Water Forum for the Greater Pilanesberg, Tuesday 30 April 2013 

On 30 April 2013, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment is hosting the first meeting of the revived Water Forum for the Greater Pilanesberg area.  Its going to be held at Sun International’s Maslow Hotel on the corner of Rivonia Road and Grayston Drive in Johannesburg.

This is a great opportunity to take a good look at what the future of the Western Limb will look like if we do not manage our precious water resources, and to look at what can be done now to shift that.

Presentations: human rights, tourism, NGOs, communities, labour, the environment, mining companies, government and others

There will be presentations by many of the key stakeholders:

– the South African Human Rights Commission on the Constitutional Right to Sufficient Water, presented by South African Human Rights Commissioner Janet Love;

tourism and ecotourism representatives, with presentations from Sun International, the Legacy Group and the Black Rhino Game Lodge.

-the Chamber of Mines’ members, including members Anglo Platinum and Royal Bafokeng Resources;

– non-governmental organisations, including the WWF South Africa, Birdlife Africa, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa;

the Benchmarks Foundation;

– community perspectives by community representatives;

– the National Union of Mineworkers;

– presentations by other groups with an interest in this key issue, including Eskom, Afriforum, a representative of irrigation farmers;

– the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry for the Crocodile West / Marico Water Management Area

Magalies Water, a state-owned water and sanitation provider

What will it take to really make a difference?

This is a real opportunity to develop a shared vision and plan for the area’s water.  Often at these kinds of events, which include all the various stakeholders, I am struck by how much agreement there is.  Often, almost everyone kind of knows what needs to happen to make it all work.  There is sometimes disagreement, but on core issues, people often agree.  I am also often struck by a real willingness to do something about it.  This may not be the case here, but it may be.

So, my question is, how can all these key players keep the conversation alive after 30 April, and keep holding each other to account to take the actions that are going to make the difference?

What structure can be put in place so the actions that need to be taken are taken, and for regularly having an honest look at what’s working and not working, that leaves everyone empowered?

A request from Western Limb – a weekly conference call to keep the conversation moving, and actions being taken

One strategy I have found effective is a weekly 30 minute call, using a conference calling facility. with all the people there, which always ends with who is going to do what, and by when, and starts by acknowledging what was done and was not done that was promised the last time.  Situations transform through actions.  If there enough actions, there will be a different result.

I sometimes dread those kinds of calls, because I don’t want to have to admit that I didn’t do what I said I would do, or to have a conversation with someone about something that they promised and didn’t do. But, I have learned that they do make a real difference, so I have them often.

Over time, this is a practice that greatly improves performance.

Is this something the stakeholders at this forum are willing to take on?  Do you have other suggestions for keeping the conversation alive?

Let us know in the comments field, or get in touch with me, Kevin Williams at kevin@westernlimb.org.