Water is essential to a healthy society and economy. The water crisis is already impacting large parts of the planet, driven by climate change and made worse by pollution, wastage, bad infrastructure and bad management. Business communities everywhere have an important role to play in addressing the water crisis. They will not only suffer the economic consequences of water scarcity but have the ability, resources and know-how to start addressing the problem before it is too late. Our campaign on water identified efficiency of use, as the fastest, cheapest and simplest action to take in order to address the current water crisis. The campaign was focused on South Africa, as there are few places is the world, where the impact of water scarcity is felt as keenly. The consequences are already affecting peoples’ lives and livelihoods and are accelerating year-by-year.
Running on Empty – What Business, Government and Citizens must do to confront South Africa’s water crisis
South Africa, one of the driest countries in the world, is on the cusp of a major water crisis that poses a serious and immediate risk to the economy and to social stability. Against this backdrop, an urgent collective focus on water efficiency involving all parts of society is the only way to address this risk in a timely manner. This report explains that managing water scarcity is not just one of many peripheral issues South Africa faces, but one that, with increasing pressures from climate change, population growth and the future demands of economic development, could determine the country’s progress. Lack of action could lead to social conflicts, cause further damage to already marginalised communities and severely limit socioeconomic development. While the poor face the greatest immediate risk, this challenge ultimately threatens everyone. The report puts forward a paradigm shift in the way we value and manage water. Instead of placing the prime focus on building new dams and infrastructure that will take too long to help solve the immediate crisis, South Africa must refocus its response from securing supply to investing in managing demand more effectively. The most immediate requirement is to massively ramp up water efficiency measures at all levels, which could generate significant water savings and result in a more equitable distribution of water. South African business community should play an active role in this transition.
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