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Water for Our Future Q&A with Patrick Cairo and Dale Jacobson

As part of the regional planning process of the 7th World Water Forum, World Wildlife Fund and The Coca-Cola Company are hosting Water for Our Future—an event convening influential voices from government, civil society and business to explore issues and solutions to the world’s water challenges. Through collective action, we hope to achieve greater scale and impact to catalyze action to value, conserve and protect the planet’s fresh water.

Leading up to Water for Our Future, WWF and Coca-Cola will be sharing responses to water-related questions from select event participants to initiate discussion and continue to raise awareness of our global water challenges. For our final installment in the series, we talk to Patrick Cairo of United Water and Dale Jacobson of the World Water Council.

Q&A with Patrick Cairo
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
United Water


What is your first memory of water?

From my youth, swimming in the sea.

What is the biggest issue in water today?

Its proper allocation and use among competing needs.

What steps should be taken to address it?

Each party needs to take the necessary measures to use it wisely and recognize that it is under severe stress.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about water?

Water should be free or as inexpensive as possible.

If the World Water Forum could accomplish one thing, what would it be?

Bring water solutions to a higher level of national and international consciousness by:

  • Continuing to bring together various stakeholders and promote open dialogues to water policy; and
  • Bridging the gap between governments and other key stakeholders.

How would you like to see your counterparts in other sectors help advance solutions/solve the challenges impacting fresh water (e.g., As a public sector agency, what do you think the role of the private sector is? As an NGO, what roles should government and companies fill)?

  • Governments, particularly local governments, should set policy for its governance and allocation between competing needs; ensure that pricing structures are affordable for all; provide cost subsidies so the less advantaged populations can afford needed water; and safeguard its quality.
  • NGOs should promote the wise use of water; and participate but not try and dominate stakeholder dialogues.
  • Private companies should bring their management, operational, technical and financial expertise to improve water availability.

Patrick Cairo will moderate the “Safe Water for All” panel discussion at Water for Our Future, an event helping shape the agenda for the 7th World Water Forum. Read more about Patrick Cairo and United Water.


 

Q&A with Dale Jacobson, PE, BCEE, D.WRE, F.ASCE
Governor
World Water Council


What is your first memory of water?

My first significant memory of water is the drilling of an irrigation well on my Dad’s farm in Central Nebraska. Previously, the farmland was dry land. I was young, but understood that this water would make a significant difference in both the yield of the crop (corn) and reliability of the annual yield since the amount of water would be consistent from year to year without having to rely on rain for a good harvest. The well produced about 600 gallons per minute and it was adequate for the acreage planted to corn. In subsequent years, I participated in all aspects of the farming operation including preparing the land, planting and cultivating the corn, and of course irrigating the corn from an open ditch using tubes. And then finally, in the fall, harvesting the crop.

What is the biggest issue in water today?

After working in the water sector for decades, selecting a single biggest issue is difficult. Obviously, water for food is a huge issue now and will become even more critical as the world population grows by 2 billion in the next few decades. Drinking water and sanitation continue to be big issues also. The Millennium Development Goals for drinking water and sanitation are very important and although the drinking water goal has been met, much remains to be done. The sanitation goal will likely not be met and even more remains to be done. Accordingly, adequate sanitation is the biggest issue in water today.

What steps should be taken to address it?

This is a multi-faceted problem in that the solutions are different from a rural and urban perspective and also different from a geographical perspective. As more cities in developing countries become mega-cities, for example, the need for adequate sanitation will only increase. It is not enough to convey the sewage through a system of pipes for disposal into a river or the ocean. This sewage must be treated – to some level – to reduce contamination and therefore prevent the spread of waterborne disease. Treatment will take technical, financial and human resources – and considerable time.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about water?

In the developed world, water is taken for granted – that it will always be there in adequate quantity and quality. Most do not think about the source of the water and how it got to them other than from the tap in their home. Similarly, most do not think about where it goes when it leaves their home via a plumbing fixture.

If the World Water Forum could accomplish one thing, what would it be?

Once again, a question that is too broad to be answered with one thing. The World Water Forum is actively engaged in hydro-politics to bring all aspects of water to the front and center to be dealt with by the world’s policymakers. The key will be for the policymakers to embrace the need to solve the world’s water issues through development of appropriate policies and mechanisms for funding solutions.

How would you like to see your counterparts in other sectors help advance solutions/solve the challenges impacting fresh water (e.g., As a public sector agency, what do you think the role of the private sector is? As an NGO, what roles should government and companies fill)?

The public sector will have to be able to provide the financial resources as the provision for water and sanitation is a public health issue. The private sector has much to contribute once the financing is in place. Private sector technical, engineering, scientific, construction and financing professionals will contribute once the policymakers develop policies and fund them appropriately to address the many issues in the water sector.


Dale Jacobson will be participating in the “Preparing for the 7th World Water Forum” panel discussion at Water for Our Future, an event helping shape the agenda for the 7th World Water Forum. Read more about Dale Jacobson and his involvement with the World Water Council.


 

 

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