Water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu and the department’s director-general Dr Sean Phillips signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Finland and renewed another with the Netherlands on the sidelines of the recent United Nations 2023 Water Conference.
The agreement between South Africa and Finland aims to promote water security and is focused on integrated water resources and river basin management, including the management of groundwater/aquifers and surface water, river basins. The agreement also covers adaptation to and mitigation of the impacts of climate change in water resources management, as well as hydrological extremes including flood, drought, water quality, water-borne diseases and other water-related risk management.
Mchunu noted that the integrated water resources management (IWRM) is the dominant paradigm in contemporary water resources management.
“Finland has implemented such an approach for decades, aiming at win-win partnerships. It has also been the guiding principle in Finnish water legislation,” Mchunu said.
He added that the signing of the agreement is a much-needed boost for the sector in South Africa.
Empowering young talent
Meanwhile, the agreement signed with the Netherlands has been renewed for an additional four years. It aims at collaborating on inspiring and capacitating young talent in water, climate and sustainability in South Africa and abroad.
Obligations of the agreement include addressing the skills gap in the water supply value chain and in technical areas within the water sector, as well as to develop professional water ambassadors that can protect and manage future water resources.
In addition, the two governments are required to organise various activities for students and young professional in the water sector, creating innovation and empowering young people, and integrating young and established professionals in the water sector.