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SA Government and Private Sector Form Water Partnership at COP17

6 December 2011

Johannesburg. 6 December 2011. The Minister of Water Affairs, Honourable Edna Molewa, this week launched an innovative partnership between the South African government and private sector at COP 17 during a session of the World Economic Forum on water as a key focus area of adapting to climate change in the country. The aim is to enhance the coordination of efforts to close the water volume gap in the country by 2030.

The Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) - South Africa, which held its inaugural meeting on 15 November 2011, is a joint effort by the public and private sector, with the assistance of international partners including the Water Resource Group, World Economic Forum, International Finance Corporation and the World Bank Group to shape and test concepts as well as governance processes which can close future water volume gaps.

The SWPN currently comprises of pioneer partners including the Department of Water Affairs, Water Resources Group, World Economic Forum, Anglo American, Coca-Cola, Eskom, Nestle, South African Breweries (SAB) and Sasol.

The South African network is organised into three working groups responsible for Water Use Efficiency / Leakage Reduction, Supply Chain / Agriculture and Effluent Partnerships with secretariat support from the NEPAD Business Foundation. Within these groups, the SWPN is identifying projects, best practices and recommending strategies to overcome challenges to replicate projects and improve the widespread adoption of water solutions. There is also active participation from the DBSA, National Planning Commission and the Water Research Commission.

A private session at COP 17 in Durban on Monday, 5 December, the SWPN South Africa, along with various stakeholders, will explore practical examples of public-private strategies that have been implemented in India, Mexico, and Jordan to transform their water sectors. These strategies, which the SWPN will review, aim to use water resources more efficiently, adapt to the impacts of climate change and meet the needs to sustain economic growth and social development.

The Acting DG of Water Affairs, Mr Trevor Balzer views this partnership as a crucial component of the South African water resources strategy. "The commitment which the private and public sectors continue to show reflects consciousness to climate and water resource challenges faced by the nation, and dedication towards a joint solution. The SWPN provides a platform to a variety of sectoral partners for collaboration, discussion and implementation of key projects that have the potential to effectively close our water volume gap" he said.

Andre Fourie, Head of Sustainable Development at SAB, who is funding the initial phase of the network in South Africa, said, "It is the goal of the SWPN to build a leadership group to collaborate on an on-going basis with Government to seek innovative joint solutions that support the implementation of Government water strategies and overall water security for South Africa. This is part of SAB's water stewardship strategy to reduce the amount of water used to brew beer while also investing in our supply chain and the watersheds we operate."

At a global level, SABMiller, SAB's parent company, is an active supporter of the Water Resources Group and has established a Water Futures Partnership with WWF and the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ). The Water Futures' approach is aimed at facilitating collaboration amongst different water stakeholders to promote sustainable management of water resources. A local version of this partnership is focused on understanding and managing the water risks in the hops growing area of George as well as in building a partnership with the Polokwane municipality on improving the quality of waste water and effluent in the area.

Ms Edna Molewa extends an invitation to public, private and civil society sector players in the water environment to form part of this initiative to contribute their skill, technology, expertise and projects towards finding a way to close the water gap. This, she believes, will lead to a comprehensive public-private solution to South Africa's water challenge.

Ends

For further information, media queries or to join this initiative please contact the Secretariat: NEPAD Business Foundation, Leon Gouws at +27 87310 1897 and on email leon.gouws@thenbf.co.za or Watson Hamunakwadi at +27 87310 1899 and on email info@thenbf.co.za.

This is a SABMiller subsidiary news release, it was first published in its local market on 06/12/2011.

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