2 Apr 2012

Strong impressions from the WWF

A few more thoughts...
  1. Associations devoted to sustainable use of water by businesses continue to avoid the elephant in the room: corruption that puts their operations in foreign countries at risk. I was hopeful that the Alliance for Water Stewardship was going to take on this problem. In their session, they proposed an evaluation of sustainable water use at member locations AS WELL AS use in the area (to get an idea of site impact vs total impact in the area), but AWS does not appear to be taking this brave step. Instead, they will wait to hear what the "community of stakeholders" (everyone it seems) has to say. That may be a disappointing wait.

  2. The "governance" crowd, likewise, is not grasping a very important requirement for local or national water management, i.e., the need to bring agricultural water users to the table -- by force or persuasion. On the OECD panel on governance [1 hr 53 min 40MB MP3], I asked (at 1:27:20) how they were going to involve farmers. The response -- it seems -- would be by promoting transparency. I'm not sure how that's going to do any thing, as farmers are quite content to pursue business as usual -- perhaps assuming that they will get extra water or money when they overuse what they now have. You can also listen to another high level panel on governance that was more wishy-washy [1 hr 57 min 40MB MP3] during which I sometimes held the recorder to my headset to get the translated English.

  3. I was curious to see that a young group of French performers were very skilled at playing "corrupt manager awarding water concessions to the sexy lobbyist" game. Even more so -- mostly from Francophone Africa -- was able to participate with their own variations on corruption and how to tackle it.

  4. I agree with Aquadoc:
    The WWC does not make much of an attempt to engage in a retrospective examination of previous fora to determine whether the items discussed, the commitments made, the solutions proposed, etc. have had any effect. So as far as I can determine no one really knows whether the previous fora have done any good - other than providing a huge networking/showcasing opportunity. That's not good.
  5. The World Bank appears to be gearing up to waste vast amounts of money, ruin the environment and weaken water management -- this is NOT an April Fools joke! I'll post on that depressing development in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Hi, David

Leaving aside the comment re. the World Bank (well the project I now work on is WB funded.... www.eisourcebook.org) I have to agree with the implication behind your comments and those of Aquadoc: the WWF is little more than a huge trade fair for the water sector. The ministerial statement is irrelevant and bears little relation to the actual discussions at the Forum. There is little focus on seeing whether previous targets have now been achieved as this is not the point of the Forum (i.e. to do business, and to network). This is the clear feedback that I got from Dundee UNESCO Water Centre (www.dundee.ac.uk/water - where I worked until last September) colleagues who attended the Forum this year and have attended it in the past.

Interestingly the feedback was also that it was useful to attend - for the networking and to catch up with people! But nothing to do with "Time for Solutions", the official strapline this year, and one that implies that previous Forums were not solution-focussed.

I note also that the amount of media coverage for the WWF = close to zero, well in the UK anyway. This is consistent with it being a trade fair and not a serious policy crucible. Also consistent with the above is the huge number of attendees, far too many to meaningfully included in serious negotiations, crowdsourcing techniques not withstanding.... (& I don't think any were tried?).

Kind regards


Anonymous said...

I agreed with Aguadoc as well.
Now you mention it, I have not heard much (nothing, in fact) about transparency and corruption during the Forum.
Farmers generally are not fond of tables that are associated with discussions. If you are running a farm for 12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, you do not really anticipate taking a day off to go to the city and have a coffee with guys that wear blazers and look on their iPhone all the time while you talk with them.

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