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All climate negotiations have been based on staying below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. Yet it looks increasingly unlikely that that will be possible. A new report, Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, suggests that there is a 40 percent chance that we will reach 4°C by 2100 even if we stick to the agreed emission reduction commitments.
What does water look like in a 4°C world?
Put simply: it's complex. Water is a complicated system and one of the major impacts of climate change is the effect on the hydrological (water) cycle. These impacts will coincide with an unprecedented increase in demand for water because of population and economic growth.
They both hold the potential to help meet the needs of the poor and end poverty. New ideas and innovative solutions are critical to address the 2.5 billion people who lack access to proper sanitation. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills more than 4,000 children a day and a lack of sanitation results in billions of dollars in economic losses to developing countries. Now that more people have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet or latrine, it’s time to leverage technology to help reach development goals.
Hammerby Sjöstad, in central Stockholm, is integrated urban water management in action. The district, which was intended to be an Olympic Village, once was an old industrial area, but it has been transformed into a sustainable city.
Starting about a decade ago, the planners took on the ambitious goal of reducing the environmental footprint of the neighborhood by 50% compared to other recent developments in Stockholm. They brought in new ideas and put them into practice at surprisingly low costs.
While I was in Stockholm for World Water Week this past week, I spoke to Erik Freudenthal from GlashusEtt in Hammerby Sjöstad about the project.
Thousands of water development practitioners have begun to descend upon Stockholm for World Water Week, the annual knowledge-sharing event hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute. It was raining earlier today in Sweden’s capital. But some parts of the world have suffered through unprecedented high temperatures and drought. The drought in the US can be seen from space, as described in this Wired magazine article. This drought has led to damages to, and drops in, yields of crops of maize and soybeans, for which the US is the largest exporter in the world. It has also meant higher food prices.
... and the winner is an entry from the California Institute of Technology! Michael Hoffman received the prize for the "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" from Bill Gates himself on August 14, 2012 in Seattle. The award winning technology model is based on a self-contained, sun-powered system that recycles water and breaks down human waste into storable energy.
Did you know that the depth of poverty is much worse for rural dwellers? In fact, 75% of poor people live in rural areas, and extreme poverty is more than twice as high in rural areas compared to urban areas in developing countries. The rural-urban income divide is not only large but increasing in most transforming economies.
Outside China, about 80% of the reduction in national poverty rates in the developing world has been due to reducing rural poverty. (With China, the figure is 56%.) The conclusion is pretty obvious: rural development is critical to achieving a world without poverty.
According to the World Food Program, a third of all deaths in children under the age of 5 in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. Undernourished children also suffer from childhood stunting, or low height for age. For those who survive when stunted at the age of 2, the damage is largely irreversible and has lasting impacts on cognition and health.
Last week I was a speaker at a Global Water Intelligence summit in Rome. The organizers asked the panelists to imagine a perfect water future in 25 years and then re-engineer what is necessary to get there. I came up with a long list for an ideal water future, and gradually whittled it down to my personal four:
As the 2015 endline for the Millennium Development Goals draw to a close, the process of developing the next goals is underway. The World Bank has been involved with the UN and others for some time, thinking of how to reshape goals for water and sanitation. In parallel, however, there is a call (led by the Governments of Colombia and Guatemala) to reshape these goals into