WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) are essential in promoting sustainable development in an ever changing world.
It is the challenge of ST&I to guarantee the conditions so that society has an adequate quantity and quality of water for different uses and functions – human, economic and eco-systemic – and that there be adequate prevention and response to extreme hydrological events – droughts, floods and landslides.
The solution of problems related to water resources requires the production of new knowledge and technologies, as well as their development in order to innovate methods, processes and products to deal with the complexity, uncertainties and conflicts that are intrinsic to socio-natural processes characteristic of water systems. This demand intensifies in the context of globalization, of a Knowledge Based Society and of the ongoing transformations associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which brings the digital, physical and biological worlds closer together, creating a new social and technological context.
In this context, investment in ST&I becomes ever more essential for sustainable development and for Brazil’s insertion in a more competitive world. The existence of a specific ministry for the ST&I topic, the strengthening of agencies for the promotion of research and the construction of a vigorous funding policy in ST&I are of great importance.
Contrasting with these needs is the current treatment given to the Sectorial Fund of Water Resources. Relevant installments of the allocated resources for the Fund are deferred. The deference of these financial resources limits the development of the area of water resources and compromises the future of the area and that of Brazil.
The construction and implementation of a financing policy for the area of water resources is necessary. The Water Resources area must mobilize itself for the building of this policy and to galvanize the social and political support necessary to overcome this present challenge. The National Water Resources Council and the National Water Agency must play an important role in building a broad national discussion and mobilization on the subject, articulating the various collegiate forums and institutions for the elaboration and mediation of these demands together with the country’s ST&I system.
With regard to the protection of water sources and water security in metropolitan areas, it is apparent that the management of water resources in metropolitan areas takes place in an environment of great social and economic complexity, recognized by the recent Metropolis Statute, which promotes the shared use of space and natural resources, among them water. Such complexity represents political, economic and technical challenges, at the same time as it offers great opportunities for adapting to global change and making these spaces more resilient and sustainable.
The instrument for the “Framework of Water Bodies” continues to encounter difficulties as to its implementation. These are difficulties of a methodological nature, as to understanding about the scope of the instrument and the articulation between the areas of water resources and the environment. So as to overcome these difficulties, it is necessary to invest more in SINGREH’s training so as to deal with the framing instrument as well as working to improve the Joint Resolution CONAMA – CNRH which deals with the subject.
With regard to the charging instrument for the use of water resources, it is necessary to establish policies that promote the use of economic instruments that encourage the implementation of technologies and good practices for the rational use of water resources.
The application of water resources management tools requires basic training in hydrology and hydraulics. In this context, there is the necessary to continue the training of hydrology technicians as well as the training of professionals in the area of hydraulics, whose response to the demand of higher education institutions and hydraulic structure projects has been insufficient in number, including the confrontation of the technical and financial challenges relating to effective management of urban waters in medium and small sized municipalities.
Another aspect that demands significant investment in the capacity building of the SINGREH is related to dam safety. Considering the number of dams in Brazil, their configurations, the cascade effect and the incipience of the safety management system, there is an urgent need to train professionals who can respond appropriately to the demands of the sector, in order to reduce the risk of disasters. There is also a need to improve the regulatory framework for dam management in the SINGREH.
Despite the need to improve the institutional environment to give leverage to and to accelerate the necessary investments in basic sanitation, the proposed Provisional Measure in public debate has important repercussions on the management of water resources, principally the linkage of the regulation of one the water user sectors to ANA – Agência Nacional de Águas (National Water Agency). This may weaken the structure of the Country’s Water Resources Management System.
The regulation functions of basic sanitation services can not be confused with the primary functions of water allocation in order to guarantee its multiple uses. On the other hand, the financial balance between union, states and municipalities must be maintained, such as the distribution of financial compensation.
The XXII Symposium of the Brazilian Association of Water Resources, while recognizing the important advances in the management of water resources in Brazil since the adoption of Law 9433/1997, considers it as appropriate and necessary to promote a process of improvement of the legal and institutional framework of the national water system management of water resources, without altering the principles and foundations of the National Water Resources Policy, taking into consideration the reflections and contributions offered by the Legacy Project, coordinated by ANA, as well as the opportunities to mobilize society and political actors with the undertaking of the VIII World Water Forum in Brasilia, in 2018.
The World Water Forum and its associated meetings will be an environment of experience exchange among people, regions, productive sectors, traditional communities and others, which make for an important opportunity to search for and qualify solutions for water-related problems throughout the world. The network of contacts, of studies and of discussions, involving people, institutions and Brazilian organizations, will constitute a legacy of the Forum process.
It will be an opportunity to put the theme “WATER” at the top of the political agenda, in a qualified way, also acting as an element of behavioral change in different segments and a change in the perception of society as with regards to the issue of water resources.
Those are the reflections and contributions that the Brazilian Association of Water Resources registers in this Charter Letter of Florianópolis, addressing the Brazilian society, with whom it shares the celebrations of its 40 years in existence and uninterrupted activities.
Florianópolis, 30th November, 2017