Lahore: Panelists while discussing World Water Day concurred that water resources, if managed properly, by all actors collectively, would ensure that everyone has access to it. They agreed that human behavior, social customs, institutions, and government policies heavily influence conservation of water.
The discussion took place at a seminar “Together for Water”, held jointly by Nestlé Pakistan and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The panelists represented a range of stakeholders; from think-tanks to academia and from government to private sector. The seminar highlighted issues faced by Pakistan, stressing possible solutions and a collaborative approach towards water conservation.
Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is also goal number six of sustainable development goals (SDGs) by United Nations which signifies its importance. Pakistan has the world’s fourth highest rate of water use. The water intensity rate the amount of water in cubic meters used per unit of GDP- is also the highest in the world, suggesting that the country’s economy is more water-intensive. This wastage of water must be halted to further dive into the pool of scarcity.
Highlighting the importance of finding nature based solutions to water conservation, Hammad Naqi, CEO, WWF-Pakistan said
“WWF-Pakistan is committed to promoting nature based solutions to conserving and restoring water resources of Pakistan. This encompasses a holistic approach of water stewardship, security and conservation combined.”
He gave the example of how WWF is working with companies like Nestlé to implement an international water standard that promotes the use of water in a socially equitable, economically beneficial, and environmentally sustainable way, through a stakeholder inclusive approach.
Nisar Memon, Chairman of Water Environment Forum, talked about water governance in Pakistan, saying,
“People and Governments of Pakistan are together to protect, preserve and plan water assets of Pakistan such as: 7235 glaciars and our major rivers – Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. The climate change challenges are being met with our 2013 National Climate Change Policy and today as we meet here in LUMS Lahore, the Council of Common Interests meeting in planned in Islamabad to approve the National Water Policy to ensure water-energy-food for our over 210 million is well governed.”
Dr Zakir Hussain, Principal Scientific Officer, Pakistan Agricultural Research Councilsaid“Pakistan’s agriculture is increasingly vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change. Improving farmers’ resilience to climate change requires more efficient use and equitable distribution of irrigation water, agricultural insurance to protect farmers against losses, and support from the government in adopting climate-smart agricultural practices.”
Dr Abubakar from the Centre of Water Informatics and Technology, LUMS talked about how technology can be usedin agriculture for efficient water management. He also stressed the need for industry workingwith academia to find solutions, using Nestlé-WIT relationship as a model. The two partners are working on smart soil sensors that can help farmers to reduce water usage in agriculture and also avoid crop stress due to over and under irrigation.