viernes, 2 de febrero de 2018

How Many More Years Will It Be One of WEF’s Top Global Risks Before the World Starts Valuing Water?

Recently, the ​World Economic ​Forum (WEF) ​released its ​latest ​iteration of ​its annual ​Global Risk ​Report. Once ​again, water-​related issues ​were top of ​mind both in ​terms of ​likelihood and ​severity, ​especially ​because — ​as we must ​continue to ​remind people ​— water (​or the lack of ​water) is how ​the world is ​beginning to ​experience the ​impacts of ​climate change.

Granted, as ​water people, ​we have our ​bias when we ​look at the ​list, but four ​of the top five ​global risks in ​terms of impact ​over the next ​decade can be ​viewed as ​manifestations ​of water risk. ​“Extreme ​Weather ​Events”? ​Too much water (​floods), or too ​little water (​droughts). ​“Natural ​Disasters”​? Flooding is ​#1 on that list.​ “Failure ​of climate ​change ​mitigation and ​adaptation”​? The need to ​be better ​prepared to ​handle water ​challenges. ​“Water ​Crises”? ​Enough said.

What’s ​even more ​striking is the ​fact that water ​issues continue,​ year after ​year, to be top ​of mind. Over ​the past five ​years, water ​issues have ​shown up in ​directly in 44 ​percent (11/25) ​of the top ​risks by ​likelihood and ​indirectly in ​more than half (​e.g., ​governance ​failures, human ​migration ​that’s ​often had a ​water-related ​driver). ​Similarly, in ​terms of impact ​the numbers are ​even higher ​with direct ​links to 56 ​percent of the ​top risks and ​nearly 70 ​percent by the ​time one ​accounts for ​food shortages/​commodity price ​variability (​often a ​function of ​droughts/floods)​ or the spread ​of infectious ​diseases (often ​driven by ​insects, which ​in turn are ​driven by water ​availability). ​Even more ​concerning is ​that the trend ​seems to be ​increasing. ​Water has ​increasingly ​shown up in the ​Global Risks ​report over the ​past decade and ​in the last few ​years has ​become even ​more prominent. ​For example, in ​both 2017 and ​2018, 80% of ​the top risks ​in terms of ​impact have ​been water-​related.

But the most ​striking fact ​of all is that ​despite water ​being the most ​prevalent and ​consistent ​aspect to the ​Global Risks ​report, water ​continues to be ​undervalued. ​The past two ​years have seen ​an effort by ​the High Level ​Panel on Water ​to raise the ​profile on the ​value of water. ​As WWF, we ​raised similar ​issues back ​in ​2015 with our ​joint report ​with IFC . We also ​continue to ​flag the ​critical ​importance of ​the value of ​rivers for ​everything from ​economic growth ​and food ​security, to ​culture and the ​value of ​ecosystem ​services. River ​systems may ​indeed be the ​greatest global ​example of a ​market failure ​as both ​policies and ​markets have ​turned them ​into dumping ​grounds.

This shared ​failure to ​build robust ​green-grey ​infrastructure ​systems that ​support our ​rivers, ​wetlands and ​aquifers to ​sustainably ​provide ​sufficient ​water for ​people and ​nature cannot ​continue to be ​ignored. Basins ​that are facing ​stress ​translate into ​water risks for ​companies and ​investors ​— as we ​see through the ​WEF report. ​What is ​important, ​however, is ​that we develop ​context-​specific ​solutions and ​deploy them at ​scale. The ​Water Risk Filter , which will ​be re-launched ​in 2018, is one ​tool that WWF ​harnesses to ​not only ​explore ​specific basin ​water risks, ​but then guide ​contextual ​response. It ​also offers the ​ability for ​investors to ​identify where ​there is a need ​for bankable ​projects that ​begin to ​systemically ​address this ​perennial water ​challenge. At ​WWF, we’​re not only ​flagging the ​need to value ​our rivers, ​we’re ​scaling ​solutions by ​bringing ​financial ​capital to the ​table. From ​mutual funds to ​landscape ​finance ​projects, WWF ​is seeking to ​raise our level ​of ambition and ​solve the ​challenges.

We all need to ​work ensure ​that five years ​from now, when ​we read the ​latest WEF ​Global Risks ​report that ​water no longer ​represents 50 ​percent of the ​global risks. ​We must begin ​to harness ​capital markets ​to scale our ​response. Water ​is THE global ​risk facing our ​planet. ​It’s time ​we starting ​treating it ​that way.