Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Water is a Key to Sustainable Development

The theme of World Water Week 2015, (August 23-28) is "Water for Development." This year's theme is crucially important issue as water is central to development issues around the world. There can be no sustainable development, nor can we hope to eradicate poverty in the absence of a keen focus on water.

The issue of water is prescient as the Sustainable Development Goals are due to be formally adopted in September.  As explained in a Reuters article, the World Bank says that water management is key to achieving these goals.

Each day almost 1000 children under 5 die from diarrhea caused by contaminated water. One third of all people on earth, or 2.4 billion people do not have access to sanitation.

This already serious problem is destined to get worse as the world's population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050. This is especially true in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia where urban centers are growing rapidly. We are expected to face a 40 percent shortfall in water supplies in 15 years due in part to urbanization.

We need to fundamentally rethink how water is managed said Junaid Ahmad, director at the World Bank's water global practice. "We're headed into a perfect storm in which over the next 20 years we will see the demand for water growing significantly, driven by thirsty agriculture, thirsty energy and thirsty cities," Ahmad said at the World Water Conference in Stockholm.

Water is not only a problem in the developing world or for the world's poor, it is a global problem that touches all of us. In 2015 alone the ongoing drought in California cost the state's economy $2.7 billion and nearly 21,000 jobs. Water issues in the developing world are even more serious and problematic.

Food scarcity is directly tied to water scarcity. Water scarcity like climate change is a major cause of stress and conflict. Water is also a weapon of war. It is not an exaggeration to say that the fate of the world hinges on how we manage water, particularly in the developing world.

Water for Development: World Water Week 2015
Alarming Facts About Water
Disturbing Water Statistics from the Food Tank
Worldwatch Institute: The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity
Population Growth and Climate Change will Add to the World Water Crisis
Infographic - Water Consumption in the US and in Developing World
Infographic - Sanitation and Water
Video - Water's role in Post-2015 Development Agenda (UN-Water Chair Michel Jarraud)
Video - World Water Development Report
How Much Water is there on Earth
Video - Water in the Anthropocene

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