One of the objectives of the SuizAgua Andina Chile project, a public-private partnership between the Swiss Government through the SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation), and companies in Chile, is to generate new knowledge and improvements around the water footprint concept and disclose it in the Andean region and globally.
The initiative was released today at Fundación Chile with the attendance of the Swiss Foreign Minister and Vice-President, Didier Burkhalter; the Chilean Minister of Environment, María Ignacia Benítez; the Swiss Ambassador in Chile, Yvonne Baumann; and the Chairman at Fundación Chile, Álvaro Fischer.
The project was signed by the Swiss Government through its ambassador and the CEOs of company members pioneering this project, Polpaico and Clariant. The initiative will be developed and executed by Water and Environment at Fundación Chile, and contemplates the measurement and reduction of the water footprint of the members, the implementation of mitigation measures and the elaboration of Corporate Social Responsibility plans related to the use of water.
“We hope to invite more companies to become part of this initiative. It is a very important instance, since it may improve the way in which we measure the water footprint“, said Álvaro Fischer, Chairman at Fundación Chile. “We believe that the measurement of the water footprint and the introduction of new technologies is a good practice for Chilean companies“, he added.
Meanwhile, the Swiss Foreign Minister and Vice President of, Didier Burkhalter, said “water is everything; it plays a central role in every area of life“. He added “it is one of the main challenges for innovation and it is essential for the human being“.
Once the member companies measure their water footprints, in collaboration with their suppliers, they will seek innovative ways to optimize processes throughout their entire production chain and, thus, make a more efficient, sustainable and responsible use of water to generate a positive impact on surrounding communities.
Álvaro Fischer: “Innovation will be one of the most important topics to address the challenge of water“.
With more than 400 guests, the Latin American Water Week began, opening that was attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Mayol; the Minister of Public Works, Loreto Silva and the Mayor of Viña del Mar, Virginia Reginato.
“In the year 2030, one of every two people could be found in a situation of water stress; today, more than 780 million people worldwide do not have potable water and require between 2000 and 5000 liters of water to produce food for a person every day, figures that indicate the relevance of water in the world“. With these words, Álvaro Fischer, Chairman at Fundación Chile, began the conferences of the first Water Week held in Latin America -a specialized meeting that brings together about 80 exhibitors from various nationalities- that was organized by Fundación Chile and Diario Financiero newspaper and was held at the Sheraton Miramar Hotel, in Viña del Mar, from March 17 through 22.
Before the presence of the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Mayol, the Minister of Public Works, Loreto Silva, and Mayor of Viña del Mar, Virginia Reginato, Fischer noted that “water is the cornerstone of our institution, 2013 being the year of international cooperation in the area of water and year of innovation -as declared by the Government of Chile. In this sense, innovation will be one of the most relevant topics to address the challenge of water“.
Meanwhile, Roberto Sapag, Director at Diario Financiero, noted that “the issue is boiling. Society must be ready to take charge of the existing deficit and of the future challenges“.
The First WCP Summit wants to become a single platform to exchange ideas, experiences and practices around a better way to use and manage water in the countries of the region. Its purpose is to generate instances for the exchange of international experiences, where adversities and difficulties have become opportunities for innovation and the creation of collaborative networks.
Experts shall study in depththe water resource challenges for Latin America and the world, the role of science in solving water conflicts, the modernization processes of the resource, the overall impacts on water resources regarding the implementation of guidelines and the performance standards on social and environmental sustainability, as well as the OECD’s perspective on water governance, among other topics.
Gerard Payen, Chairman at the International Water Operators Association and member of the UN Council on Water and Sanitation, referred to the global objectives for water, ensuring that what is being sought is to achieve common goals for the water resource.
According to what Payen said, a goal should be achieved to improve three aspects: the universal access to the resource, drinking and sanitized water, and the management of hydro resource. “Governments should progressively grant access to water; but safe, accessible and equitable available water. Implementing this is not achieved overnight, but should be done gradually“, he said.
Meanwhile, John Briscoe, from Harvard University, referred to the challenge of water security in a changing world. As the expert explained, in water matters there are two subjects equally important: droughts and floods. In both cases it is essential to have adequate infrastructure, he said, and he referred to cases of proper handling of water in Australia and the Mississippi River.
“Water management is a dialectical process. There are challenges, and responses and new challenges and new responses. As one teacher once told me, water management is never enough, there will always be new problems“, he said.