Water Stewardship

 Water use across various sectors in India is on the rise. Various estimates and projections indicate an increasing trend in water demand for agriculture, industrial and domestic uses in the coming decades. India is also projected to move into the category of water-stressed nation by 2020. Water related risks to industries in India are growing. While there has not been any comprehensive research on industry water risks, a report by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) shows that availability of water is becoming an area of concern for the industries across different sectors.

Past work:
WWF-India’s Living Ganga Programme initiated work on the industrial footprint in the year 2010 with two key polluting sectors in the Ganga Basin—sugar and paper and pulp. In collaboration with a leading Industry Chamber and individual industries, certain pathways for reduction of footprint (20-30 per cent) have been demonstrated. The focus of the work was to demonstrate better management practices to improve resource use efficiency at the industry level. Similarly the work with cities of Kanpur and Allahabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh has looked at pollution abatement using bioremediation—an alternate approach to heavy infrastructure based strategies programme of the government. This programme was successful in its demonstration and by its very experimental nature did not look at the links between water and waste and pollution reduction and treatment at source.

Graduating to Water Stewardship
During the next phase, work with both cities and industries will graduate to water stewardship, wherein both the sectors WWF-India will look beyond internal efficiency within the geographical area of operation and start working with other stakeholders to influence watershed, sub-basin, basin-level water management policies. Water stewardship approach is expected to raise awareness on water-related risks and also on the opportunities around addressing these risks and the approaches needed to address these risks. This would mean bringing together all the stakeholders (urban water users, industry managers, retailers, financial institutions, regulators and government officials) around a common agenda and facilitating collective action leading to an overall improvement in the basin management practices.

The key steps involve raising awareness and knowledge on the impact of water risks, internal action, stakeholder engagement and influencing basin governance. The idea is to encourage stakeholders to look beyond their respective areas of operation and move towards a holistic management of water-related issues.

The programme recently organized a multi-stakeholder dialogue, in partnership with the District Administration of Moradabad and Forest State Department of Uttar Pradesh, with the objective of debating and discussing strategies to revive Ramganga, on 29 January 2013.
More details can be found in the meeting report – ‘Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue to Revive Ramganga’
The programme also proposes to conduct river health assessments in the Ganga basin. The programme feels that there is an urgent need to organize and empower the riparian communities and stakeholders ( government, [state, district, and village level], businesses, urban managers and citizens) to actively engage in river basin management. There are little or no avenues available at present for the participation of these communities in river basin management.

The Rivers for Life, Life for Rivers programme plans to form multi-stakeholder platforms at 15-20 strategic locations along the Ganga and the Ramganga. This platform will convene at a predetermined interval to discuss and debate the state of the river and advocacy issues. This platform will engage in advocacy with government and policy-makers. These platforms will also work towards influencing knowledge, attitude and practices of their own defined constituencies. These groups will help WWF to reach out to a larger constituency of communities, PRIs and politicians. An annual meeting of the peer groups is also envisaged to facilitate experience and knowledge sharing.
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