Daily Current Affairs – 22nd October, 2016DEVENDRA VISHWAKARMA
India-EU water management cooperation
Recently, a MoU was signed between Indian and the European Union (EU) on water cooperation at the World Sustainable Development Summit. Both share a vision for a sustainable water management.
Brief of MoU:
- The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and EU in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
- It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.
- Aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences and cooperation could be mutually beneficial to strengthen and further develop cooperation between India and EU.
- Objective is to tackle the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate.
- Success of the European Union has been observed in distribution of water resources, water pricing, water use efficiency by encouraging the changes in agricultural practices necessary to protect water resources and quality, such as switching to less water-demanding crops, etc.,
- The EU States have adopted water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently thereby contributing to environmental objectives.
India-EU partnership in water management
- India is one of the EU’s strategic partners.
- Cooperation between the world’s two largest democracies covers many areas, from security, trade and investment to research and innovation and sectorial cooperation.
- The India-EU Water Partnership is a great example of these close ties.
- India has 2.45% of the world’s land area, but 17.5% of the population has been going deeper into the ground for water to sustain itself.
- The water and sanitation requirements of its growing population are largely unmet.
- Thus, tackling water challenges is a real priority to reach the economic and environmental goals.
Need for water management
- In 2015 at United Nations, world leaders adopted clean water and sanitation as the sixth goal of 17 sustainable development goals for 2030.
- With the growth of population, the demand of water is also increasing. Drinking water, irrigation and sanitation are pre-conditions for life and livelihood.
- The dire consequences of water unavailability is seen in conflicts between neighbours, states and countries.
- As per 2016 United Nations World Water Development Report Water and Jobs that three out of four jobs worldwide are water-dependent.
- Thus, this highlights the importance of managing water on Earth, which is three fourth covered by water!
Water management in Europe
- EU has made progress in managing its waters. European countries have well-planned framework of laws and systems based on the Water Framework Directive adopted in 2000 and the management of river basins, many of them cross-boundary in nature, by interstate river basin authorities.
- This model can be beneficial in India also as India has to overcome many water challenges in a holistic and integrated way.
- To integrate the work of researchers and companies, a European Innovation Partnership on Water is there which facilitates innovations and supports the further development of the water sector in Europe.
- Due to a well-placed water policy, a vibrant water sector has grown in the EU with businesses providing water supply systems and improving urban wastewater treatment.
- The new initiatives is now moving towards a more circular economy, where nothing is wasted and where materials are recycled and reused as long as possible. This will also boost water reuse and the technological innovations needed for it.
- There are currently more than 9,000 SMEs in the European water sector. They employ almost 500,000 people out of a total working population of 300 million. In India, this corresponds to several million jobs in the water sector alone.
- EU has considerable experience of working with India in water sector in last decade. In Rajasthan, a recently concluded EU-India State Partnership (Rs. 500 crores) supported the development of Integrated Water Resources Management policy and its application to 3,200 villages in 11 districts. Many partnerships between India and EU are expected to be built on these lines.
- EU is looking forward to help India in its Ganga Rejuvenation initiative, through quick-win business solutions based on EU best practices, by developing a consolidated analysis taking into account joint research activities and identifying key problems and solutions, including innovative European solutions, and by contributing to an analysis of a possible appropriate governance and legal set-up for the Ganga River Basin.
- Another promising field in water management is water research and innovation where EU-India cooperation has been fruitful, with the application of natural water treatment systems as well as new technologies for the treatment of wastewater giving several low-cost options.
- Also, India is in process of negotiating its participation in the EU Joint Programming Initiative “Water challenges for a changing world” which when once finalised, will strengthen research and innovation cooperation between India, the EU and EU member states in the field of water.
- India’s participation in EU Research Programme Horizon 2020 will also be important milestone towards strengthening India-EU water partnership.
- The ultimate aim shall be to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030, and provide relief to millions of people who still struggle in obtaining clean and sufficient water for their families and their crops every day of their lives.
Connecting the dots:
- Water management is once again finding focus with various agricultural as well as water conservation initiatives. Apart from government initiatives, bilateral agreements are also undertaken in this area. Is it possible to balance internal and external partnerships or it will be over-lapping? Examine.
- Recently, India-EU signed a MoU on water partnership. Before that, Germany is also partnering with India in its ‘Clean Ganga’ mission. What is the importance of such partnerships? Discuss.