"Equitable, optimal and sustainable management of water resources demands an integrated approach, coordinated action and the sharing of responsibilities by the various tiers of government," says Benedito Braga. He is a Brazilian professor of civil and environmental engineering and President of the World Water Council, an international multi-stakeholder platform that counts the UN, the World Bank and the African Development Bank among its more than 300 members.
According to Prof. Braga, a new and consistent approach is the key to meeting local and regional water demand and to assuring the implementation of measures that enable us to mitigate and adapt to global changes.
"Water security should be made an even higher national and international policy priority, based on the principle that water resources must be allocated in a reasonable and equitable manner. Furthermore, local and regional planning and design need to be much more water-sensitive," says Benedito Braga.
Smart water and more collaboration
Kai Vakkila heads the water management unit at Ramboll Finland and has more than 20 years’ experience from working on water-related projects. He agrees that a better-integrated approach to water management is needed – both at the various government levels and in the services and solutions provided by companies like Ramboll.
"Water management is an extremely complex concept that can’t be reduced to a single service or solution. Most societies need to map and measure their water resources, streamline their utilities and purifying plants, reduce wastewater and take initiatives to save as much water as possible – while also taking the necessary steps to avert the overly adverse impacts of climate change," says Kai Vakkila.
"In many cases, all or many of these activities are interrelated and call for sophisticated overall planning that take socioeconomic, environmental and technical factors into account."
Kai Vakkila believes that more open processes between public organisations like utilities, private consultancies and academia offer one way of responding to these interlinked, highly complex challenges:
"In Finland, we’re currently working on an interesting project regarding water as energy. We’re engaged in an extremely productive cooperation with both waterworks and a university. I think we should use this approach more often as a means of coping with our common challenges, so this could stand as an open invitation to public organisations and universities the world over," says Kai Vakkila, adding:
"Moreover, we should all put greater focus on how to use the latest water management technology. We’ve talked about 'smart cities' for years, and now we’ve begun talking about 'smart water'. If we use the technology right, we could revolutionise the way we manage water, designing innovative water solutions that meet the needs of tomorrow’s cities."