The global water crisis ranging from extremities of excessive rainfall to scarcity and distress poses a grave threat to larger international development. This includes severe effects on public health, equitable socio-economic growth and global trade. Intertwined with the increasing climate change calamities, issues around water availability, accessibility and security call for an active and inclusive dialogue between various stakeholders. In terms of its abilities and resources to effectively deal with these issues, the developing world faces a greater burden not only in tackling these catastrophes but also in contributing to the success of global goals and commitments towards sustainable growth and development. Global warming is expected to further heighten water distress. This necessitates a deep-rooted fundamental approach for constructing adaptable and integrated water management policies and practices.
As a rapidly growing major economy coupled with factors like a significant demographic advantage, India possesses a strong leadership potential to foster international cooperation for catalyzing global sustainable development. With the presidency of G20 for a year beginning from December 2022, India assumes a pivotal role in formulating the agenda on critical issues while steering both attention and action of the global community. Mitigating climate change, climate financing, developmental cooperation, energy security as well as inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth form key priorities of the G20 agenda for 2023. Sustainable practices and comprehensive mechanisms to tackle a variety of problems around water scarcity as well as excessive flooding and unnatural rainfall, therefore, form integral components of the broader G20 agenda focusing on sustainability and international development cooperation.
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In order to comprehensively develop and implement the sustainable strategies and practices of water conservation and usage, close cooperation between the public and private sector becomes essential for extensive reach and efficient operations. In the context of water management and conservation initiatives, public-private partnerships attain greater prominence in view of the magnitude of such projects across the global levels and grassroots. This also involves the development of a close network and collaboration among numerous stakeholders including the government and the public sector, the private players and civil society organizations. It drives an integrated cohesive grouping of various players to work in synchronized fashion to achieve larger policy goals with marked changes on ground. Encouraging participation from major collaborators in the socio-economic developmental space involving large-scale participation from the youth, such groupings can effectively function to make a concrete difference.
Government initiatives for such projects ensure access and availability of public resources while also bringing in scale. Meanwhile, the private sector introduces a host of global best practices, expertise, technology and experience. Together, the public and the private sectors can effectively work towards filling the gaps in funding as well as capital and human resources, expanding reach, increasing efficiency and enhancing performance to address diverse socio-economic issues. Therefore, Public-Private Partnership’s (PPP) potential to invigorate India’s sustainable infrastructure is also being explored progressively. The actualization of which can be seen in a multitude of initiatives.
Some large corporations and conglomerates have ventured into working towards water conservation and sustainable usage. Along with the government, these organizations strive towards achieving goals like ‘Har Ghar Jal’ aiming for creating a large-scale impact. Such collaborative efforts are exemplified by initiatives like Hindustan Unilever Foundation’s Water For Public Good initiative, ITC’s Watershed Development Programme and HDFC Bank’s Parivartan Yojna also work towards water conservation and management.
The case of Anandana – Coca-Cola India Foundation, illustrates this synergy as their water management and stewardship projects amplify a collaborative partnership to address environmental concerns. An instance of collective participation in a water scarce village in Kolar, Karnataka embodies this spirit. Project Jaldhara channeled community engagement and active capacity building. Through desiltation of water tanks and rivers in arid villages of Kolar, borewell water level enhanced substantially due to increased groundwater percolation and this established a larger socio-economic impact upon people.
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Thus, these activities and engagements have made consistent efforts to address issues of water stress, while also creating a larger socio-economic impact through active capacity-building and community engagement.
With their widespread global presence, global corporations can further develop and enhance such initiatives and work towards building expansive collaborative partnerships with multiple stakeholders for driving substantial change and creating a profound positive socio-economic, infrastructural and environmental impact. Such public-private partnerships have thus come to resonate with the developmental and sustainability goals paving the way for a more integrated approach towards tackling major global challenges by aiming at creating a multi-level impact. Consequently, effective public-private partnership collaborations and initiatives can drive and support global goals while imbuing dynamic transformations. With several such programs working on ground, India possesses tremendous capacities to build more sustainable ecosystems. Driving by such policy and governance initiatives, India holds a promising potential to spearhead global water conservation and sustainability practices to emerge as a leader on the global stage. A large geographical expanse coupled with a young population and growing economy renders a crucial edge for India’s role to lead the way ahead. Bringing together different stakeholders across the developmental spectrum, India can propel a global momentum to pave the way towards a sustainable future.
The author is a former secretary to the Government of India. He is IAS (Retired) is an officer from 1973 batch from UP cadre was in the rank of Secretary to Government of India. He had retired as Chairman and Managing Director of Food Corporation of India. Mr Sinha’s vision to lead an organization in the Business-to- Government consultancy domain led to him founding NF Infratech in 2010. He was an Additional Secretary in the Department of Agriculture before he joined Food Corporation of India in the capacity of Chairman & Managing Director.
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