Water resources expert Guillermo Donoso to address two key topics at the Agricultural Water Summit
Professor Guillermo Donoso, one of Chile's leading experts in water resource economics in the agricultural industry, will kick off a stellar line-up of speakers at the upcoming Agricultural Water Summit in September.
The distinguished speaker will provide the seminar's attendees with his perspective on two major topics that he says are crucial for the Chilean agricultural industry to address in order to manage the severe water crisis and set itself on a path for a more sustainable future.
The Agricultural Water Summit is a pioneering, first-of-its-kind event that will take place in the South American country on Sept. 7 in San Francisco de Mostazal. The event will include simultaneous translation into English.
Coming at a critical time for the global agricultural industry as it continues to battle the water crisis, the event will see an array of experts and thought leaders from Chile and the rest of the world give essential information on how the hugely challenging situation can be overcome, discussing real-world examples, innovation and technology, farming management strategies, among many other topics.
Importantly, the Agricultural Water Summit will bring together not only the Chilean agricultural industry but also academics, government representatives, and other key figures involved in the country's water resource management. In the same place for the first time, this meeting will foster the multi-sectoral collaboration and information sharing that has until now been lacking in the country.
Donoso holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and he is currently a Professor of Water Economics at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He has researched water governance and allocation mechanisms with an emphasis on water markets for more than 20 years, and has worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and the World Bank in projects for Latin America.
In his opening presentation at the Agricultural Water Summit, he will address two key topics of the water crisis in Chile, while also carrying out a comparative analysis of real-world examples of other countries that have faced and successfully overcome similar issues, such as Australia, France and Israel.
In a preview of his presentation, Donoso told FreshFruitPortal.com: "One of the topics has to do with the weakness of water management in Chile, both at the central level and at the local level with user organizations."
He said that while there are some very good examples, there are also many areas where there are no user organizations for groundwater, and there is a lack of user organizations to manage.
"The second message has to do with drought management, pointing to the need to migrate more towards risk management and strengthening all preparedness actions, because today the emphasis has been mainly on mitigating the impacts," he said.
"There are initiatives at the level of agricultural water management, in Minagri [the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture] to improve preparedness and to provide good information. And that is an example of what should be strengthened and its implementation increased to have a more effective drought risk management."
For a country to make the right decisions on water regulation and management, it is necessary to have an integrated, public and transparent information system. One that considers hydrological information from surface and underground sources, water quality, data on established and recognized usage rights (DAA), their transfers and transmissions as well as prices among other factors, he said.
Under these circumstances, it is increasingly unusual and unsustainable that Chile still lacks a national water information system that is complete, up-to-date, and with simple and open access for all. A system that contains information on our water resources and that is the basis for regulatory, planning, management and administrative decisions within this sector.
Donoso also plans to address the topic of reform in Chile and will show projections of what can be expected from the 'mega-drought' in the country in the future.
"We have to recognize that the drought is a reality and we have to manage water to face this situation," he said.
"The serious water situation in the country cannot continue to be made invisible. This is not a looming crisis, as some have argued; this drought is a structural reality, part of the "new normal" of water resources in Chile, and we must address it as such."
Agricultural Water Summit will help to fill the information deficit
Speaking on the importance of the Agricultural Water Summit, Donoso said that the lack of information on water resources means that it is "essential" to have events like this that bring together all water users, including farmers, academics and those in charge of management.
"There is information available, but it does not reach all users. Therefore, an event like this that brings together researchers with users and at the management decision-making level, is critical to be able to standardize the understanding of where the problems are, the relevance of the problems faced by users, and to be able to transfer knowledge in both directions," he said.
"It is a very important event that I believe was missing at the national level. In general, the events are either users, or management decision-makers, or researchers, and rarely all the relevant actors come together to discuss the subject together."
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