Letter of Brasília 2015

WATER SECURITY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Water Security is imperative in promoting sustainable development.

 

The guarantee of water in an adequate quantity and quality for use as water be it for human, economic and ecosystem uses – and the prevention and the response to extreme hydrological events – droughts and floods – are basic conditions for the development of society, the same also being intrinsic dimensions to water safety.

 

Water safety must be achieved through the integrated management of water resources in their multiple dimensions: supply management, demand management and conflict management.

 

Infrastructure regarding the storage and transfer of water plays a very important role in reducing the impact of climate variability. Reservoirs have an essential role to play so that water is not so scarce in the dry season and not so plentiful during the floods. The construction and efficient operation of reservoirs have a singular importance in this context.

 

The safety of water works is essential. The Dams Safety Act must be rigorously observed and instruments which give it greater effectiveness should be implemented, developed and improved, such as inspection mechanisms, adequate maintenance and operation of dams and contingency plans for accidents. The naturalization of technological accidents, and as such human accidents, jeopardize the incentive mechanisms which promote the safety of the water works.

 

Ecosystem services are guarantors of water in quantity and quality. They reduce social costs by, for example, promoting self-purification of water courses and mitigating erosion. The protection, preservation and conservation of aquatic and riparian ecosystems are objectives of enormous priority in the management of water resources.

 

So as to achieve water security effective Management as to the Demand and Water Resource Conflicts is required. Demand management should use administrative controls and economic incentives to achieve the rational use of water. In this sense, the improvement and adoption of rights-of-use mechanisms, such as grants, and economic mechanisms, such as charging for the use of water, should be carried out. The process of water allocation is a privileged area for the promotion of these mechanisms.

 

The Water Safety Plans focus on reducing the structural vulnerability of water resource systems in the long term. The reduction of water risks, object of these plans, is associated with a financial cost of implementing same. There is a limit to the resources that society wishes to allocate or that they can use to reduce the risk of the systems, always with a residual risk of failure associated with extreme hydrological events.
The management of extreme events of floods and droughts is of complementary dimension to the implementation of the water security structuring plans. Flood Contingency Plans are desirable in this context and should be drawn up in effective articulation between federal, state and municipal public authorities.

 

Occurrences of drought that impact different Brazilian regions and social segments demonstrate the need to progress in the construction of a Drought Management Policy for Brazil. The improvement of drought monitoring methods and systems, as well as the elaboration of Proactive Drought Management Plans, is a decisive step in mitigating the impacts of droughts on the economy and on the quality of life of the Brazilian population.

 

The quality of the response given by the Water Resources Management System to the challenge of water security has not been homogeneous throughout the country. Old conceptual and operational challenges were replaced with new strength and vitality, among them: (i) shared water management in rivers which cross state borders and their dual dominance; (ii) improvement and qualification of the process of public participation in the construction of effective responses to droughts and floods; (iii) drought management and water allocation in recent years, and (iv) contingency of public resources intended for water resources policy.

 

A diagnosis of the response capacity of the water resources system in the context of the actual water crisis should be carried out with a view to identifying improvements and adjustments in the path to be trodden. This effort should not be reserved only to the agents responsible for implementing the water policy or to economic agents who are users of the water. The technical and scientific community should make intense efforts in this direction.

 

It is necessary to have caution with regards to changes in legal framework in the area of ​​water resources, political process which always entails the risk of setbacks. An eventual process of this nature should be based on rigorous diagnosis, proving its necessity, and should be subsidized by adequate technical foundation. In this context, it is essential to emphasize that the system should seek efficiency and effectiveness of its actions and, therefore, should converge towards a greater focus on the results and not only on the processes.

 

The intense criticisms made nowadays as to the performance of the National Water Resources Management System should be taken into account by the different agents of the System, but a more pertinent assessment should consider not only the performance of the System today, but also the probable present day result, in the area of water resources, in the hypothesis of the System not having been implemented.
Particularly, in the current context of the economic crisis, it is essential to preserve resources originating from the system itself, which are neither taxes nor public fees, so that there be no interruption in processes and activities which are by nature continuous and of long-term results.

 

An important role should be reserved for young people in the management of water resources. The “children” of Eco 1992 and the Water Law of 1997 have grown up and demand that the ABRHidro renew its commitments with Brazil and with the Planet. The National Youth Parliament for Water (PNJA), created on the initiative of ABRHidro, is a significant step towards the participation of young people in decision-making.
The creation of the PNJA seeks to guarantee the participation of a network of young transformers and knowledge facilitators, who are engaged in the cooperative construction of a culture of sustainability, who have made themselves available for a continuous learning and represent, in a critical and emancipatory manner, the present and future generations, in building better perspectives for all, understanding water as a common good, which needs to be preserved and taken care of. The PNJA calls on the Brazilian society to sign an intergenerational pact of care, cooperation, solidarity and sustainability in the management of water resources.

 

The challenges of the Water Resources Management System are growing in the context of a world in change. Climate change and changes in land use, due to the processes of economic and cultural globalization and urbanization, lead to greater uncertainty and, consequently, impose greater complexity on the management of water resources. Strategy for adaptive management of water resources, with a special focus on risk management, must be built. The construction of this strategy is a challenge to knowledge. Paradigms, such as the Stationarity of hydrological processes, should be revisited. New tools of management, such as insurances, should be evaluated.

 

The challenge of knowledge requires a Science, Technology and Innovation Policy which is adequate and instigating. The ABRHidro should work on building a CT&I agenda for the area of water resources which adheres to the present day challenges and propose it to decision-makers in the areas of water resources and CT&I, among others. The community of water resources needs to increase its influence in the institutions relating to the management and promotion of research, teaching and action, with a view to promoting the necessary priority of the theme “water” in these institutions.