Nairobi, Kenya – Last month the entry of Mahesh Kumar Aungnoo (left on the picture), from Mauritius, was selected as the 2 winning entries of the Water4Islands Photo Contest organised in 6 Small Islands States (Cabo Verde, Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and Sao Tome and Principe) to celebrate World Water Day 2017. The winner attended the Stockholm World Water Week from 27 August to 01 September 2017. We gathered his thoughts about the entire experience below.
What did you learn about water at the world water week?
Water is a natural resource but also basic human right. The distribution of water worldwide is unbalanced, so is the availability of advanced and affordable technology that can be used to treat waste water. Every year, World Water Week addresses a particular theme to enable a deeper examination of a specific water-related issue. This year`s theme is Water and Waste : Reduce and Reuse. “Water is scarce resource, not to be taken for granted. Our patterns must change and we needto become aware of how we can produce and consume more sustainably.
All countries are expected to translate and adapt the SDG targets to the national level and develop and implement appropriate policies to achieve them. Doing so for targets 6.2, 6.3 and 12.5 are particularly important for water, faecal sludge and waste management, including recognition of policy initiatives to promote a circular economy as an important driver to achieve these targets. Focus will include policies in sectors that need review and revision in order to facilitate the promotion of sustainable wastewater management, including pollution reduction, cleaner production, treatment and re-use, as well as economic and social incentives to promote the sustainable development of wastewater management from sewered and onsite sanitation systems Water pollution prevention policies, including both command-and-control and market based instruments, will be important to consider. Up-scaling of wastewater-based agriculture from small-scale, informal efforts, to a level of larger formal enterprises is another area of potential policy review, as is promotion of private investment, performance standards and safeguards to contribute to water, wastewater and industrial water management.
Achieving water security for all is an important element in achieving the 2030 Agenda, and one which holds an important economic potential. The economics of water security relies strongly on wise water and wastewater management, and depend among other things on proper valuation, costing, pricing and financing of water and waste management. Other critical elements to be addressed are economic incentives and innovative financing and investment models, greening wastewater ‘from waste to wealth’, as well as promotion of sustainable wastewater management through investment policies of donor agencies, development banks and climate funds.
What were the highlights of the week?
One of the highlight was a session on water pollution problems, in particular with chemicals from the drug industry. Increasing resistance to antibiotics is a grave threat to human health and sustainable development across the world. Already, 700,000 people die each year from drug-resistant infections and, unless we manage to contain the problem, projections suggest the number could rise to 10 million deaths annually by 2050. In such a scenario antimicrobial resistance would become the largest cause of death globally, undermining many medical advances and costing the world an estimated 100 trillion USD.
Uncontrolled production and excessive use of antibiotics have significantly promoted the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which has evolved into a global health risk during the past decades.
The problem is now on the agenda from the grassroots level to a UN high level meeting and an industry roadmap. More restrictive and targeted use in human and veterinary medicine, advanced wastewater-treatment as well as the development of new groups of antibiotics are key priorities, while the supply chain with industrial wastewater being a key pathway of pharmaceuticals to the environment, is only slowly gaining attention.
Antibiotics represent in many ways also other pharmaceuticals as environmental pollutants and their emission pathways, including the market being both intransparent and strictly regulated, which can hinder quick improvements. Those most affected and exposed to the risks, land workers and people living in global production hotspots, are rarely heard in this context.
3. Is there anything you learned that you can take back to your country?
I have learnt many interesting things during the week, and of course I would like to share some of the issues that could be applied to my country such as:
- Youth represents more than 50% of the world`s population and is more exposed that other aged groups to poor conditions of living regarding, in particular water and food in security, health, employment, disaster risks.
- Recognise the role of youth in innovating and creating new ways of producing essential goods and services and new business models likely to address their challenges in a constantly evolving environment.
- Acknowledge that increasing the contribution and benefits of youth in the development and climate agendas is the major challenge for public policies.
- Water and agriculture, water and health, water scarcity, and water related risks, reflect key challenges where youth want to and can contribute to address the challenges posed by climate to their lives and sustainable development.
- There are also the concept of the Eco game that can act as a tool towards the sensitization of the younger generation who are the future. The games can be played at the following link : https://ecoactiongames.org.uk/
- Water youth network connects active youth groups in the water sector across disciplines, boundaries and with other generations WYN creates continuity between the existing youth initiatives in the water sector- which includes political, economic, social, legal and environmental domains. The WYN manages existing knowledge while helping to push the edge innovation, for example, the creation of an online platform where knowledge and innovation can be shared. Thus I can make the youth more aware of it, and join them to participate in water projects.
4. Did you encounter any challenges?
One of the main challenge is the use of jargons by specialists in their respective domains. I could not always understand what they meant and hence could not fully exploit my attendance at the conference. I have an Art and Graphic design background.
Another difficulty I encountered was not being able to see the different projects exhibited by the finalists of the SIWI Stockholm Water Prize. I was really interested in seeing these and was not able to attend the award ceremony as it was already fully booked.