Press Releases

  • TERI with UNICEF and HUL celebrates World Water Day and stresses on clean water: essential for human well being

    22 March 2010

    Water quality and conservation are important indicators of the overall growth of a community as it is intrinsically linked to human health, socio-economic growth, major ecosystems, environmental goods and services and sustainable development. Its importance has been highlighted in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in achieving our objectives within the stipulated time period. Clean water is a basic necessity for a healthy and prosperous world. Whether it is sewage, mining, solid waste or natural disaster, water quality has been subjected to a lot of stress. Thus, the core theme of this year’s World Water Day was ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has been trying to develop cleaner, more sustainable means of development along with finding ways to remediate and improve the ‘polluting’ ways that have become very prominent and evident. TERI with UNICEF and HUL organised a national workshop- Water Conservation and Quality Challenges: Towards Adaptive Strategies to discuss various issues related to water. Present on the inaugural function were Mr. Rajendra Singh, President, Tarun Bharat Sangh and Magsaysay Award Winner, Ms. Lizette Burgers, Chief of Water and Environmental Sanitation, UNICEF, Dr. Laxman Prasad, Adviser & Head Mission Cell: Solar Energy and Water Education, DST, Mr. Rajiv Chandran, Office-in-Charge, United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan and presided over by Mr. Ashok Jaitly, Distinguished Fellow and Director Water Division, TERI.

    Welcoming the audience, Mr. Ashok Jaitly, said, “This day has been celebrated since 1992 in order to focus attention on the critical importance of the planet’s freshwater resources and to strongly advocate the cause of sustainable management of these resources. The quality of our freshwater resources is an important parameter to assess the status of our eco-systems and human well being as it impacts upon human and animal health, food production, economic activity and biodiversity. There is clearly enough historical evidence to establish that water quality has been declining all over the planet. The adverse impact is also felt on rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater aquifer.”

    In her special address, Ms. Lizette Burgers, said, “India has a lot to be proud of as it has achieved a lot since the last couple of years. There have been positive developments in the area of water supply. India has already achieved its MDG target of 86% of access to improved sources of drinking water. However, there are many challenges in front of us. We see that out of 150 million, 134 million living in rural India have no access to water. It is also critical to look at safety of water as it is directly linked to health and social stability.”

    Mr. Rajendra Singh in his passionate speech said, “Water quality is directly affected by its exploitation, encroachment and pollution. The encouragement of agricultural boom post independence has increased the exploitation of water. Water bodies are seen as common property that has led to an increase in encroachment of the river bed area especially after a boom in real estates. One has to balance recharge and discharge to address the water quality.” He urged the participants to lead a revolution to protect and preserve the rivers of India.

    The causes of water pollution are many, but we have now come to a consensus that the anthropogenic input to the problem is of an unprecedented nature. There were four key sessions during the one-day workshop. The first session focused on addressing the water governance issues in India in terms of water quality, water conservation and equitable and sustainable water resources management; water quality related challenges, surveillance and response planning in rural areas; and the need and urgency of continuous water supply in urban areas. The second session addressed issues related to water and health impacts with a special emphasis on fluorosis, impacts of water and sanitation on child health and governance challenges. The penultimate session emphasized the technological enhancements to desalinate water in order to assure water quality and mitigate and adapt to climate change; advanced oxidative treatment of waste water. The last session dealt with water conservation strategies in Indo-Tibetan Brahmaputra basin; WWF’s initiatives to conserve freshwater; assessment of interventions on sustainable water use in livestock productivity in Indo-Ganga basin; water supply with quality benchmarks and opportunities as well as challenges in conserving water resources, ensuring food security and water management in agriculture in India.

    Around 100 participants from across the sectors took part in the World Water Day celebration. The event witnessed representations from international institutions like UNICEF, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), International Livestock Research Instittute (ILRI), World Bank, WWF and International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID); research institutes like Centre for Policy Research, Bhabha Atomic Research Centres (BARC), Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), IIT Guwahati, IIT Kharahpur and Laxminarayan Institute of Technology; government organizations like Centre Water Commission (CWC), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways; NGOs like Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Development Alternatives, Action for Food Production (AFPRO) and Santhigiri Ashram; corporates like Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), Basic sanitation Pvt. Ltd., Sulabh International Social service organization and Pepsi Co.; and media.

    The workshop provided a common platform to various stakeholders in order to express their concerns and share their experiences on various aspects of water conservation and water quality. The intention of conducting the national workshop was to gather and disseminate knowledge on various aspects of the theme, for example governance issues, technological interventions, quality benchmarks, surveillance response planning, water and health impacts, mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

    About TERI
    For many years, TERI has been gaining momentum in the sector of water resources management, conservation and policy. Projects such as HighNoon (which investigates the effect of retreating glaciers and erratic monsoons on the water resources of Northern India) and MYWATER (Mobilising Youth for WATER conservation) have given TERI the edge in both the scientific and social aspects of water resource management. Reaching out internationally, TERI also co-organized a side-event with World Environment Centre during COP15, in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, which put forward several “strategies and practices for emerging water management and governance challenges”, in the context of climate change and water vulnerability. As a definitive glimpse into the future, TERI will also be taking responsibility as the Knowledge Hub for water and climate change adaptation in South Asia, an initiative endorsed by the Asia Pacific Water Forum (APWF), supported by PUB Singapore, the UNESCO, UNESCO-IHE and the Asian Development Bank.

    About UNICEF
    Following a human-rights based approach, the well known United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) are constantly advancing the cause for childrens rights and working to provide them with an adequate standard of living. In that light, UNICEF has developed the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes with which, they are aspiring to achieve significant improvements in the supply of safe drinking water, sanitation access and hygiene practices globally. Keeping the Milennium Development Goals in clear sight, UNICEF has set a target to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

    About HUL
    Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), who are also the organisers of this event, have taken a keen interest in water conservation and watershed management. In addition to the quality of water, the supply, conservation and overall management are of paramount importance. Maintaining the quality and abundance of water resources must be complimented with proper conservation and management methods. They were heard loud and clear when their Watershed Management pilot project in Khamgaon, Maharashtra, led to the conversion of a 5 hectare semi-barren area to a forest of over 6300 trees. This project was based on a simple idea of practicing the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and renew, which are the cornerstones of sustainable growth.