Determining the future of water in South Africa | WWF

Determining the future of water in South Africa

Posted on
22 March 2017
With South Africa still recovering from the effects of last year’s devastating drought as well as recent floods, concerns are growing about how the country will cope in the future as climate change is only going to make the situation worse by exacerbating the impact of both droughts and floods.
 
Looking ahead, WWF South Africa recently teamed up with international leaders in scenario planning, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), to explore possible water futures through scenario planning – a powerful tool to help individuals, companies and governments stretch their thinking as well as assist leaders to tackle uncertainty in what lies ahead.
 
Following a workshop with representatives from government, industry and civil society, WWF and BCG published a thought-provoking report Scenarios for the Future of Water in South Africa.
 
“In our complex world, we cannot predict with confidence where we will end up. However, our discussions showed that – whether we move towards strong governance and a growing economy or end up with supplies failing under climate change and crumbling governance – there are actions we could take now that would prepare us better for all eventualities,” said Christine Colvin, WWF-SA Senior Advisor for Freshwater.
 
Organisations can use the scenarios to consider what part they can play to help South Africa overcome the current crisis, as well as prepare for and even shape the future of water security in South Africa.
 
“We encourage all organisations to immerse themselves in this report and to carefully consider each potential reality before considering how they might prepare, and most critically, what they could do differently today,” said Colvin.
 
The scenario process explored two key uncertainties in South Africa’s water future – the availability of water and the state of water governance – that will help to shape the country’s water future.
 
And faced with a variety of vastly different potential water futures, the report calls for collective action to deliver on four goals: become a water-conscious country with sufficient knowledge and skills in the water sector; implement strong water governance; manage water supply and demand regulations and protect water resources; and become a smart water economy.
 
Indeed, there are real opportunities for South Africa to take steps that other water stressed nations on the continent could follow.
 
“There are real opportunities for South Africa to lead Africa in the transition towards a water-smart economy, with new technologies and enterprise innovations that ensure our water security,” said Colvin.
 
“But we need to take decisive steps now, and not wait until the next drought.”
 
Scenarios for the future of water in South Africa
© WWF-SA / BCG
Introduction to Scenarios on the future of water in South Africa by WWF-SA and BCG
© Scott Ramsay