Sustainable water supplies are critical for human development, large industries and small business alike, but addressing South Africa’s water risks requires a partnership approach that is currently in its infancy. For companies, many of their major water risks lie outside of their operational boundaries. For many municipalities, localised challenges and limited financial and human resources often constrain their ability to address growing infrastructure and consumer needs.
The private sector has significant capacity and expertise that can (and arguably must) be employed in partnership with the public sector to address the systemic risks facing the water sector, in support of long-term sustainable water supplies. This is particularly the case given that South Africa has yet to achieve universal access to basic water and sanitation, is experiencing rising per capita demand for water, and the country’s water resources and water security remains vulnerable to a changing climate.
Ultimately, what is arguably required is a solid partnership framework that encourages collaboration based on shared stakeholder risk, and the subsequent creation of shared value between the public sector, private sector and civil society. Partnerships of this nature have already commenced in South Africa, most notably under the banner of ‘corporate water stewardship’, but require increased scale and replicability across different regions in order to build long-term sustainability.
In this next segment of the Infrastructure Dialogues, we will unpack a number of the innovative water services partnerships underway in South Africa, in which government, the private sector and civil society are actively engaged in collaborative planning and implementation. Key components of this Infrastructure Dialogue will consist of:
- Understanding the concept of water stewardship and its applicability within South Africa, based on relevant examples
- Assessing innovative financing and procurement arrangements that can apply to both water services infrastructure development and the facilitation of ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M)
- Considering the role of ecological infrastructure in supporting sustainable water supplies, and the associated financing of ecosystem services
Long-term viability of water supply is a precursor for economic development and sustainable livelihoods at a national scale. Please join us for this Infrastructure Dialogue as we look to identify innovative partnership-based solutions that can be scaled over time to support water security in South Africa.
The Infrastructure Dialogues are hosted jointly by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the South African Cities Network, the National Business Initiative, the Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Department in the Presidency, and the Department of Economic Development, with the Engineering News as Media Sponsor. This will be the 40th Dialogue held since 2009.