World Water Day: UN calls for drastic measures on water usage

"By limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world will be in a much better position to manage and solve the water crisis that we all face”

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World Water Day: The United Nations has launched a flagship report advocating for major shifts in the way the Earth’s limited water resources are used and reused for the reduction of both the impacts and drivers of climate change.

The new global report calls, among others, for concrete efforts to address rising water stress and improve the efficiency of water use in agriculture and industry.

It outlines actions in three areas: first, enabling people to adapt to the impacts of climate change; second, improving the resilience of livelihoods; and, third, reducing the drivers of climate change.

Launched on the World Water Day, ­the 2020 UN World Water Development Report, compiled by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in collaboration with UN-Water, provides decision-makers with knowledge and tools to craft sustainable water policies, and calls for scaling up investment to put them into practice.

The report seeks to tackle water (in)security and climate change, two of the most critical crises the world will continue facing over the next several decades.

“The word ‘water’ rarely appears in international climate agreements, even though it plays a key role in issues such as food security, energy production, economic development and poverty reduction,” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.

She stressed: “This potential of water must be explored, given that our actions to reduce global warming are currently lagging behind our ambitions, despite wide adherence to the Paris Agreement…the report shows that water does not need to be a problem – it can be part of the solution. Water can support efforts to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

‘Everyone has a role to play’

UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his message on World Water Day said, “everyone has a role to play,” and called on all stakeholders to increase climate action and invest in robust adaptation measures for water sustainability.

By limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, he said, “the world will be in a much better position to manage and solve the water crisis that we all face.”

“Water is the primary medium through which we perceive the effects of climate disruption, from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, to glacial melting, saltwater intrusion and sea level rise,” he said.

This will negatively affect health and productivity and act as a threat multiplier for instability and conflict. The solution is clear, said the UN chief.

“We must urgently scale up investments in healthy watersheds and water infrastructure, with dramatic improvements in the efficiency of water use, said Mr. Guterres, adding that the world must anticipate and respond to climate risks at every level of water management.

Above all, said the Secretary-General, “we must use this year and COP26 in Glasgow to bend the emissions curve and create a secure foundation for water sustainability,” he stressed, referring to the upcoming UN climate change conference, currently scheduled for next November 2020.

‘A water crisis is a global crisis’

In her message on the Day, UNESCO chief Azoulay said that with four billion people worldwide forced to contend with water scarcity, “without sustainable access to water, we will be unable to achieve goals such as quality education or the development of more prosperous, fairer societies.”

“Given the urgency of the situation, the coming decade needs to be one of action,” she declared.

The 2020 Report, she said, sets out “concrete solutions for ensuring access to water for all: improved water resources management, the mitigation of water-related hazards, easier and more sustainable access to sanitation.”;

Action to save the planet and its water will only be useful if future generations were fully involved, including through UNESCO member States incorporating issues related to environmental education in their school curricula.

…for the comprehensive article, go to UN News.