Stakeholders from across sectors honoured for transformative contributions towards Water Sustainability on the eve of World Water Day

March 22, 2024
WSA - 1

New Delhi, March 22, 2024: Government representatives and experts gathered for the prestigious third edition of Water Sustainability Awards (WSA) organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), on the eve of World Water Day. The emphasis of the event was on the universal importance of water stewardship and the pressing need for collaborative and participatory approach that would create a ripple effect across generations and communities. The event was an occasion to recognize the efforts of the people who have made significant contributions towards advancing the water sustainability initiatives under the umbrella of Sustainable Development Goals, by United Nations, on the theme, ‘WATER FOR PEACE’.

In his opening remarks, Mr Anshuman, Director, Water Resources Division, TERI, highlighted the challenges in the water sector. Aligning ‘collaboration’ to the theme of ‘water for peace’, he underscored, “Sustainability cannot be achieved until the last mile connectivity is achieved.” He emphasized the need for collaboration and dissemination of technologies, best practices and policies so that critical mass impact can be achieved. Highlighting TERI’s study on “Benchmarking water use efficiency in industrial sector in India”, Mr Anshuman took the audience through the water use practices in different industries like Thermal power plant, Textile, Paper & Pulp and Iron and Steel; and shared the interventions which can be adopted for reducing water consumption in these industries. Citing examples of the measures adopted by these industries, he highlighted the best practices which have helped the industries towards achieving their water sustainability goals.

He set the stage for an interesting panel discussion on, ‘Water use-efficiency: Uniting around fair and sustainable use of water’. Dr S K Sarkar, Distinguished Fellow, TERI started the panel discussion on water use efficiency with reference to National Water Mission in India and insights on water neutrality. Mr Manish Gandhi, Senior Vice President, Ion Exchange India Ltd shared his views on how one can disseminate and upscale the experiences for the benefit of a larger audience. “India’s water crisis is impacting its ability to generate power, grow crops and is hindering the companies’ ability to operate in the country.” He emphasized ‘water audit’ as an answer to economic stability of the country. ‘Cost benefit analysis’ and ‘Lifecycle cost analysis’ were the key points highlighted by Mr Dilip Singh, National Project Manager, UNDP India. He reinforced the cause of adaptation and mitigation for efficient water management. Mr S S Kacker, ex-General Manager, NTPC said that the need of the hour was water conservation and sustaining water resources below and above the ground. He presented examples of the initiatives which had helped NTPC manage usage of water efficiently. The panel discussion concluded with the unveiling of the Policy Brief ‘Benchmarking Industrial Water Use Efficiency in India –opportunities for Water-Intensive Industries’.

In the context of the launch of the Policy Brief, two MoUs were signed. The MoU for ‘Air to Water’ technology – offering potential to achieve Water for All, was signed with MAITHRI Aquatech Pvt Ltd; while the second one with 2M Shan Engineering Solutions Pvt Ltd. The collaboration with MAITHRI marks a significant step towards advancing universal access to potable water in India, leveraging innovative technologies, notably 'air to water', better accessibility to water which is right of mankind.

The tone for the main event of the day was set with the inaugural address by the Chief Guest, Mr Bharat Lal, Secretary General, CEO of the Commission National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). ‘Making water everyone’s business’ was the core message by Mr Lal. He complimented TERI for encouraging people to get into the water sector and do meaningful work. Highlighting the importance of water as a critical instrument for achieving growth and development of individuals and the country at large he said, “Our socio-economic growth is dependent on water.” On the way forward, he laid down water governance, measurement and monitoring available in public domain, design systems for water management, grey water and behavioural change towards use of water as the key steps required to achieve water sustainability and preserve water for future generations.

Dr Shresth Tayal, Head of Water Resources – International Development, DHI (India) Water and Environment Pvt Ltd, took the audience through the unique quotient of Water Sustainability Awards (WSA). He said that the WSA was initiated by TERI to facilitate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal on Water and Sanitation (UN-SDG6) by encouragement through recognition of efforts. On behalf of TERI, he extended his gratitude for the support extended by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, UNDP, JWIL Infra Ltd, Delhi Jal Board and Deendayal Port Authority, Kandla. Mr Rishabh Sethi, CEO, JWIL Infra Ltd, unveiled the pledge with the Chief Guest of the occasion on the theme fostering global stability and prosperity. He said, “We all need to be united for this campaign on water.”

The WSA spans diverse categories in the water sector, acknowledging the contributions of numerous stakeholders. These awards aim to inspire individuals, organizations, and entities across various sectors—such as civil society, industries, municipal boards, and community bodies—to champion SDGs through innovative and impactful initiatives. Recognizing excellence in diverse areas, the awards celebrate innovative solutions that address SDGs effectively.

The WSA recognizes the individual and collective efforts being made to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water, and the Water Champion awards were given to Dr Sonam Wangchuk in individual capacity, while Paani Foundation was awarded the Water Champion at the Institution level. Dr Sonam Wangchuk expressed his gratitude through a video message. “If you want water, we need to get people together” was the message from the CEO of Paani Foundation. Winners in the multiple categories are: Belgium Embassy (Promoting Water Cooperation), POSCO Maharashtra Steel Pvt Ltd (Wastewater Treatment and Safe Reuse), Coca-Cola India Pvt Ltd (Water for All), NTPC Unchahar (Excellence in Water Use Efficiency - Industrial Sector), KL College of Engineering (Excellence in Water Use Efficiency - Domestic Sector), Centre for Environment Concerns (Excellence in Water Use Efficiency - Agricultural Sector), PHD Rural Development Foundation (Excellence in Participatory Water Management), Aga Khan Agency for Habitat India (Protect and Restore Community Water Resources) and Chitkara University (Innovation in Water Technology).

The third edition of the Water Sustainability Awards hosted by TERI in association with the Ministry of Jal Shakti and UNDP India, showcased the remarkable efforts of stakeholders towards achieving water sustainability. Through collaborative endeavours and innovative solutions, these champions are driving transformative change in water management, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals. Their dedication and initiatives underscore the collective commitment required to ensure water security for present and future generations.

Drinking water
Ground water
Sustainable development
Water conservation
Water efficiency