Response to LinkedIn Pulse Post
Coro Strandberg ... It's time for transformational corporate water leadership ... March 8, 2015
See the Pulse post here ... https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-time-transformational-corporate-water-leadership-coro-strandberg
Burgess comment ... March 8, 2015
Yes ... there is a need for transformational leadership, but not only for water, but for a rather long list of critical issues that include water.
I have tried to speak out against single issue initiatives after work I did decades ago looking at the performance of international development assistance projects for the World Bank, the UN and various bilateral aid agencies. A focus on a single issue rarely makes a difference unless the surrounding enabling environment is functional.
That is not to say that water is not an important issue, but that the solution to water issues must be put in context. I recently heard a high profile water expert observe that it is not economical to move water around the world which, I would argue, is patently untrue, but totally believable if you have never been near death because of lack of water. Total lack of water kills in just a few (3) days, and in these situations water has an enormous value. The UN emergency operations routinely airlifts water when death is imminent, but modern global leadership will not invest in critical and immensely valuable water infrastructure because in general, this leadership has never been anyway near drought and death.
I was glad to see reference to the supply chain in this piece, but disappointed not to see discussion of the variability of the importance of the water issue depending on location. In some places there is adequate water for profligate use without undesirable consequences, but in other places water is scarce and not enough for all the important needs. For water ... place matters ... together with the size of the population in the place.
But there is a bigger systemic dysfunction that applies to water and a lot of other things that are immensely valuable, but not part of the dominant money based value system and therefore easy to ignore ... at any rate, for those with wealth and power. I argue that the system of metrics we are using is dangerously outdated and in need of radical reform to make it useful for the 21st century. We need a way to quantify the value of water ... and the value of everything else that has importance with respect to quality of life, on the broader society and the impact on the environment in the broadest sense.
My work on the design and development of Multi Dimension Impact Accounting (MDIA) is an attempt to pull all of these things together ... and yes, MDIA has water as a key piece of the puzzle that needs transformational leadership. See http://www.truevaluemetrics.org/index.php