Valuing Water Inititative: Journey Overview
The Valuing Water Initiative (VWI) Journeys demonstrate practical applications of the valuing water principles to policy, business practices and behaviour across contexts, sectors, organizations and companies.
VWI is working with the sustainability non-profit organisation Ceres to catalyse influential capital market leaders to address the financial risks of the water crisis, and call on companies to take action. As part of this effort, the Valuing Water Finance Task Force, made up of some of the largest pension funds and banks has been convened to help drive corporate action on water-related financial risks. Along with members of the Task Force, and other members of the scientific, investment and corporate community, we plan to develop a set of clear expectations for companies in key sectors to take in order to improve water stewardship. With this we will demonstrate how addressing water security builds resilience in investment portfolios and systemically change how financiers contribute to this sector.
Manos al Agua is considered the largest water-related intervention ever in the coffee sector. Alongside the Government of the Netherlands, the public-private partnership for this project brought together the Government of Colombia, National Federation of Colombian coffee growers, Nestlé, Wageningen University & Research, Solidaridad and the National Centre for Coffee Research in Colombia (website in Spanish). Manos al Agua aimed to improve water management (both lowering water use and pollution) among coffee farmers by information and sensitization campaigns, training, hardware investments, and an improved institutional environment. As a knowledge project, Manos al Agua raised awareness among stakeholders around valuing water and will serve as one of the leading showcases under the VWI Leadership by Example pillar. In particular, the showcase will help us learn how the results of this and other interventions might have been made more sustainable and long-lasting.
In Zambia VWI is working with the World Wide Fund for Nature to develop a journey focused on more sustainable management of water resources in the Kafue Flats River Basin. The Kafue Flats are a critical resource for Zambia, providing most of the capital city Lusaka’s drinking water supply as well as supporting employment, industry, agriculture, tourism and biodiversity. Three years of severe drought, coupled with economic and population growth in the basin, is putting an intolerable strain on the Kafue Flats as a wide range of stakeholders depend on increasingly fragile water resources. Guided by the Valuing Water Principles, VWI and WWF are developing an inclusive stakeholder process which builds on the decades of efforts being put in by our partner and other organizations to bring systemic change in water-impacting decisions being made by governments, corporates, financiers and other key actors in the region.
The Valuing Water Journey in Peru is focused on the basin of Chancay-Lambayeqe in the country’s North West. The coastal plain of Peru is home to more than half of the nation’s population but contains just 1.8% of the its water resources. A combination of population growth, rising incomes and expansion of irrigated agriculture is leading to a rapid increase in water demand throughout the coastal zone. VWI is working with the Peruvian National Water Authority (website in Spanish) and Deltares to take a systemic approach towards solving these challenges, moving beyond tariff-driven policy tools to a more comprehensive and inclusive basin management framework that takes into account the needs of all stakeholders.
India: Nature-based Solutions
The City of 1,000 Tanks project aims to find a holistic solution to the problems of floods, water scarcity and pollution in Chennai and aims to identify the interrelationships between their underlying causes. The project will develop a Water Balance Model across the city by collecting rainwater, treating wastewater and runoff pollution through Nature-Based Solutions, and by recharging both to the underground aquifer. This will prevent climate-change-induced droughts by increasing groundwater reserves and prevent saline intrusion from sea-level rise. It will also mitigate risks associated with high-frequency floods as well as sewage pollution. The project forms a key part of the Water as Leverage programme and is in its early stages as a VWI journey. The plan for VWI is to see what levers of change can bring nature-based solutions to scale and create a value proposition which appeals to key actors including governments and financiers.
Ethiopia’s fast growing economy and population, accompanied by rapid urbanisation, are putting water resources in the country under unprecedented pressure. VWI is developing a journey in Ethiopia with the International Water Management Institute focused on the Central Rift Valley Basin, an area of major importance to the flower industry, as well as the broader Ethiopian economy. The Basin faces a looming water crisis triggered by growing economic, social and environmental demands for a dwindling resource. Together with the International Water Management Institute, VWI is seeking to leverage the efforts of existing actors and partners to bring about systemic change in how water is valued in decision-making in this critical region.
Netherlands: Room for the River
To cope with high water levels and reduce the risk of flooding, the Government of the Netherlands is taking measures to increase the capacity of rivers at 30 locations around the country – a two-phase programme known as Room for the River. The risk of flooding in the Netherlands is steadily growing since the flood plains of rivers are shrinking, a problem made worse by heavier and more frequent rainfall. This process involves relocating dykes further inland and constructing high-water channels. In some locations, floodplains are also being lowered. These areas will then be inundated during periods of high water levels, thus temporarily giving the river more room and easing pressure on the dykes. Through the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water, VWI aims to leverage the lessons learned from Phase 1 to see how to develop a future for the Netherlands where nature can continue to play a big role in adaptation solutions.
The city of Dordrecht is an island, located in a transition area between the sea and major rivers. As such it is extremely vulnerable to flooding and faces a major challenge from rising sea levels induced by climate change. The city has developed an evacuation area in De Staart to function as a safe haven for residents in the event of flooding, using water safety as leverage for sustainable development and enhancing the resilience and social coherence of and within the city of Dordrecht. VWI is working with the Dordrecht authorities to develop the city’s unique Staart/ARK initiative into a journey which can yield lessons for others faced by similar challenges. This journey explores the shift in approach from prevention to evacuation, and the change in mindset necessary to bring key actors on board for a scenario which may seem statistically improbable but which is increasing in likelihood as climate challenges become more severe.