To the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) standards the cumulative annual renewable freshwater availability requirement for Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti and St Kitts amounts to 18.7 billion m3, whilst they currently have 14.2 billion m3. This deficit of 4.5 billion m3 is set to increase as climate change impacts manifest, water intensity of lifestyles increase, population growth continues and integrated water resource management measures remain absent.
One innovative and arguably increasingly logical way to alleviate freshwater stress is through the mechanism of Fresh Water Transfer Allocation Agreements (FTAAs). FTAAs will create a freshwater trading market between highly water abundant and high water scarcity economies by utilizing a secure water transfer infrastructure that will enable freshwater transfer at an agreed- to place, quantity, quality and price between said entities.
Introducing Suriname, a high abundant fresh water society looking for economic diversification. Suriname, a small country on the northeast coast of South America, has 228,000 per capita m3 of renewable freshwater resources annually, which places it in the top 3 of countries with the most renewable freshwater resources globally. In addition to vast per capita resources, Suriname has 151 billion cubic meters of freshwater that is flowing into the ocean annually, which could potentially be used to fill gaps of renewable freshwater availability in the Caribbean islands and beyond.
In its search for new sources of income, the government has identified the sale of bulk fresh water as a potential new market to boost its economy sustainably. In 2006, the first study to identify bulk water export as a potential source for sustainable development in Suriname was conducted by the Foundation for Sustainable Development Netherlands Suriname (d’ONS). The initial findings were deemed positive.
• Caribbean economy: increased sustainable water supply at a reduced cost. Rough calculations place the potential cumulative savings for the selected markets at USD 29.6 million (1 USD p m3) on the environment.
a). reduction of existing negative impacts from current fresh water producing technologies.
b). conservation of Suriname’s critical ecosystem services incl. fresh water sources and rainforest on the social: human well-being, job creation and sustainable development.
By creating the abovementioned economic value of Suriname’s fresh water resources the government will have the means to initiate large scale sustainable development and support broader conservation.
CI will be able to bring its expertise to bear in the definition of the environmental and social safeguards and monitoring mechanisms within those markets on a continual basis. CI’s overarching ambition is to help Suriname become a global leader in nature-based sustainable economic development.
Water trading as a market and utilization of FTAA’s is a concept in design today.
An economic feasibility study, carried out in 2015, shows that there is a viable business model for continuous, low cost delivery of fresh water to the Caribbean. The feasibility study focussed on the infrastructure of water collection, purification and transportation. It involved a policy analysis to determine the viability of selling water to proposed markets.
In 2015 a pilot will be conducted to prove concept and viability of transport. You can download the findings of the feasibility study here as well as a presentation on the next steps.