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NEWS: Business comments on Rio+20 and the right to water

Joppe Cramwinckel, of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, writes in The Guardian that, “The Bonn2011 Conference clearly demonstrated that water, energy and food are inter-related. Producing more food requires more water and energy; many forms of energy production need water, we need water to cool power plants, refine crude oil and produce biofuels. To clean and distribute water we need energy. Managing water poorly can thus have a detrimental impact on energy supplies and agricultural production, and vice versa.”

Cramwinckel argues, “Reusing and recycling human waste and domestic waste water (including nutrient and energy recovery) should also be reflected in the current discussions on the right to water and sanitation. This could foster additional economic incentives for providing these essential services.”

He notes, “I believe water is the lifeblood of a green economy. In a green economy, natural capital is valued as a critical economic asset and also as a source of benefits for the poor. The outcomes of the upcoming Rio conference in 2012 should therefore adequately reflect the interdependencies between water, energy and food as well as their underlying natural resources: water, land and soil. This has not been the case so far as water is not yet on the agenda for Rio – but it should.”

And Cramwinckel recommends, “ 1) Improve data collection and research into the issue of resource management, and in particular with regards to how they are interconnected, to assist in informing policies at all levels. 2) Encourage collaborative and cross-sectoral approaches, as well as public-private collaborations to improve resource management, risk prevention and reduce the footprint of different activities. 3) Increase funding and support for both public and private research in the areas of energy, water and food production.”

What is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development? It is a CEO-led global association of 200 corporations including Coca-Cola, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Walmart. This influential group has previously stated, “Business plays an important role deploying new initiatives which are helping improve access to water and sanitation… (It has launched) the first water tools addressing the industry specific challenges faced by the oil and gas, and power utilities sectors. …To enable business to continue to play an active and affective role in ensuring water, energy and food security and improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation, initiatives like these are essential and will ensure that all stakeholders in sustainable development are able to make meaningful contributions.” More at

The Council of Canadians will intervene at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) – more commonly referred to as Rio+20 – set to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 20-22, 2012. To reflect our work in this area, we have launched a new campaign web-page at