A New Blue Revolution for Inclusion, Equality & Diversity: Innovation 4 Inclusive Water & Sanitation
by Nik Neftenov, LLB, LLM Senior Research Associate & AI, IP, & Digital Policy Advisor at Tambourine Innovation Ventures
Despite water covering 71% of the Earth’s surface, access to this precious resource is one of humanity’s most pressing challenges of the 21st century. Currently, 2.2 billion people worldwide still lack safely managed drinking water, and 4.2 billion lack access to sanitation services. This means that access to water and sanitation services is a precious commodity not extended to one in four people who lack safely managed drinking water and nearly half of the world’s population that lacks safely managed sanitation.
“Today, women and girls worldwide collectively spend 200 million hours collecting water.”
The importance of safe, reliable, affordable and adequate water and sanitation services was underlined during the COVID-19 pandemic. Global access to clean water, sufficient sanitation and hygiene education can lower illness and disease-related deaths, improving health, reducing poverty and fostering socioeconomic growth. However, many nations struggle to provide these essential requirements for their citizens, putting people at risk of contracting diseases from insufficient access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Timely and sufficient water availability of suitable quality is crucial in preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks.
Fresh water in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) can be immensely abundant as about 30% of the world’s fresh water flows through the Amazon, the Parana-Plata and the Orinoco watershed. However, despite having the highest fresh water resources per capita, fresh water can be infinitely scarce and inaccessible, as one-third of the people in LAC lack sustained access to safe, potable water.
While many governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean water and sanitation, marginalized populations face unique challenges. In LAC, historical inequality has perpetuated disparities in access to these basic services. Equitable access to WASH services requires particular attention to the most disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalized societal groups. While access to safe and clean WASH services is essential for every woman, man, girl, boy and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons, the inclusion of people with disabilities, Indigenous People and Afro-descendants is particularly important in the context of LAC.
“In some countries in LAC, Afro-descendant communities in urban and rural areas faced challenges such as the lack of access to water and sanitation services, which made it impossible to follow the sanitary measures required to fight the pandemic.”
Despite multilateral and multinational efforts, current WASH problems marginalized and underprivileged groups face cannot be solved with conventional methods. Technology in the SDG era has frequently been emphasized and has played a crucial role in addressing some of the WASH-related difficulties by offering resource-efficient solutions for water harvesting, desalination, effective usage, treatment and recycling. However, much focus has been given to emerging technologies that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), implemented by numerous development and humanitarian organizations to address the general WASH crises of our modern world.
The New Blue Revolution hinges on innovative solutions and practices beyond conventional approaches. Yet, these solutions require a more nuanced, creative approach to innovation sensitive to the differing challenges underserved, underprivileged and marginalized groups in LAC face. As a result, the New Blue Revolution paper showcases real-world use cases of innovative solutions, approaches, technologies and practices being deployed across the globe to address the WASH needs of each vulnerable group.
One example of the solutions in the paper is a traditional concept of water purification used by the Indigenous Peoples — Marakwets — of the Kerio Valley in Kenya. In this arid region, the Marakwets have preserved and applied their Indigenous knowledge to ensure fair water distribution. They use native plants and herbs, like “chepluswo” (maerua edulis), to successfully purify contaminated water. Women also add burnt ash to water pots to settle dirt and improve taste. Additionally, they practice effective water storage by cleaning and drying containers, making them more durable.
“A New Blue Revolution for Inclusion, Equality and Diversity: Innovation for Inclusive Water and Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean” is a timely and groundbreaking paper by Tambourine Innovation Ventures (TIV) and the Inter-American Development Bank, highlighting the urgent need for transformative change in the region’s water and sanitation sector. By emphasizing the intersection of inclusion, equality and diversity and advocating for innovative solutions, the paper provides a roadmap to address the water crisis and bring about positive change for millions of people.
“Systemic land and water grabbing have encroached on ancestral lands, making Indigenous communities, who already suffer a higher burden of disease as they have higher mortality rates than comparable non-Indigenous groups, vulnerable.”
Originally published in Agriilinks
Complete Article on Inter-American Development Bank Website
About Nikola Neftnenov, LLB, LLM
Nikola Neftenov is a Senior Researcher at Tambourine Innovation Ventures. His area of expertise is in data privacy, data protection, data governance, innovation, entrepreneurship, digital transformation, emerging technologies/4IR, regulatory and policy analysis, gender, diversity and inclusion issues, venture capital (regulatory issues), IP law, traditional knowledge and culture, LDCs, and SDGs. Mr. Neftenov has extensive work experience with international organizations in Latin America, Africa, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe (Western Balkans), and Central Asia. He has provided advisory services to organizations such as the World Bank Group, Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Telecommunication Union, UNIDO, UNDP, ESCAP, and APEC.
During his tenure at TIV, he has led research efforts on complex projects on IP Law, entrepreneurship, innovation, 4IR (AI, Blockchain, Big Data, 3D Printing, Drones, AR/VR), data protection, data governance, and regulatory and policy analysis for organizations such as the World Bank, AfDB, IDB, WIPO, ITU, APEC, UNIDO. Prior to his engagement at TIV, he worked at the World Bank Office in Skopje, North Macedonia (Skills Development and Innovation Support Project). Mr. Neftenov also worked as a Program Assistant at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in North Macedonia, working on the Balkan Regional Rule of Law Initiative Network project sponsored by the USAID, and later by the US Department of State.
Mr. Neftenov holds a Bachelor’s degree in law from the University of “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, North Macedonia, a Diplôme d’Université in IP Law from the Center for International IP Studies (CEIPI), the University of Strasbourg in France, and a Master’s degree in IP Law from the University of “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, North Macedonia.