The following is a statement from Claudia Sadoff, Director General, IWMI in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Covid-19 virus, like nothing that has gone before, has revealed how destructive disturbances to the systems that hold our globalized world together can be.
As our research teams at IWMI work together with our partners to understand the implications of the pandemic we cannot help but note the degree to which water is a central part of these systems and has critical implications for both the effectiveness of Covid-19 response efforts and for reconstructing growth and building resilience in a post-pandemic world.
IWMI’s vision is for a water secure world. But, as the pandemic continues its march into the poorer parts of the planet, the distance from that vision is brought into sharp focus. Billions of people do not have access to the safe water that is the primary line of defense against the virus.
Covid-19 is shining a harsh spotlight on the inequalities, hardships and health risks that result from our failure to uphold the human right to water and sanitation. Robust water and sanitation systems are essential investments for human health and well-being under any circumstances.
And, as we move towards recovery, water management must reinforce the stability of food systems. Among the most critical priorities will be securing irrigation for disrupted agricultural cycles while meeting basic domestic needs and mitigating the risks of simultaneous shocks. Floods and droughts, unfortunately, cannot be put on hold for the duration of the pandemic.
While the climate crisis remains the primary global threat, our understanding of the need for resilient systems is sharpened with the current threat posed by Covid-19. Our future work must be governed by this deeper understanding of the value of resilience and the complex interconnected and interdependent systems that direct our lives and the economy. In creating strategies for reconstructing growth in the post-pandemic world, we will need to be systems-minded not single-minded.
The pandemic has shown that building resilience at all levels – in communities, countries and globally – must work for a broad spectrum of systemic risks related to health, food systems, climate change, nature, energy and finance. It is vital not to lose sight, now, that water connects all of these. The fabric of water security is created by weaving together effective governance, knowledge and skills, connectivity across systems, and investment in and application of infrastructure, technologies and services from ecosystems.
At IWMI, and across CGIAR, we work with our partners on strengthening each of these components and ensuring they are used in concert to reinforce resilience. We are optimistic that the science and capabilities from water management will support and enable the transformations that will be needed – for resilience across systems – in the post-pandemic world.
I have been inspired by efforts across CGIAR and the wider development community to mobilise resources to meet the challenges of these unprecedented times. I am grateful for this sense of community as we stand together and recognize the importance of global collaboration to meet global challenges.
In closing, I share on behalf of all of my IWMI colleagues our best wishes for the safety and good health of each of you, your family and friends. Together we will face down the challenges of this pandemic and continue to work together towards our shared goals.
Claudia Sadoff, Director General, IWMI
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