On 27 August 2020 the World Water Week at home has successfully come to an end with the Swiss Water Partnership co-hosting three sessions: “Switzerland: Blessing or Curse for Water in the World?, “Water Data Scarcity – overcoming gaps for decision-making towards climate resilience” and “Solving the Water-Climate-Puzzle by connecting youth stories and decision-makers“. All sessions with a total of 19 conveners attracted around 200 attendees from 28 different countries. By clicking on the title you can watch the recording of the session.
Sustainable water use in the face of increasing climate risks is the responsibility of all stakeholders linked through global supply chains. In this session, Swiss water sector players shared their experiences and viewpoints on Switzerland’s key role in water stewardship around the globe from four angles, actively engaging participants.
Switzerland is often portrayed as one of the leaders in responsible water management and WASH innovation. While certainly contributing to improved water management and governance around the globe, it has at the same time a significant water footprint: A remarkable 82% results from imported goods and services, often from water-scarce regions affected by climate change. The influence of the tiny alpine nation reaches far beyond its borders, not only due to multinational corporations with seats in Switzerland but also as the world’s biggest offshore banking and financial marketplace, and as seat of 65 of the world’s largest shipping companies controlling 22% of the global maritime trade.
The session demonstrated four angles of Switzerland’s role in responsible water use and stewardship in relation to climate resilience around the globe:
- Experience with the use of innovative technology for measuring water use for climate-resilient agriculture at local level.
- Cases of Swiss international development support to small-scale producers to optimize climate-smart water use in agricultural value chains.
- Progress and challenges on Swiss policy on virtual water trade.
- Ways forward to reduce the water and carbon footprint through consumption decisions of Swiss consumers and retailers.
The key messages of the session were:
- Swiss actors and their partners are actively contributing solutions to SDG 6.4 on water.
- It is not only about optimising water use. Often the use of inputs and other resources can be optimised, for greater local incomes and environmental sustainability. These multiple dimensions of water use need to be increasingly considered.
- Stakeholders, linked through global supply chains, have different roles and responsibilities in sustainable water and resource use, through their decisions.
Water data scarcity highly impacts decision-making in water resource policy and management. This session provides insights into current developments and cost-effective solutions to overcome water data scarcity for making informed decisions towards climate resilience. It enables the participants to learn and share their best practices in addressing water data gaps.
When water policy is not based on facts, it becomes jeopardized by individual aims and biases, losing sight of clear goals in view of society’s benefit. Water data scarcity is therefore a major cause for reduced effectivity of water policies as well as for the incapability of communities to take informed decisions towards climate-resilient water management.
Relevant data on water resources and its policies must be reliably collected, trustworthy managed, and comprehensively presented to decision-makers. Trust can only evolve, if the data acquisition, aggregation and transfer to policy-making is handled transparently and conclusions are reproducible.
Progress in recent technology has opened new opportunities for collecting, aggregating, storing as well as communicating data. Nowadays beneficiaries can be involved easily and thus can develop ownership. At the same time, the validation of data can become more challenging.
The key messages of the session were:
- Reliable, open data is needed and it has to be defined which institution is in charge.
- With low-cost data collection with inclusion of the local communities we can increase awareness and get more reliable data.
- For policy reforms concerning climate change, long-time series need to be collected, starting now to see trends and to know where we are heading to.
This session explored ways to solve and make connections that build into the Water-Climate-Puzzle by using youth stories as a dynamic narrative and to connect them with decision-makers to bridge the gap between science, policy and generations.
The impacts of climate change manifests itself most visibly through water and the future generations are at risk! Showcasing real stories from across the globe, we opened a dialogue with decision-makers on how policies affect the life of young people and how young leaders provide concrete, tangible answers to climate and water challenges and aim to influence decision-making. The session tried to answer the following question: How can policy makers effectively incorporate insights and lessons from youth-led initiatives in the water-climate nexus? The format of the webinar was dedicated breakout sessions allowing deepdive discussions on research, advocacy and from the field, bringing together young leaders and decision makers. The session was cartoon live and streamed online.
The key messages of this session were:
More than mere beneficiaries, youth are central actors and stakeholders in the achievement of the sustainable development goals related to the water and climate nexus. Worldwide, young women and men are proposing and implementing concrete solutions in the fields of research, advocacy and on the field. To be successful the youth needs to be perseverant. “Dare to be bold! Make sure you are heard! Please realise your knowledge is at the forefront of what is available in the sector, please share it. Don’t be discouraged by the slowness of the sector to embrace new things!” said Mr Pim van der Male. If young leaders have the responsibility to be Strong-willed, they should not have to handle the burden of changing water policy-making on their own. We have a common responsibility. The importance of dialogue is thus reaffirmed. In order for young people and decision-makers to work together, we must multiply the spaces for dialogue and the development of a common vision.