Freshwater sustains life – neither people nor nature can exist without it. It’s necessary for food and energy security, it is vital for human health and functioning eco-systems. Water is also a tremendous contributor to economic growth.
Yet, many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. More than half the world’s wetlands have disappeared. Agriculture consumes more water than any other source and wastes much of that through inefficiencies. Experts predict that ‘business as usual’ water use will expose 4.8 billion people to severe water scarcity by 2050. For all these reasons many talk about a global water crisis, along with climate change, as the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.
The global water crisis can be improved and managed with a shared vision and by smart, sustainable investment in water management.
Today’s Challenges in Water Finance
The World Water Council and Global Water Partnership cite that ‘water, above all, is a problem of governance’. WWF says often laws, policies and institutions meant to protect and manage water aren’t strong enough, meaning that resources aren’t managed well with an often shortfall in necessary investment and technologies. Sustainable WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) for example, estimates that of 800,000 hand pumps installed in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 years, some 30% are known to fail prematurely, representing a total failed investment of at least $1.2 billion. Less than 1% of projects have any long-term monitoring.
A First of its Kind Water Standard
To address these issues, The Gold Standard is pioneering a Water Benefit Standard that will help to bring investment, and long term governance, to critically important water projects, ensuring that they are successful over time. By applying a Gold Standard reward for results model, proven for a decade in financing successful clean energy projects, we will drive investment into programmes that supply, purify, and conserve water.
The standard is being developed in association with the Water Benefit Partners Programme, initiated and managed by First Climate. The Programme is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the Swiss Government and a number of NGO and commercial partners.
Goals of The Gold Standard Water Programme:
• To provide safe water to local communities
• To conserve water by decreasing consumption
• To ensure other environmental and social benefits
We are working with a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of the world’s leading technical and policy experts to formulate the industry’s first Rules and Requirements, and Methodologies for water programmes. These will provide the framework that ultimately ensures initiatives lead to real, measurable, and sustainable outcomes.
Several pilot projects have been short listed and are currently underway. Find more information about these projects in process.
The Gold Standard’s Water Benefit Standard will be launched on 3rd September 2014 at World Water Week in Stockholm. We will then hold a public consultation to solicit feedback on the development of this groundbreaking work and will also continue piloting.
Expressions of interest are invited from organisations that may wish to consider providing financial and/or material in-kind contributions to expand and enhance the programme. Please contact the secretariat at email@example.com to top