A Tipping Point for Water

As a sector in world affairs, water is reaching a tipping point. Over the next two decades, the global push for food and energy security and for sustaining urbanization will place unprecedented demands on water.

Ours is a “thirsty” world, in which agriculture and energy compete with the needs of cities. At the same time, climate change may worsen the situation by increasing water stress and extreme-weather events. Hence, the water and climate nexus can no longer be a side event at global-climate talks. All of this is happening while the important push for universal access to water and sanitation services — despite the impressive gains over the past several decades — remains an unfinished agenda.

The Sustainable Development Goal on water recognizes its unique and interconnected nature, with one overarching goal for water bringing together formerly disparate approaches. It states, “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”The challenge for all nations is implementation.

Three important issues define this challenge.

First, building and fixing pipes isn’t enough. Efforts must concentrate on fixing the institutions that fix the pipes and their governance structures in order to make universal and sustainable access to water and sanitation services a reality. This also means factoring behavioral insight into infrastructure-related policies and programs.

Vietnam has provided access to clean water to 1.3 million people in 4 provinces in the Red River Delta, including 100 percent of the poor people living there, by better understanding and empowering communities themselves. The water supply was established under innovative enterprises, with proper management and operation capacity, communities held a 10 percent stake in the enterprises, which ensured a strong sense of community ownership and commitment, as well as deep community involvement in the planning, supervision, construction, operation and maintenance.

Further, through a revolving fund managed by the —> Read More