What one piece of advice would you give the UN on water?

To mark World Water Day, the Guardian WaterHub asked experts from business, NGO and government how water should fit into the post-2015 development agenda.

Mike Muller, professor at Wits University School of Public and Development Management: “Strengthen, don’t disintegrate, water management. The UN has taken the commendable but dangerous step of opening discussion of the post-2015 development agenda to wider consultation. It is commendable because it could mobilise broad support for a new global policy agenda but dangerous because democracies can be hijacked to promote the narrow interests of strong lobby groups.

Chris Brown, general manager for environmental sustainability at Olam International and member of the UN CEO Water Mandate steering committee: “I admire the ambition of the post-2015 agenda, but looking at the proposed focus areas I see a mixture of foundations, enablers and end-goals. I accept there is no single solution so I’d suggest the question they really need to answer is ‘where to start?’ ”

Giulio Boccaletti, managing director for Global Water at The Nature Conservancy: “But, investing in large-scale water resource infrastructure to improve people’s livelihoods must mean investing in the protection of our natural infrastructure – the rivers, aquifers, and wetlands that determine the basic quantity, reliability, and quality of our water. Not doing so will lock us into increasingly expensive engineered solutions that may struggle to cope with future changes in climate.”

Betsy Otto, director of the water initiative, World Resources Institute: “These goals must operate on the principle that water systems are complex, interact with many other systems and sectors, and are subject to planetary and local boundaries. The SDGs should develop targets centered on the vital provisioning role of ecosystems and natural infrastructure. Without these healthy systems, all other goals are unreachable.”

Jenny Grönwall, programme manager, knowledge services, SIWI: “Clearly, our water efficiency should (and could) be improved. Through stronger and smarter incentives for water use and innovative governance, it is possible to increase the value from each litre of water used.”

Greg Koch, director of global water stewardship, the Coca-Cola Company: “Siloed goals (such as for water alone), that do not take into account effects on the other resources (food and energy) will not work effectively and well-intentioned efforts to make progress on one goal could hinder progress against others.”

Kitty van der Heijden, special envoy on sustainability and development from the Netherlands: “This is not a problem only in developing countries. Through global supply chains, western economies are inextricably linked with global water stress. Though the ‘virtual’ water footprint of our consumption pattern (esp animal protein intake) each of us individually is involved. A successful global development must include sustainable consumption and production.”

Extracts of their views as above, click here to read the full post.

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