The world commemorated World Water Day on March 22 with events around the globe focusing on ways to make international cooperation happen in the water. Events held in celebration of the Day covered all aspects of water - from water supply and sanitation, to water and its nexuses with food and energy, water resources management and water and climate change. But in most, if not all of these events, one theme was clearly cross-cutting: the importance of strengthening partnerships to leverage knowledge and facilitate innovative solutions.
Guy Laliberté is the Founder of Cirque du Soleil and the President of One Drop, a non-profit striving to ensure that water is accessible to all. One Drop is one of the many innovative organizations the World Bank is proud to partner with in pursuit of this goal.
Today, water is the star. Once a year, we celebrate it, we sing its praises, we think about it. Once a year, we pause to consider the ominous and worrying statistics. Then the curtain falls and we move on. On to another show, another issue to be brought to light.
Water management lies behind most of the great development challenges of the 21st Century. It's obvious but we too often forget that we won't be able to achieve food security, energy security, healthy cities and productive ecosystems without greatly improving how we manage water. In the global north, the challenges of basic access to water services are less pressing than they are in the south but -- as hurricane Sandy showed New York -- the challenges of making the right quantity and quality of water available where it is most needed still loom large.
More people today have access to a cell phone than to a clean toilet. At the current rate of progress the world will miss the global sanitation target for 2015 by over half a billion people. And while the drinking water global target was met last year, nearly a billion people still lack access to an improved drinking water source. Most of these statistics are well known by water and sanitation experts, and the wider development community. Perhaps, less known is the economic cost of the water and sanitation crisis.