industry. It is a fact: water resources are already unevenly distributed across the planet, and this constitutes one of the major challenges of the 21st century. According to the United Nations, 40 percent of the global population is affected by water scarcity. The independent Water Resources Group consisting of leading manufacturers and financial institutions stated that projected population and economic growth will lead to water demand that is 40 percent above current supply by 2030.
When water scarcity is a concern for humanity as whole, actors from the public and private sectors should be looking at innovative ways to best manage, use, distribute and supply water resources. Amidst this reality, innovations in both technology and general approach to water use are emerging. Agriculture and Manufacturing, whatever the industry, traditionally require high amounts of water. For example, it requires 1,700 Liters of water to produce one chocolate bar, and 2,000 Liters to produce one pizza. Increasing the efficiency of water use helps farmers and manufacturers to save costs, which allows environment-geared operational changes to be of value to businesses and societies as well. Investing in zero water factories for example can help avoid potential costly relocations. Protecting water resources helps protect the future.
Spearheading these calls to action is the Alliance for Water Stewardship, formed in 2008 to encourage better management of water resources in the watershed and increase collaboration between various stakeholders. More awareness is also being generated that water is a shared resource, which can only be preserved if stakeholders work together. A clear illustration of that fact would be a glass of water, representing the shared aquifer, with numerous straws extending from it, representing the various water wells pumping from the shared aquifer, each representing a sipper. In order for everyone to get their needs from the limited supply in the glass, and guarantee there’s enough to fill it up again as it empties, collaboration between all those sipping is clearly required. The same concept is increasingly being applied to water basins and other natural sources, so that water use is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial – creating shared value for everyone.
A prime regional example of collaboration between stakeholders for water conservation in the watershed is between Lebanon’s Shouf Biosphere Reserve and Nestlé Waters on a water resources study for the basin as part of a water stewardship initiative. The result of the study highlighted the need to better manage water resources to avoid droughts caused by significant seasonal fluctuations in surface water flows. To tackle this issue, a steering committee was developed with representatives from the ministries of Water & Energy, municipalities, representatives of local agriculture cooperatives, local water authorities, concerned NGOs, the private sector, women groups, and others to devise and implement an action plan to promote water access and conservation.
When technology and better practices are essential to organic growth in a society, the power of collaborative efforts of different stakeholders seems to be a key element for a sustainable future. This approach applies everywhere, and it is particularly true within the water domain.
Regional Water Resources Manager