This blog originally appeared on The Huffington Post as part of a series, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals."
As a sector in world affairs, water is reaching a tipping point. Over the next two decades, the global push for food and energy security and for sustaining urbanization will place unprecedented demands on water.
Ours is a "thirsty" world, in which agriculture and energy compete with the needs of cities. At the same time, climate change may worsen the situation by increasing water stress and extreme-weather events. Hence, the water and climate nexus can no longer be a side event at global-climate talks. All of this is happening while the important push for universal access to water and sanitation services -- despite the impressive gains over the past several decades -- remains an unfinished agenda.
- What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals
- sustainable development goals
- World Water Week 2015
- water and energy nexus
- water and climate nexus
- thirsty agriculture
- thirsty energy
- Energy Security
- food security
- water security
- Urban Development
- Climate Change
- Agriculture and Rural Development
Water does not respect geopolitical boundaries. Hydrological systems are completely oblivious of international relations. This makes life complicated for the water managers, financiers, diplomats, and most of all – the water users – around the world’s approximately 276 transboundary river basins, 63 of which are in Africa. Sixty percent of the world’s freshwater flows are in transboundary rivers, and 40% of the world’s population lives in their river basins. When water cuts across borders, it poses economic, financial, logistical and political challenges for people trying to manage and develop the resource.
Climate change is increasing uncertainty about where and when water will be available. It is affecting billions of people living in transboundary basins, and as often happens, the poor are the hardest hit. There is a long list of potential problems people will face – supply in water-stressed regions will diminish; some regions are likely to have more water than they can handle; most challenging is the fact that the timing and amounts of future water availability are impossible to predict with certainty. Other risks - the increasing intensity of droughts, floods, typhoons, and monsoons; uncertainties around waterborne disease; glacier melt and decreased storage in snow-pack; glacial-lake outburst floods; sea-level rise and salt-water intrusion - all pose the highest risk to poor communities that are least able to cope.
The World Bank at World Water Week 2015
As population and economic growth bump up against finite—and increasingly degraded—water resources, competition between agricultural, industrial, and municipal water uses increases, putting stress on existing water sources. This stress is felt most acutely in urban areas, particularly among the urban poor.
Moreover, urban water management systems are inefficient, leading to an uneven quantity and availability of water and related services. In addition, urban water management must consider the effects of climate change, including rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, and climate variability, on water resource availability.
La Banque mondiale à la Semaine mondiale de l’eau 2015
Le thème ne pouvait être mieux choisi pour l’édition 2015 de la Semaine mondiale de l’eau de Stockholm : « De l’eau pour le développement ». L’eau est en effet un secteur crucial et qui atteint un point critique dans les affaires internationales. Au cours des 20 prochaines années et au-delà, la course à la sécurité alimentaire et énergétique et à une urbanisation durable exercera des pressions nouvelles et croissantes sur les ressources hydriques.
The World Bank at World Water Week 2015
The Stockholm World Water Week’s focus on “Water for Development” comes at an opportune time. Water as a sector in world affairs is reaching a tipping point. Over the next two decades and more, the global push for food and energy security and for sustaining urbanization will place new and increasing demands on the water sector.
Ours is a world of ‘thirsty agriculture’ and ‘thirsty energy’ competing with the needs of ‘thirsty cities.’ At the same time, climate change may potentially worsen the situation by increasing water stress as well as extreme events, reminding us that the water and climate nexus can no longer be a side event at global climate talks. All of this is happening in a context where the important agenda of access to services – despite the impressive gains over the past several decades – remains an unfinished agenda, requiring an urgent push if we are to fulfill the promise of universal access.
El Banco Mundial en la Semana Mundial del Agua 2015
La Semana Mundial del Agua en Estocolmo se centra en el tema “Agua para el Desarrollo”, lo cual llega en un momento oportuno. Entre los asuntos mundiales, el sector del agua está llegando a un momento crítico. Durante las próximas dos décadas y posteriormente, los esfuerzos en el mundo encaminados a lograr la seguridad alimentaria y energética y la urbanización sostenible crearán nuevas y mayores demandas en relación con los recursos hídricos.
Water security is a major challenge for many countries, especially developing ones. The numbers tell a story of water resources under stress while competition for their use is increasing – by 2025, about 1.8 billion people will be living in regions or countries with absolute water scarcity. Clean water and adequate sanitation is still far from reach for many of the world’s poorest. At the same time, more water is needed to produce food and energy to satisfy the rising needs of the earth’s growing population.
Just a few months ago, the World Economic Forum’s 10th Global Risk Report ranked water crises as the top global risk in terms of impact, more than the spread of infectious diseases, weapons of mass destruction or interstate conflict. With such global implications, we face a considerable challenge to develop the appropriate response. But we have also long grappled with a simple truth: water management is a complex web of local situations and issues, dictated by hydro-climatic conditions, spatial and demographic patterns, complex political economy dynamics, and technical considerations.
One increasingly pressing issue is the widening gap between the supply of water resources and the demand for water services in rapidly growing urban areas. This is exacerbated by dwindling resources in the face of climate vulnerability, and a legacy of poor governance and wasteful uses. This gap is most extreme in arid areas, which have few contingency options, and are left with few, if any, fallback options in case of further strain on the system.
Each year on March 22 we mark World Water Day. It is an opportunity to keep the urgent water issues – from lack of sanitation to transboundary water to climate change -- top of my mind for practitioners, decision makers and the global public. In the coming days we will post here updates and stories from the field, as well as links to some of our partners’ content. But, more importantly, this is an opportunity to hear from you, too.