Responsible use of water and conflict management

Water use has tripled over the last 50 years, a trend that will continue as the world’s population increases.

Session partner:

The vast majority – over 70% – of the water is used in agriculture to produce food, fibres, fuel and other plant products. Climate change will increase water shortage problems in many areas of the world. More than 900 million people lack access to clean water, and a further two billion people lack access to decent sanitation facilities. Water scarcity makes people suffer and can contribute to increasing social problems that may develop into greater political conflict and might even lead to military struggles.
© Thomas Schaal/

There is little doubt that the responsible use of water is essential for survival on this planet. This makes it very surprising that this precious resource is still not being used efficiently. Neither agriculture nor other industries use up-to-date technologies. The water footprint of many traded goods – coffee, cocoa, oil seeds, cotton etc. – remains far too high. Thankfully, some changes are happening. Many CEOs world-wide consider water scarcity as a more and more important business risk. And, above all, larger corporations have started to introduce water accounting systems that monitor water usage more efficiently and minimize wastewater discharge (as well as recycling nutrients and heat from the wastewater). Companies can capitalize on new technologies that support the efficient use of water, such as for water purification (from large industrial plants to site adopted small technologies), water saving concepts, water treatment etc.

Engaging with communities to manage the local water resources in a more sustainable way and co-ordinating activities with all stakeholders is an important step in taking responsibility together and to achieve water security. In particular, payments for the ecosystem service “water” can be a good way to finance water security.

Ruth Vollmer
Bonn International Center for
Conversion (BICC) GmbH

Setting the scene:
Udo Gattenlöhner
Global Nature Fund

Roland Konietz, AWAS International GmbH

Ulf Leonhard, Watervent

Danièle Perrot-Maître
Environmental and Resource Economist
(Evian Case)

Walter Liebe
Pictet Asset Management

Vu Thi Minh
National Economics University

Session tasks:    
  1. To discuss solutions that help countries/regions deal with increasing water scarcity (and resulting political conflicts), and to find ways to develop integrated water resource management systems.
  2. To develop financial strategies for water resource management systems, and to discuss investments that would support related infrastructures and R&D.
  3. To devise measures for the reduction of the water footprint in the global trade system (including the production and processing of products).
  4. To collect suggestions on how community-based watershed programmes, in which water users pay for ecosystem services, can be initiated.
  5. To identify the legal parameters that have an impact on the sustainable use and management of water resources.
Background information:
  1. 2012 UN-Water Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resources Management,
  2. PWC: The true value of water - Best practices for managing water risks and opportunities,
  3. WaterVent: The first matchmaking platform designed to bring water technology entrepreneurs and investors in the water sector together,
  4. AWAS - Industrielle Abwassertechnik zur Abwasserreinigung und -behandlung,

in cooperation with:
WWF Deutschland
Rewe Group
Soil and More
UTZ certified
Rainforest Alliance
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