Something happens when teenagers, thinking so soon about their future, change the classroom on the street and urge us to adopt urgent measures on the consequences of climate change: they think about their future and they cry for our responsibility. Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish girl, it has become the symbol of a generation who fears for his future, demands solutions and confronts us with our obligations with a deep reflection: what world are we going to leave? It is part of a youth that will be marked by water scarcity, extreme climatic phenomena, biodiversity crisis and atmospheric pollution, to the point of reaching a point of no return that tells us that it is necessary to cooperate to share the planet's resources in a balanced way . We have no excuse and hardly time to rectify.
The days of Fridays for Future They have coincided with the Nairobi summit of the United Nations on climate change whose conclusion is devastating: the state of the environment has continued to deteriorate throughout the world. The protest of the youth is an alarm and the final report disturbing. We are walking towards non-compliance with the Paris agreements. It gives the impression that we were postponing the future. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations -in which water plays a transversal role-, signed by 195 countries, are, in fact, a pact between generations to protect the planet and change a productive model that devours natural resources. They proposed goals that are starting to be late to reach. Now it seems that very soon it was already too late.
Without leaving anyone behind, the slogan chosen by the United Nations for the World Water Day held this Friday, is a good opportunity to advocate, each from his position, so that the ambition and scope present in the enactment of the Sustainable Development Goals remain intact.
The idea of an uncertain climate future is not encouraging for anyone, even less for those who have barely cleared the horizon the next day. We have to find common spaces of collaboration between administrations, companies and civil society that propitiate a collective solution on which the humanity's tomorrow depends.
Globality has brought us great advantages, but it has also generated uncertainties: we will be 10,000 million inhabitants by 2050 in a basically urban world that will consume, in just 10 years, 50% more energy and food and 30% more water from what is currently spent. From the water sector we are already helping to respond, building resilient cities, naturalized infrastructures or developing tools so that no one is left out of access to water and sanitation.
These are times of change and in the change we find reasons for a moderate optimism that we have to take advantage of. Communication becomes the exercise of observation and dialogue; Innovation is an element of survival. Given the evident delay that we carry out in the fulfillment of the SDGs, we must raise the next months, as a turning point, a moment that allows us to unite wills and re-merge in the road map in a choral way. If not, we will be late to face the horizon of 2050, when Greta Thunberg turns 50: "They tell us that we are young, but there is no time to wait for us to grow up and take charge". They are asking us for help in the face of an uncertain destiny!
The COP 25 in Chile will be a great opportunity for companies to take center stage
The month of December in Chile, where the COP 25 (United Nations Assembly on Climate Change) will meet, we will have a new opportunity to rethink, reconsider and put on the table the urgency in the alignment of all the parties and the importance of the public-private collaboration as an instrument to combat inequalities on the planet. It will also be a great opportunity for the Spanish business world to assume a leading role in a space of great influence that is estimated at 750 million Spanish speakers at mid-century. An opportunity that we can not lose, given the projection and influence of our country in the American continent, the weight of the 2030 Agenda in the definition of our development as a country and the growing confidence in the role of companies. Precisely, our activity in Santiago de Chile has meant to make the metropolis the first in Latin America to purify 100% of wastewater. There, in addition, we have launched what we have called biofactories : the evolution of wastewater treatment plants towards a circular economy model with zero pollution, zero waste and energy self-sufficiency, a model that is also being implemented in Granada or Barcelona.
At the global level, the United Nations believes that progress is too slow to achieve the goals. It is imperative in any case to consider a horizon; know where we want to go and in what terms. To do this, we must be willing to promote a project that generates hope for society, mobilizing public and private initiative, institutions, civil society, businesses, academia and associations, aware that we must adopt decisions whose effects will be measured in the next decades. These are measures to eradicate hunger and poverty, improve health and education, build more sustainable cities and cope with climate change. Beyond a duty, it is an ethical responsibility. We can no longer think only of the productive model, but also of the social model. We are obliged to plan a global management in which the vast majority of humanity has the right to participate in the banquet of nature, putting all the means and knowledge so that no one is left behind.
Companies have to be able to establish a new way of relating to our environment, generating confidence, collaborating in development without mortgaging the future. We must investigate to find sustainable solutions. It is an exercise of responsibility that concerns us all, fleeing from the urgencies and laying the foundations to preserve the collective heritage, improve efficiency to protect resources, provide solutions and plan for the future. If we are able to build a model of sustainable development, water will not only be the factor that has marked inequality between peoples, but also become an element of equality and well-being. Our children will thank you. And, much more, our grandchildren. Both of us demand it from us.
Angel Simón He is executive vice president of Suez, in charge of Spain, Ibero-America and North America.