We are starting our new blogging series/commitment by giving you a blog post once a month. These blog posts will hopefully provide you with fact, figures, and knowledge about a variety of issues that align with Yuhme and our mission. In case you have forgotten our mission- Yuhme stands for You Us Humanity Me Environment. Meaning our cornerstones are Humanity, Environment and you the Consumer. More often than not these blog posts will be centered around an expert that will be interviewed by us.
So first out is Jon Allen- he is the COO of Water for Good and has worked for the organization since 2009. He was just over in Stockholm for World Water Week. An extremely important week in our line of work and we wanted to share some of his insights that happened over there with you guys!
- What is World Water Week & what was the theme this year?
World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It is organized by SIWI. In 2018, World Water Week addressed the theme “Water, ecosystems and human development”. In 2017, over 3,300 individuals and around 380 convening organizations from 135 countries participated in the Week, and there was similar representation this year. This was my first year attending, and it was really encouraging to be around so many colleagues focused on the same objectives!
- What was the most hopeful & inspirational initiative you encountered?
For me personally, I had a really encouraging time growing stronger collaboration with organizations focused on using private sector solutions to help make sustainable, long-term impact in clean water access.
- What is the goal of World Water Week?
It is all about managing water as a critical resource. They state the goal as, “Experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries come to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today. We believe water is key to our future prosperity, and that together, we can achieve a water wise world” Having such a diversity of stakeholders there really helps spur new ways of thinking.
- Who was the most impactful person you met or listened to?
Catarina Fonseca from IRC is always motivating and challenging the sector to think about the system-wide costs of reaching SDG6… it’s not just the cost of a drilling a new well! We have to include the lifecycle costs of operations, maintenance, major repairs, and the system that manages planning and expansion of services. She has been an innovator and advocate on this topic for a long time. She emphasizes that there is no clear way to cover these costs and end water poverty with the current funding mechanisms, so innovation is critical.
I also had some really exciting conversations with some folks from Oxford working on financing concepts, and the managing director at Vergnet / Uduma about some exciting initiatives regarding social enterprise systems in rural water supply management.
- What was your mission at World Water Week?
This was my first time going to World Water Week. I wanted to really use the face-to-face opportunity to build relationships with other sector leaders, many of them I had gotten to know from other conferences or other networks. It is a good opportunity to grow the way you think and approach your job when you have experts from so many other contexts together discussing what works and what doesn’t. I also always get excited to share with others about the work Water for Good is doing in the Central African Republic. Fragile states are not only critical to reaching SDG6, but critical to alleviating extreme poverty in general. Giving a voice to the people of this country is so important as it often slips out of the public eye.
- What was the top message you brought back with you that can share with the masses so that we all can try and do our part?
The water sector is moving forward, but to hit the SDGs, we need everyone to play their part and to continue to innovative to help make change happen in the poorest and most complex countries. Private philanthropy from individual and socially conscious enterprises like Yuhme is key to unlocking and complimenting other financing mechanisms, such as impact investment and ODA financing. This will be more and more important to allow for creative solutions in the poorest of contexts such as CAR.
SDG6 Footnote - https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/
IRC Footnote - https://www.ircwash.org/home
John Allen interviewed by Alexandra Nash