It was navigating through the Amazon River, one of the main river basins in the country, that representatives of the civil society and private sector discussed water security and challenges of how climate changes can affect the population. This last for three days, between June 29thand July 1st, in view of a challenging scenario: if nothing is done, two out of three people will not have access to water by 2030. Held while navigating between Manaus and Parintins, in Amazonas, the Global Water Summit aims at contributing to the agenda of the 8th World Water Forum, to be held in March 2018, in Brasília.
The Letter of Parintins will address a series of demands and suggestions, such as the need for a dialogue focused on actions, without individual protagonism, but a collective one, with integrated thinking between sectors. The event was organized by Coca-Cola Brasil in partnership with the Sustainability Focus Group of the 8th World Water Forum, under the leadership of the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) and WWF Global.
The panels gathered representatives of several Brazilian and international institutions that work in the water sector, bringing the private sector and the civil society closer. The discussions were based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially SDG-6, which specifically addresses water and sanitation for all.
Evaluation of organizers
“It was very inspiring to hear all the discussions we had these three days. We know it is through dialogue we can improve our strategies. This has been part of Coca-Cola Brasil. Our role, as leaders in the sector, is to start listening and calling for the industry and other partners. We are convinced it is the role of companies to act beyond laws and regulatory milestones”, stated Henrique Braun, Coca-Cola Brasil’s president.
“We want to make water a high priority, take it to the level of discussions on climate changes. We always have to search for new ways and solutions that help us build awareness, engage and mobilize society, governments and companies for this agenda. Water is essential and without it we have nothing in this world. The Forum in Brazil will be an opportunity to gather various stakeholders from different levels. Our challenge is to promote this unified agenda, with converging goals in favor of everyone”, stated Karen Krchnak, director of the World Wide Fund for Nature and World Water Council member.
“The partnership between Coca-Cola Brasil and CEBDS for the Global Water Summit was innovative and very important for the World Water Forum agenda. During these three days, we had the opportunity to discuss and debate relevant and essential themes for developing this agenda. We gathered representatives of the private sector and civil society for a free dialogue. We could live this in an environment favorable for discussion and reflection. In the end, we reached a consensus and indicated roads. Brazil is very relevant when it comes to water, but we need to start acting”, emphasized Marina Grossi, CEBDS’ president.
“Water is a priority theme for the sustainability of our business and for the planet. Without water, there is no life and no business. Throughout our history and our relationship with water resources, we have managed to improve our strategy and develop our role based on dialogues with the civil society. We are now going beyond, enabling access to drinking water for communities through our platformÁgua+Acesso [Water+Access]. The dialogue with the civil society has always been an inflection point on this road. The Global Water Summit is one more step forward. We want to use the Forum to speed up the agenda”, explained Pedro Massa, Shared Value Director at Coca-Cola Brasil.
Global Water Summit panels
The first panel debated “Water for all – ensuring security and biodiversity”. Alan Bojac, from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), when speaking about water resource efficiency and the need for innovative solutions for food production, reminded that agriculture uses 70% of water today. “We need more creativity in irrigation systems, for instance. Israel has examples of good practices”, he stated.
Telma Rocha, from Fundação Avina, brought the discussion to focus on people. “The work foundation are processes that involve people, whether through access or public policies. Who has access today has no guarantee they will have access tomorrow. Information is essential in this journey”, she ensured. Pedro Massa, from Coca-Cola Brasil, enhanced the company’s experience and, based on the dialogue, he understood they needed to go beyond walls. “We have changed the way we face the water theme and has embraced the dialogue, which made us develop a lot the way we address this theme and to be where we are today. Our evolution is of the private sector in general – not only for our products, but also for the ingredients we buy for production. Water is essential for our business”, he stated.
To Samuel Barreto, representative of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the main challenge is the climate issue. “We need to reassess our work relations already in our generation to manage to deal with climate issues. We need to develop new abilities and this requires fast solutions. The outlook for the impacts is 15 years. If we can’t stabilize the climate, we can compromise other efforts”, he warned. Barreto also proposed the creation of a summit within the United Nations to address water and discuss commitments to monitor this theme and to result in effective actions. The idea was embraced by all participants.
How to insert the water theme into the agenda of governments and private sector beyond the creation of a legacy was the core discussion in panel “Water forever – building the future”. Tatiana Fedotova, water director at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), reminded there is no more time for new discussions. She also emphasized the importance of communication and the improvement in information transparency and language. “Water professionals lack unicity, which is a challenge for commitments. This is not about reinventing something new, but optimizing all entities working with the theme”, she pointed out.
One of the challenges is the efficient water use in agricultural production, as emphasized Rafael Pizzi, director of Start Up Agrosmart. He presented a case that uses data to help rural producers make decisions and improve their irrigation practices, preventing water waste. “The best irrigation practices are unknown, including by some big producers. We do not have much investment in irrigation technology in Brazil. This is a challenge that needs to be overcome”, he said. Hugo Flores, representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Perpétuo Cajazeiras, representative of the Northeastern Bank (BNB), presented policies of investments in water projects.
At the end of the meeting, Marina Grossi, from CEBDS, led the discussion round with Karina Krchnak, from WWF, and Marússia Whately, from the Alliance for Water. They spoke about the expectations, results, inclusion and participation of the society in the World Water Forum, in addition to impacts, strategies, evolution and next steps. “There is no consensus between different actors that work in the water agenda. We know this agenda is wide and perhaps it would be more interesting to choose one focus to do a more assertive, monitored work to obtain results”, suggested Marina. “We have to think of how we can give continuity to what will be discussed at the Forum, especially the governance issue, involving companies and governments. We are going to propose a letter of commitments from companies in order to reach a new level. We need to make this a more virtuous movement”.
Marússia reminded that the water theme has gained a new dimension and has become emergent over the last 20 years. “The water crisis has left the category of an environmental issue and has become a global challenge to society. The management gap in Brazil is huge to deal with issues like scarcity. Governance is very complex and involves several governmental levels and various institutions, which hinders the understanding of who effectively takes care of water”, she pointed out.
To Karin Krchnak, the Forum is an opportunity to engage companies. “We have a series of challenges to the Forum, such as documenting and sharing solutions that have been proposed or that will be presented. I see the importance of engaging everyone with collective and regional actions. This is a big moment to reach out to companies and seek practical and concrete actions. This is the case of Coca-Cola Brasil, which has been a reference in the water agenda and can share their results. Perhaps companies can help finance greater participation of society?”, suggested the World Water Council member.