WWWeek at home: How to make Covid recovery packages green and blue?
While the world is spending trillions of dollars on economic recovery from the Covid-19 lockdowns, the achievement of the UN 2030 Agenda, including the universal access to clean water and toilets, looks further away than ever.
Therefore several water ministers participating in multiple sessions on the first day of the Stockholm World Water Week at Home called for greening, and especially for blueing, the recovery package.
A more green and blue economy
‘Building back better’ was clearly the device on the first day of the online event. From their homes and offices around the world several water ministers delivered their speeches, pointing out how essential the availability of clean water is for proper hygiene in general, and to fight the Covid-19 pandemic with handwashing in particular.
‘The decisions made today will have a long lasting impact’, said Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute that annually organises the event. ‘We must not only rebuild society on the pandemic, but also build back a better world and invest in a sustainable future’, he remarked at the first online broadcast.
Right to water
On the first day several water ministers addressed the current situation with the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. South African minister for water, Lindiwe Sisulu, told about her country’s response to the corona-crisis. 'In South Africa there is a water shortage', she said, 'and we had to bring the water to the people to allow them to wash their hands. We bought water from neighbouring country Lesotho, we procured water trucks and drove the water to the villages’.
Sisulu made a stand for the universal right to water and said she will not rest until everyone in South Africa has access to clean water. ‘The current water distribution with the water trucks is only a short term solution. We have to make sure that in the future even the most remote regions in our country have access to water’.
Smaller water footprint
UK Minister of State (Minister for Pacific and the Environment) Lord Zac Goldsmith mentioned water in relation to climate adaptation and urged to build back better towards a smaller water footprint. ‘Too long we have been too narrow minded on the water infrastructure’, he said. ‘We do not think about where the water comes from and where polluted water goes to. We have to improve our water management and care more about our water upstream'.
Lord Goldsmith called for infrastructure that aligns more with natural processes and ‘working on a reduction of our water footprint for a prosperous future’.
Water at the heart
Dutch water minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen joined with a video message, stating that the Covid-19 crisis adds on the negative impacts of climate change. ‘We have to improve the resilience of our water systems through wise, future-proof investments’, she said. ‘Water is at the heart of the recovery effort’.
To help trigger systemic change, she announced the launch of the Water Action Track (WAT) by the Global Commission on Adaptation during the online high-level conference on climate adaptation on 25 January 2021.
See the full programme on the website of World Water Week. The sessions are organised by different institutions and all use different procedures, so be sure to check beforehand if you need to register to join a session.