World At ‘Imminent Risk’ Of Water Crisis
World Water Day 2023 has just come to a close, taking place on March 22nd, with the aim being to draw attention to just how important freshwater is while advocating for sustainable resource management on a global scale.
The campaign strives to drive action where tackling the water crisis is concerned, supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
To this end, it has released its latest UN World Water Development Report, revealing that the world is now at imminent risk of a serious water crisis – and unless international cooperation regarding water shortages isn’t boosted, these shortages (which currently affect between two and three billion people worldwide) will worsen in the coming decades, particularly in cities.
As it stands, 26 per cent of the global population doesn’t have safe drinking water, while 46 per cent currently lacks access to safely managed sanitation. Furthermore, between two and three billion people experience water shortages for at least one month out of the year, which puts livelihoods at severe risk through food security and access to electricity.
The world’s urban population is also expected to face growing water scarcity issues as time goes on. Back in 2016, 930 million people had to deal with such problems, but this is projected to reach between 1.7 and 2.4 billion people come the year 2050.
Ecosystems are also being put under increasing amounts of stress because of extreme and prolonged drought conditions, which will spell dire consequences for plant and animal species alike.
The report goes on to observe that cooperation will be required for almost every single water-related intervention out there.
For example, shared irrigation systems between farmers will be necessary for growing crops. And communal management of water supply and sanitation systems will be required to provide safe and affordable water to both cities and rural areas.
River and aquifer management across international borders makes matters even more complicated. Currently, just six out of the world’s 468 internationally shared aquifers are managed under a formal cooperative agreement, despite the fact that cooperation over transboundary basins has been found to deliver various benefits beyond the issue of water security.
In light of all this, the UN is now calling for more international cooperation regarding water use and management, citing this as the only way to go about preventing a true global water crisis over the next few decades.
What are the potential solutions?
The report noted that there are all sorts of benefits associated with partnerships and people’s participation.
For example, water funds – or financing schemes – can work to bring together users downstream, such as utilities, businesses and cities, to make collective investments in habitat protection upstream, as well as agricultural land management to improve water quality and quantity overall.
Look to the Monterrey Water Fund in Mexico to see what can be achieved in this regard. Launched back in 2013, the fund has succeeded in maintaining water quality, reducing flooding, rehabilitating natural habitats and improving infiltration, all through co-financing.
Another shining example of success is the Tana-Nairobi river watershed in sub-Saharan Africa, which supplies 95 per cent of Nairobi’s freshwater and 50 per cent of all electricity in Kenya, further demonstrating just how much potential exists within these partnerships.
Buy-in and ownership can also be promoted through inclusive stakeholder participation. By involving end users in the planning and implementation of water systems, you are better able to create services that match the needs and resources of poorer communities more appropriately, as well as increasing public acceptance and ownership.
Accountability and transparency is also prioritised by working in this way. For example, in the Gedo region of Somalia, residents in displacement camps elect water committees to operate and maintain water points that provide supplies for tens of thousands of people. Members of these committees partner up with local water authorities to share and manage resources.
Commenting on the report, Audrey Azouley – Unesco director-general – said: “There is an urgent need to establish strong international mechanisms to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control. Water is our common future and it is essential to act together to share it equitably and manage it sustainably.”
Gilbert Houngbo, chair of UN-Water and director-general of the International Labour Organisation, made further remarks, saying that there is a lot to do and time is now running out.
“This report shows our ambition and we must now come together and accelerate action. This is our moment to make a difference,” he went on to add.
World Water Day 2023
As part of World Water Day, local communities are being called upon to make changes in how they use, consume and manage water in their day-to-day lives. The campaign is keen to emphasise the point that every single positive action that is taken, no matter how small, has the power to make a difference.
This could be anything from taking shorter showers and not letting the tap run while brushing your teeth to fixing leaking water and waste pipes, not putting food waste, medication and chemicals down the drain and buying local seasonal food to reduce the water footprint of your diet.
For businesses, there’s also a huge amount that can be achieved where your water footprint is concerned and you may well find that you can make a significant reduction in your water usage and consumption without having to do much work at all.
A good first step to take is to have a water audit carried out across your site so you can find any weak and vulnerable areas that could be wasting water and costing you money. This is something we here at SwitchWaterSupplier.com can help with, so get in touch with the team today to find out what can be achieved.