Managing water resources sustainably

Srepok River, Vietnam. Efficient water use in coffee production.
Efficient water use in coffee production in the river basin of the Srepok, which feeds into the Mekong river. © Alisher Sharypau

Demand for water continues to grow while the total volume of water available on the planet is limited and increasingly exposed to pollution. The main challenge is to manage the water sustainably and achieve an equitable distribution of water between households, agriculture and industry as well as between countries. The SDC is working to promote sustainable water use between sectors and peaceful cooperation across borders.

SDC Focus

The SDC is committed to achieving sustainable management of water resources to ensure access to water and reduce the risks of environmental degradation and conflicts. It strives to link peacebuilding with sustainable management of water resources in regions where tensions exist, and promote the efficient use, reuse and proper management of water in areas where it is in short supply.

Background

Transboundary cooperation

The SDC promotes dialogue between countries, which rely on the same river basin for their water supply. Sharing policy frameworks and technical information can help deflate existing or nascent tensions and conflicts. Switzerland, as a neutral actor with experience in mediation and acknowledged expertise in water management, is ideally placed to facilitate such discussions. At the technical level, , the SDC also supports common methods of measurement for determining the quality of water available and the quantities of water used. This data enables decision-makers to speak a common language when it comes to the management of shared water resources, and thus work together to set and reach commonly defined objectives.

Water – a commodity to be valued

Water is not free. Its protection, distribution and treatment obey the same economic laws as any other consumer good. At the same time, water is a resource to which everyone should have access, including the poorest and marginalised populations. The SDC develops mechanisms for making better use of water and promoting the reuse of wastewater.  The mechanisms provide incentives to manage water sustainably and construct environmentally friendly infrastructure in a particular region or industry.

For example, the SDC is involved alongside major corporations in facilitating the transfer of knowledge in relation to the water footprint, an indicator that enables the water used in the whole manufacturing cycle of a product to be better managed. The SDC is also pursuing the development of the 'Water Stewardship Standard' which aims to encourage all actors from business, government and civil society to take responsibility for their particular impacts on this shared resource and to work together to achieve sustainable management. Payment mechanisms are also being developed for compensating populations in the river basin areas for protecting water resources.

Current challenges

By 2030, demand for water is expected to rise by 30% while the degradation in quality caused by pollution will reach unprecedented levels.  Worldwide, 80% of urban and industrial wastewater is discharged into the environment without prior treatment. The majority of the time, the self-purification capacity of aquatic ecosystems is largely insufficient to be able to cope with such large volumes. Furthermore, agriculture requires a great deal of water, accounting for almost 70% of global consumption.  However, water is often used inefficiently and can be contaminated by fertilisers and pesticides. In addition, industry currently uses 22% of water and as it continues to grow will put water resources under even greater pressure.

By 2025, half of the world's population will be living in regions suffering permanent water scarcity, which will have the effect of weakening local economies and force millions of people to relocate. That is why it is already especially important today to use water so as to preserve its regenerative capacity and allow it to be distributed equitably.

Current projects

Object 25 – 36 of 104

Water Security Middle East (Blue Peace)

01.02.2019 - 31.12.2021

In the Middle East, the dire situation of water resources demands stronger regional cooperation than ever before. The Blue Peace Middle East Initiative is the only regional platform engaging six countries around water issues. Together with its partners from academia, international organisations, civil society and the private sector, Switzerland is able to promote policy and concrete solutions for serving the most vulnerable populations leading to sustainable development and peace building. Stability in the region is in the interest of Switzerland.


Gestión integral del agua

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

In Bolivia, Switzerland has been supporting the Ministry of the Environment and Water in improving integrated water and watershed management for several years. In this last phase of the project, support is given to the consolidation and implementation of the “Plan Nacional de Cuencas” (National Watershed Plan) to ensure water security and increase the climate resilience of vulnerable populations. Consolidation includes better coordination among various state levels, sectors and institutions and the systematization and capitalization of experiences and results.


SDC Education Fund

01.01.2019 - 30.06.2022

As part of its increased commitment for Education and of the implementation of SDC’s Education Strategy, the SDC launches an Education Fund in order to incentivize innovation and the application of new approaches in basic education/vocational skills development and through educational activities across sectors. Innovation can have a catalytic effect on the effectiveness of programmes in and through education. Education is a core enabler for sustainable development and is an important lever in Switzerland’s commitment to promote human and economic development, peace and stability. 


