[ASC-media] Australian Takes Helm on International water issues

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Wed Jul 25 23:20:24 CEST 2007

26 July 2007			 	    			
Media contacts: Cathy Reade 0413 575 934; creade at squirrel.com.au
  		 Dawn Rodriguez; +94 11 2787404; d.rodriguez at cgiar.org 

- Improved government policy support and better use of science needed
to improve water use efficiency and water productivity

Australian soil and water scientist, Colin Chartres, will shortly take over
as Director General of the Sri Lanka-based International Water Management
Institute (IWMI), the world’s pre-eminent research institution on management
of water for food, livelihoods and the environment. He has voiced a strong
commitment to deploy water research knowledge to hasten achievement of the
U.N. Millennium Development Goals. 

With 30 years’ experience in driving research and policy reform in natural
resources management, Chartres takes over as countries across the world
reflect upon the findings of last year’s ground-breaking and authoritative
Comprehensive Assessment on Water Management in Agriculture. It found water
scarcity to be a stark present day reality, and not a future threat as was
widely believed.

Prior to his appointment, Dr Chartres was Chief Science Advisor to
Australia’s National Water Commission where he led a baseline assessment of
Australia’s water resources and development of a science framework for the
Commission. He also worked in various capacities with the Australian
Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO), and chaired the
Global Research Alliance’s Water Action Council. 

“Governments world wide need to make the hard decisions to improve water
productivity and water use efficiency. Some governments are certainly better
at this than others,” says Chartres.

He questions technology quick-fixes for water problems, given their energy
“I don’t think we can contemplate water management issues in the next 50
years without a complementary understanding of the relationship between
water and energy.”

He noted that whilst technologies exist to desalinate water, treat sewage to
drinkable standards and pump water from place to place, they are energy
intensive, and thus often costly in terms of money and carbon releases to
the atmosphere. 

“Future water management whether for agriculture, industry or urban uses
will have to consider minimizing energy costs and utilizing green power.”

“In keeping with the recommendations of the Comprehensive Assessment,
governments need to better plan for rainfall as the primary source of water
as opposed to the current practice that only begins managing water when in
rivers and ground aquifers.”
“Similarly, we need to consider how the environment provides environmental
services such as water to agriculture and other users and ensure that
management practices integrate agriculture and the environment.”

A believer of the triple – economic, social and environmental – bottom-line
approach to water management, Dr Chartres envisions increasing knowledge and
understanding on how to determine the real value of water and how markets
can help improve water use efficiency.

“While market and price-based approaches may be effective in wealthy
countries like Australia, and are rightly the centre of strong debates at
the moment, they are unlikely to yield immediate solutions for developing
countries, where better information coupled with  governance reform may
provide more rapid outcomes.”

“I have a strong personal commitment to the fact that most of today’s water
issues cannot be solved without a truly integrated triple bottom-line
approach. In wealthy and poor countries alike, a key to successful outcomes
will be the reflection of sound research in government policies,” he says. 

Notes to Editors:
IWMI is one of the 15 international agriculture research centers supported
by the CGIAR, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural
Research. IWMI’s mission is to improve the management of land and water
resources for food, livelihoods and nature. 

The Comprehensive Assessment on Water Management in Agriculture was jointly
supported by the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research
(CGIAR) together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the
Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. 

Cathy Reade
Coordinator - Public Awareness
Crawford Fund
Ph/Fax: 07 54483095
Mobile: 0413 575 934

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