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UN Warns of ‘Imminent’ Global Water Crisis

UN Issues Warning For Global Water Crisis
UN warns for the global water crisis. Credit: Lomoraronald / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warned of an impending worldwide water catastrophe in a recent study. According to the findings of the research, nearly two billion people, which constitutes approximately 26% of the total population of the globe, do not have access to clean drinking water.

In addition, around 46% of the world’s population, or 3.6 billion people, do not have access to sanitation facilities that are securely maintained. In addition to this, the research throws light on a lack of collaboration from governments on this critical subject.

Risk for Urban Populations

Developing countries, generally the ones to suffer the brunt of the consequences of climate change, are especially in danger from water shortages.

According to the UN’s projections, the number of people living in metropolitan areas who are affected by water shortages will possibly double by the year 2050, rising from 930 million in 2016 to anywhere between 1.7 billion and 2.4 billion.

Richard Connor, the editor-in-chief of the report, highlighted the issue of reduced water availability and increased demand, driven by factors such as urban and industrial growth and agriculture, which accounts for 70% of the world’s water usage. He said, “If we don’t address it, there definitely will be a global crisis.”

Climate Change and the Water Crisis

A report by IPCC said that the consequences that are tied to climate change are greater than had been forecast, and that future effects would include an increase in the frequency of heat waves, droughts, intense rains, rising sea levels, and floods around the world.

With the combustion of fossil fuels for more than a century, average global temperatures have increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius.

In the report, a group of experts representing the United Nations recommended that in order to forestall the most severe consequences of climate change, the countries of the world should work together to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 60% by the year 2035.

Johannes Cullmann, special scientific advisor to the president of the WMO said, “Cooperation is the heart of sustainable development, and water is an immensely powerful connector.” He further said, “We should not negotiate water; we should deliberate on it.”

Importance of Managing Water As a Common Good

A group of 18 independent UN experts and special rapporteurs issued a joint statement emphasizing the importance of managing water as a common good, rather than a commodity.

They also called for a shift away from a technocratic approach to water management and urged the inclusion of the ideas, knowledge, and solutions of indigenous peoples and local communities who have a deep understanding of local aquatic ecosystems.

The statement underscores the need for a more holistic and inclusive approach to water management, one that recognizes the interconnectedness of human rights, environmental sustainability, and social equity.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay emphasized the urgent need for strong international mechanisms, “Water is our common future and it is essential to act together to share it equitably and manage it sustainably.”

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, said, “We are draining humanity’s lifeblood through vampiric overconsumption and unsustainable use, and evaporating it through global heating.”

By prioritizing the needs and knowledge of communities and indigenous peoples, policymakers can ensure that the water agenda is sustainable and equitable and that no one is left behind.

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