Water is life’s most precious and necessary resource. As South Africa faces a water crisis, with the Western Cape bearing the brunt of the drought in a country that is already water-scarce, what led to this situation and which lessons can be implemented going forward?

“In 2002 South Africa became water constrained when the National Water Resource Strategy announced that we had allocated 98% of our water,” says multiple award-winning scientist, Dr Anthony Turton who is set to speak at this year’s Sustainability Week 2018 Water Seminar. “In 2014 we became capital constrained when our Foreign Direct Investment became negative in response to Marikana, and the Bell Pottinger campaign against White Monopoly Capital [also played a part]. We need to grow the economy by 6% just to employ the 26 million Born Frees, and this has to happen in an economy that is both water and capital constrained. This is our collective challenge,” Dr Turton explains.

The first step towards meeting this challenge is making a mental paradigm shift – from scarcity to abundance. This is according to Benoît le Roy, CEO of Water Shortage South Africa, another renowned speaker on the Sustainability Week 2018 agenda, taking place on Thursday, 07 June 2018 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Tshwane.

“The Paradigm of Scarcity is based on the concept of water as a stock and cost problem to be avoided or minimized,” says Le Roy. “The Paradigm of Abundance, on the other hand, is based on the known chemistry and physics of water as a flux that moves in time and space. Water in this view is an infinitely renewable resource, so the only constraint is our institutional capacity to attract capital and technology.” Le Roy explains that South Africa needs to implement the following to reach Abundance: a coherent National Water Strategy; a clear policy with respect to the strategy implementation; an effective water regulator; and finally, a decentralised water service landscape that a smart, adaptive, responsible approach to water stewardship in which the private sector takes the lead.

The implications of these actions are far-reaching. How ready is South Africa to take advantage of the opportunities? Don’t miss these experts, including Dr Turton and Le Roy, who will be lighting the way forward at the Sustainability Week 2018 Water Seminar on Thursday, 07 June 2018 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Tshwane.

To find out more about the event, visit http://sustainabilityweek.co.za/ and http://www.africancapitalcities.org/. Join the conversation on Facebook @SustainabilityWeekSA and on Twitter @SustainWeekSA.