After an intense and exciting week in Stockholm for World Water Week, it is time to look back at some conclusions of the conference and the way forward for next year. I was in Stockholm as a “Lead Rapporteur” and reported in the closing plenary session on “Cooperation to achieve equity by balancing competing demands”; other teams reported on “Managing waters across borders,” “Responding to Global Change,” and “Closing the science-policy-practice loop” (see closing plenary here). This is my attempt to summarize over 100 sessions, you can find all the sessions in the WWW website.
World Water Week
Most of the planet is covered in water, yet less than one percent of it is available for human use. Access to water and sanitation is a key component of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the emerging Post-2015 agenda. Water also directly contributes to goals of health, food security, biodiversity, energy, and peace and security.
Today at least 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Feeding a planet of nine billion people by 2050 will require approximately 50 percent more water in 2050. These challenges are exacerbated by increasing scarcity of water, extreme weather due to climate change, and a rapidly growing population.
Responding to the global crisis in water requires a more deliberate approach to managing trans-boundary water. Forty percent of the world's population lives in international river basins, which account for 80% of global river flow. Despite this and the proven benefits of cooperation, such as reduced chances of conflict, improved river sustainability, and access to external markets, 166 of the world’s 276 international basins have no treaty provisions covering them. Moreover, many multilateral basins are subject to bilateral treaties that preclude participation by other riparian countries.