Spotlight on the meaning of water for World Water Day


This year is important. When the post-2015 development agenda is finalized this fall, it will shape the global agenda for water.  For the social media campaign for World Water Day, UN-Water has invited people around the world to celebrate water by showing what water means to them. By taking a piece of paper and using the hashtag #WaterIs, global citizens are able to spread their messages.


Water is a precondition for human existence,” says UN Deputy Secretary-General for World Water Day

For World Water Day, UNDP, the coordinator for the 2015 World Water Day campaign – on behalf of Un-Water – and SIWI have partnered up with the One Water Project at the University of Miami for a special project: A film on water and sustainable development that features interviews with the UN Deputy Secretary-General and Stockholm Water Prize Laureates.


World Water Day Trailer

Water links to almost everything in the world. Health. Nature. Urbanization. Industry. Energy. Food. Equality. 
In this animated film, UN-Water aims to show how water underpins sustainable development. The film has been made using motion 3D technique and the music is especially composed for the occasion. 

John Briscoe will be missed tremendously, Winner of Water’s Nobel, Dies.

Sir briscoe...

The world water community is mourning the loss of a GREAT THINKER and GLOBAL WATER EXPERT; Sir John Briscoe. We deepest condolences go to his family and friends. Sir John Briscoe was highly respected wherever he went. His counsel and actions on social and environmental development issues, water management practices and vision on policy formulation and local engagement spoke for themselves. He had excelled for his technical expertise, managerial and negotiating skills. He was a practitioner as well as a true world water leader. Environmental engineering professor John Briscoe, who specialized in water management and received the 2014 Stockholm Water Prize—commonly referred to as “the Nobel Prize of water”—died last Wednesday of cancer. He was 66.
May his Soul Rest in Peace.


Flooding could worsen Pakistan’s water shortage

Pakistan. Farmers, experts sceptically about benefit of crops insurance scheme


The government has allocated Rs 2.5 billion in the budget of 2014-15 for the crop loan insurance scheme, but farmers and experts remain skeptical about the implementation of the scheme. Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan, Kisan Board chairman, told Business Recorder on Tuesday that the scheme was useless as the government has no strategy to reach the subsistent level farmers.

“Such schemes are designed solely to get political mileage,” he said pointing out flaws in the scheme. He said the farmers could not benefit from the scheme until the government declared an area calamity-hit. “The farmers who get a loan from Zari Taraqiati Bank are charged two percent extra interests for an insurance scheme, but their grievances are never addressed,” he said.

During the budget speech Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that all farmers obtaining loans for production of five major crops would be eligible to benefit from the scheme. “About 700,000 farmer households/families will benefit from the scheme. Total budget cost of the scheme is Rs 2.5 billion,” he said. In the budget, the scope of crop insurance premium reimbursement was enhanced from 12.5 acres to 25 acres of land.

Giving statistics about the small farmers, Sarfaraz Khan said around 91 percent of farmers in Pakistan have a land holding of up to 25 acres and they should be looked after in a better way by the government. “If the government wants to make the insurance scheme a success story, then it should introduce the scheme on yield basis instead of damage to the crops,” he suggested.

He pointed out that the government has not designed any specific evaluation criteria for the insurance scheme for small farmers. “The schemes are always geared to benefit small farmers, but ultimately they end up benefiting the progressive farmers,” he said. Dr Pervaiz Amir, an environmental expert and former chief of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Climate Change, said the insurance schemes have been announced in the past as well with much fanfare but ultimately they proved to be unimplementable. “How can small farmers afford the premium,” he questioned, suggesting that the government should provide loans to farmers at minimal interest rate instead of favouring gimmicks.

He said the crop insurance scheme has always been abused by officials as there has been no specific mechanism to settle claims. “It is ridiculous that a farmer cannot claim his insurance until the government declares his area as calamity-hit,” he said. Dr Amir suggested the government should ensure better market access for the farmers guarantee good price for their produce and support efforts to increase production of crops to facilitate subsistence farmers.

“There is also an element of religion in the insurance scheme,” he said, adding “people don’t get life insurance, let alone crop insurance.” Muhammad Rizwanullah, Senior Vice President at ZTBL, told Business Recorder that around 1.2 million subsistence farmers have benefited from the scheme in the last five years.

