09 Jun Genevieve Connors
Posted at 16:39h
Dr. Genevieve Connors is the Program Leader for Water and Sustainability in the India Country Office of the World Bank. She is based in New Delhi, where she currently works in the office of the Country Director on new operations and on analytical work in the Bank’s sustainability sectors, including water, environment, agriculture and irrigation, rural development, disaster management and climate change. Previously, for two years, she supervised implementation of the National Ganga River Basin Project, the $1 billion loan to the Government of India to support cleaning of the Ganga River, primarily in cities in the five states of the mainstem. She was also, from 2013 to 2014, Acting Program Leader for the South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) which aims to increase regional cooperation in the management of Himalayan river systems. Her interests are in inter-jurisdictional and transboundary water challenges—including river basin management and surface and ground water pollution management. She has worked in the basins of the Ganga, the Nile, and the Danube. She has a BA from Columbia University, an M.Phil from Cambridge University, and a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from MIT, where she wrote about the role of street-level bureaucrats and frontline engineers at the Bangalore water utility.
Keynote presentation: Cleaning India’s Rivers: Bringing the Global Experience to Bear
Although a universal definition remains elusive, water security is frequently defined as the availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for basic needs and economic production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks for people and their economies. Yet, water stresses throughout much of the developing world are compounded by declining water quality – often to the point of irreversible damage.
Historically, governments across the world rarely see water quality treatment as a priority, partly because: the benefits are largely invisible to beneficiaries; the investments are capital intensive with high operating and maintenance costs; the problems of diffuse pollution are so intractable; and the values a society ascribes to clean-up are often low to begin with. Without easy solutions to incentivize industries and agriculture to do otherwise, without cheaper alternatives to treat urban point source pollution, and without adequate information to understand the specificity and severity of the problem, the water quality problem remains a thorny issue for countries in the fast lane to reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
What can India learn from the global experience? This session examines the global experience with river clean-up, drawing on notable examples in Europe (e.g. the Rhine) and in the US (e.g. the Chesapeake Bay) as well as in emerging economies, such as in Argentina (e.g. the Matanza Riachuelo) and China (e.g. the Pearl River Delta). What were the successes and failures from these journeys that India can learn from? Ultimately, the final state of surface water bodies – such as a river, a lake, a bay, a stream, or a watershed – is de facto a report card on society and the world has a lot of lessons to offer India.
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