The ever-growing world population, increased prosperity and pollution factors are contributing to the increasing challenge of water shortage globally, and particularly in South Africa, owing to the increased prosperity that the country is witnessing, said patron of the Global Water Partnership Maggie Catley-Carlson.
Speaking at the yearly South African Water and Energy Forum (Sawef) in Sandton, she said increased prosperity in South Africa had resulted in higher water use and this had created unequal water distribution among citizens.
“The water, energy, food and climate ‘mega-nexus’ model could provide solutions to the ever-growing challenges currently faced by many countries in producing ade- quate food, energy and water, and curbing emissions of countries, owing to the increasing danger of global warming and climate change,” she said.
Mining giant Anglo American South Africa executive director Godfrey Gomwe said the company’s participation at this year’s Sawef emphasised its commitment to achieving maximum economically sustainable energy, water and carbon savings in the business.
“In all our operations, we aim to use water sparingly and efficiently, reuse what we can and release only water of an acceptable quality back into the environment. This approach to water is an essential component of our aim to create real water security on a wide scale,” said Gomwe.
Catley-Carlson said that it was a challenge for governments to deal with the water scarcity and ‘mega-nexus’ issues at national level and suggested that there be a system in place where, for example, water could be made available for economic use at municipal level through a system of licences, besides others initiatives.
She explained that it took a litre of water to produce each calorie consumed on a daily basis and that the scarcity of water contributed to the rising food security concerns. “Food demand is expected to double over the next 50 years, owing to the changing diet and growing population trends.”
US Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources’ Dr Jerome Delli Priscoli said water security affected the social sta- bility of any country. “There needs to be a balance between how to allocate and reallocate water, because, when citizens get rich, they use water differently.”
He added that, globally to date, about 1.4-billion people lacked safe water.
Nedbank Group head of sustainability Brigitte Burnett said the group acknowledged both the risks and opportunities posed by climate change, as well as the interrelatedness of water, food and energy security and the impact of the dynamics on the future growth of the South African economy.
“In addition to exciting new developments for water governance in the Southern African region, the Alliance for Water Stewardship, in conjunction with the Water Stewardship Council, unveiled the International Water Stewardship Standard for the first time at Sawef 2012, following its launch at the World Water Forum, in Marseilles, in March,” she concluded.