Admitting flaws in the scheme, he said that if an area was hit by some kind of disaster, the ZTBL got 300 percent indemnity from the insurance company for the area, but the amount was distributed among all borrowers. “This is true the farmers never get the full claim for their insured crops,” he said, adding the ZTBL cannot improve the system on its own as the bank serves only as a liaison between the State Bank of Pakistan and the insurance companies.


Top 10 countries best prepared for the future of energy


The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2014, released this week, ranks the energy systems of 124 countries from three perspectives: economic growth and development; environmental sustainability; and energy access and security. We call these three perspectives the “energy triangle”.

The purpose of the Index is to help countries position themselves for the widespread transition that is expected in global, regional and national energy systems.


Here are the 10 countries that are best prepared for this transition:

1. Norway – 0.75

With a score of 0.75 out of 1, Norway is the top performer across the Index. Norway’s success arises mainly from two factors: its vast natural resource endowment and its focus on developing renewable, sustainable energy. These strengths make the country the highest performer in energy access and security (0.96) and explain its high scores across the other dimensions of the energy triangle.

2. New Zealand – 0.73

New Zealand’s energy system is characterized by the diversity of its total primary energy supply (TPES) and the development of renewable energy sources. Its liberalized energy market has delivered a relatively high level of energy security and economic prosperity.

3. France – 0.72

Energy policy in France has focused on balancing environmentally sustainable energy production, affordability of energy and the competitiveness of its industry. France has been at the forefront of addressing concerns over nuclear energy by creating a framework for managing radioactive waste and materials. However, France aims to reduce the contribution of nuclear to 50% of power generation by 2025, with plans to diversify into renewable energy sources and fiscal disincentives for fossil fuel consumption.

4. Sweden – 0.72

Sweden receives its best score for environmental sustainability, ranking in second place behind France. Sweden’s energy sector is defined by its nuclear generation (though high taxes are imposed on the nuclear industry) and a policy focus on renewable energy. In 2009, Sweden’s Climate and Energy Policy outlined the goals of a fossil-fuel independent vehicle fleet by 2030 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Meanwhile, Sweden leads the way in transport, with a blend of fiscal incentives for the purchase of flexible-fuel vehicles and congestion charge systems in urban centres.

5. Switzerland – 0.72

Switzerland’s strong performance across the energy triangle is largely a result of its nuclear-generating capacity, which contributes to low-carbon, affordable energy. However, in 2011, Switzerland’s Federal Council launched its Energy 2050 strategy that involves both the gradual phasing out of nuclear power and the aggressive target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth by 2020.

6. Denmark – 0.71

Denmark is the best EU performer in both the economic growth and development category and the energy access and security category. It has rolled out a number of policies for renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change, with the long-term energy objective of becoming completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

7. Colombia – 0.70

Colombia’s position on the Index is largely due to the transformation of its oil and gas sector. Following a steady decline in hydrocarbon production up until 2008, Colombia has seen a dramatic increase in production thanks to successful investment in the development of its fields. This affects the country’s performance on energy security and on economic growth, with production making Colombia self-sufficient in natural gas. The export of gas to neighbouring Venezuela has also helped generate revenue.

8. Spain – 0.67

Spain is the fifth largest energy consumer in Europe and, thanks to recent investment in wind and solar power, one of the region’s largest producers of electricity from renewables. However, the sizeable investment and incentive framework for renewables, coupled with the economic downturn, is making it more difficult for the country to maintain its competitiveness in the power-generating sector. It also poses challenges for keeping prices affordable for customers. Addressing the impact of changes to subsidies and investment in renewables are key areas Spain needs to address.

9. Costa Rica – 0.67

Costa Rica, alongside Colombia, is one of only two upper middle-income countries to rank within the top 10 in the Index. Costa Rica has established itself as a world leader in renewable energy, with considerable investment in developing and expanding renewable energy capacity, especially wind power. Costa Rica achieves 52% of its TPES from renewables, with over 99% of electricity output produced by renewable energy sources, predominantly hydro.

10. Latvia – 0.66

Latvia’s success is largely driven by the decline in the overall energy intensity of its economy. This is thanks to the liberalization of its energy sector and targeted initiatives for improvements in energy efficiency. Like most Eastern European countries, Latvia is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its fossil fuel supply. To mitigate the risks of over-dependence on a single supplier, Latvia has diversified its electricity sector to derive 54% of power from hydro and another 3% from wind and biomass.

Read the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2014.

Author: Roberto Bocca is Senior Director, Head of Energy Industries at the World Economic Forum.