Wat water waard is

SINGAPORE/ATLANTA – Begin 19e eeuw schreef Lord Byron in Don Juan dat “Till taught by pain, men really know not what good water’s worth” (“Totdat de nood aan de man komt, weet de mensheid niet wat goed water waard is”). Bijna tweehonderd jaar later lijkt de mensheid die waarde van water nog steeds niet in te zien, te oordelen naar decennia van slecht waterbeheer vrijwel overal ter wereld. Maar de dreigende watercrisis kan steeds moeilijker worden genegeerd – vooral door degenen die nu al de gevolgen ervan ondergaan.

De eerlijkheid gebiedt te zeggen dat er de afgelopen jaren wel enige verbeteringen op het gebied van het waterbeheer hebben plaatsgevonden. Maar dat is maar mondjesmaat gebeurd, en in een veel te traag tempo om het probleem effectief te kunnen aanpakken.

Om het proces op gang te helpen doen grote multinationale bedrijven als Nestlé, Coca-Cola, SABMiller en Unilever – die tegenover hun beleggers al lange tijd de nadruk leggen op het probleem dat waterschaarste met zich meebrengt voor hun ondernemingen, om maar te zwijgen van de gemeenschappen waarin zij opereren – hun best om de verkrijgbaarheid, kwaliteit en duurzaamheid van water te verbeteren. Voor hun succes zal een innovatieve strategie nodig zijn die vastgeroeste veronderstellingen over – en benaderingen van – watergerelateerde problemen op zijn kop zet.

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