Transboundary waters governance for Sustainable Development and Blue Peace

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

With increasing tensions around the rarefication of water, Switzerland, with its central position within the European continent, has chosen the path of regional water cooperation. This programme relies on the synergistic expertise of three international partners. It endorses the approach that increasing regional dialogue and fostering joint management and financing for the shared water resources contributes to socio-economic development and regional stability in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Contribution to the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) - Solidarity Water Europe (SWE)

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2023

The International Secretariat for Water (ISW) supports and empowers civil society and youth to be active, recognized and credible stakeholders in decision-making around water and sanitation. It is recognized for its holistic and participatory approach involving wide networks of partners, including numerous Swiss-based organisations. The contribution aims to strengthen the strategic partnership with ISW in order to remain an efficient and innovative advocate for civil society and youth.


Contr. générale SWP (2019-2021)

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

The Swiss Water Partnership is a multi-stakeholder platform bringing together Swiss organisations from the academic, civil society, public and private sectors, including youth, to join forces and find innovative solutions for water challenges in developing and transition countries. Umbrella of Switzerland water stakeholders at the international level, carrying the diversity of the Swiss voice, the Swiss Water Partnership is a key complementary partner to SDC both in Switzerland and abroad


Ethiopia, UNICEF, Emergency WASH Response for the Reduction of Hunger in Borena Zone, Oromia Region

01.12.2018 - 30.11.2020

The Borena Zone (Oromia Region) hosts one third of Oromia's conflict Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) between Oromo and Somali groups. Water is a priority for conflict IDP sites and local populations. UNICEF, as the lead agency for the WASH sector in development and humanitarian settings, proposes targeted interventions to respond to immediate life-saving needs by improving access to clean and safe drinking water, and support the recovery phase for both IDPs and host communities.


WaSH Support for Rohingya Refugees and Vulnerable Local Communities in Cox’s Bazar District

25.11.2018 - 24.11.2021

Basic services such as infrastructure, health, water, forest and land resources that were available prior to the Rohingya influx in Cox’s Bazar are under strain due to the massive increase in people in the area. The HYSAWA Fund will address the needs and gaps of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, targeting vulnerable host communities and refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar by enhancing capacity of Local Government Institutions. It will apply tools developed in previous Swiss programmes to improve state-citizen relations and relationships between refugees and the host communities.


Water Efficiency in Rice and Cotton

01.11.2018 - 31.12.2022

The public-private-partnership project aims at enhancing smallholder farmers’ income and water productivity in cotton and rice production through improved technologies (PUSH), increased demand of sustainable products by the private sector (PULL) and water stewardship plans (POLICY).
SDC supports a consortium with 20 partners coordinated by HELVETAS in the implementation of the PUSH-PULL-POLICY approach in India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Madagascar.


Blue Peace Index

01.11.2018 - 31.12.2023

Financial investment in sustainable forms of water cooperation remains limited. Switzerland’s expertise on transboundary water management combined with the Economist Intelligence Unit’s understanding of financial investment bear the unique potential to trigger the change by developing a Blue Peace Index. The aim of such an Index is to increase the awareness on the benefits of cooperation and attracting financial resources for sustainable and resilient investment forms for water cooperation ultimately contributing to a more peaceful and stable society.


UNDP – Disaster Risk Management in Cox’s Bazar District

01.11.2018 - 31.10.2020

The location, climate and topography of Cox’s Bazar District makes it vulnerable to tropical cyclones and associated storm surges, flash flooding, and landslides. The influx of the Rohingya refugees have raised the population of an already poor, disaster prone-district to 3.5 million people, requiring significant upgrading of disaster risk management capacities. The project supports a comprehensive approach to developing local capacities and enables risk informed-decision making.


Public Private Development Partnership to improved Plumbing Education in Ukraine

01.10.2018 - 28.02.2023

The mismatch of skills and qualifications with the needs of the economy remains an important cause of low productivity in Ukraine. This Public Private Development Partnership aims at improving the quality and relevance of vocational education and training for plumbers. Improved skills and knowledge tailored to the needs of the market will contribute to increase employability and incomes of young people.

Object 25 – 36 of 104