Matt Damon from Davos 2014 Water without doubt one of the greatest priorities of our time

By Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

29 January 2014 See comments (4)

Matt Damon
WEF CRYSTAL AWARD: Matt Damon at Davos.

This is my last post from Davos 2014, it is about another highly encouraging part of the water discussion there this year. My post is looking back to the main exchange on water set up for the 2030 Water Resources Group. The purpose of this meeting was to exchange ideas and experiences with other people active in the water area; Matt Damon joined in his capacity as founder of

Last week I reported on how Matt received the WEF Crystal Award for his great commitment and work on water. He did not leave after receiving this highly deserved recognition at the first day of the 2014 Annual Meeting, but stayed for other sessions, listened and explained.

I took some notes of what he said at our 2030 WRG meeting. I’ve added quotation marks to my summary, because it is his words that I want to see reflected in my report today:

‘It’s a great honor for to join this incredible conversation with many of the world’s experts. All of you know the grim reality of still close to 800 million people on the planet without access to clean water – a reality that I would argue we simply cannot accept as global citizens.

‘While much progress has been achieved over the years, with the global population set to increase from 7 to 9 billion by 2050, it’s clear that we are heading towards even greater competition for precious and scarce water resources. Basic human drinking needs will be compounded by the growing water demand for food production and to generate energy needed for economic growth to ensure prosperity for everyone. I applaud the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report for ranking water security as the number three top global risks for the third year in a row. In my mind it is without doubt one of the greatest priorities of our time. We must rally to end this crisis once for all.

‘Today’s session with the people gathered here convinced me that there is no shortage of commitment and leadership, knowledge and expertise to successfully tackle this issue. My partner Gary White and I co-founded several years ago, but he has been dedicated to this work for almost three decades. While we all may have our own projects and initiatives in which we are involved, what unites us all is a common passion in attacking the water challenge broadly, and the human crisis specifically.

‘Being part of today, I am reminded of a quote from C.S. Lewis who said: “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to sit in a circle of those who are.” For me, one of these circles is today here in this room.

‘The key question for me as we close this session, however, is how we collectively sustain this energy beyond Davos and channel it into action.

‘We heard about the power of partnerships and collaboration today.

‘But I also hope that next year here in Davos we could celebrate a global sustainable development goal on water, including universal water access and sanitation by 2030. We can look for successful models that are enabling governments and respecting all people as customers and citizens with rights to access basic and quality services. We recognise that it is complex and it will require us to think about water holistically. But this is all within reach. I and the other members of our team in are so excited to join you all in that next chapter.”

  1. Richard Mackie @ Nestle

    29 Jan 2014 - 16:44 (GMT)

    The commitment to the issue of making water available to all by not only large companies but also private individuals like Mr Damon is to be roundly applauded.
    Mr Brabeck's Water Challlenge blog I find every informative

  2. Anja Anastasja Keller @ Oeconomicae Research

    04 Feb 2014 - 20:12 (GMT)

    Dear Peter,

    Yes, it has to be the highest priority in our agenda and also the related innovation to improve water efficiency will play an important role. It depends on new innovation and how the global leaders implement it. It depends on each global leader to take innovation proposal seriously.

    I hope you received my master thesis in water efficiency innovation (Sustainability: The Water Challenges). There are solution in particular in the agriculture sector to improve food production in shorter time by less water consumption.

    Water scarcity will lead to increased water conflicts. Ethical dilemmas will be faced, such as having the right of access to water or having the right to produce food. It will become even more important to have highly committed partnerships with national government, international donors and development banks. These will appear in policy reforms and agricultural research to transform the management of irrigation and water supplies urgently to guarantee a sustainable water access and affordable food prices.

    Innovation to enhance cropland production will be key investments to ensure a sustainable development in the environment. There are without a doubt countless ideas about how we might improve water efficiency throughout the world. Nevertheless, not every idea will actually be implemented, and not every water efficiency innovation will be launched successfully.

    The objective of the thesis is to develop a business model for an innovative water-storage technology to promote a sustainable environment. This innovation is designed to improve the water-storage potential and to reduce water evaporation.

    The innovative green technology is an ecologically friendly product and based on a formulation of white powder that turns to a solid gel-like substance when water is applied. It can absorb up to 500 times its own weight in water and then release it gradually, acting as a steady supply of moisture as the soil requires. Superabsorbent polymers (SAP) are cross-linked polymers of acrylic acid, which consist of chemical or biological Cilium sodium. Due to the Molecular structure, the plant will only absorb the water, so there is no danger of taking a chemical substance into the plant.

    From an economic point of view and based on the agriculture research, even a high dose of SAP of 1.75 g per cabbage provided an additional profit of Indian Rupee (INR) 25’500 which is approx. USD 415 per hectare. However, as there is a wide range of different soil, climate and plant it requires a prototype testing on the yield before determining the appropriate process for larger scale agriculture because of different results in different natural conditions.

    Global Leaders - Act for the Global environment to ensure human rights for water and food.

    Kind regards,

    Anja Anastasja Keller

  3. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestlé

    20 Feb 2014 - 17:43 (GMT)

    @ Anja Anastasja Keller. Dear Anja, thanks for the excellent comments, and sorry for a late reply; I was travelling. As you point out, we will be facing ethical dilemmas between responding to municipal water needs and water needs to grow our food. By the way, there is already a dilemma we are in today: water for human use versus water for the environments. The drying lakes Aral and Chad are only one sign for this. As you indicate in your master thesis, in most countries a big part, or even the biggest part of a solution has to come from increased water efficiency in agriculture, it is the biggest user of water and we know that freshwater withdrawals for agriculture are some 200-250% of the physiological need of plants. But we have to do it in a cost effective, no-piecemeal approach as proposed by the 2030 Water Resources Group cost curve:“WRG-cost-curve”.aspx#.UwYuD2J_uSo. I am sure your proposals would fit into the curve of cost-effective solutions perfectly well. Regards, Peter

  4. bouhedli mohamed nassim @ dz

    12 Mar 2014 - 17:01 (GMT)

    it's good post thanks

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