The Water Crisis Is Closer Than You Think
Celebrated since 1993, World Water Day serves as a reminder of the importance of freshwater and to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion humans who lack access to safe water.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía
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The latter, bearing in mind that Sustainable Goal 6 is a commitment to achieve water and sanitation for all by the year 2030.
A large portion of the Earth is covered by water, actually more than one billion km3 of it. However, the challenging news is that most of it remains in forms that are unavailable to land-based or freshwater ecosystems. Fewer than 3% of the accessible portion of water is fresh to drink or to water crops and of that total, more than two-thirds are locked in glaciers and ice caps. On the other hand, it's is clear that available water does not have an even distribution on our planet. Two-thirds of the total precipitation falls in the tropical region because evaporation and solar radiation are higher.
Now, it is vital to highlight that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 64/292 (July 28, 2010), recognized the human right to water and sanitation and stated that clean water and sanitation are essential to the realization of other human rights. The mentioned Resolution invited international organizations as well as signatory states to provide funding, infrastructure, and technology to help countries provide drinking and sanitation water for all. The right to water means that everyone is entitled to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use.
What worries the most on this celebrated day are the global threats to water security and river biodiversity. In a study by Vorosmarty and colleagues, they found that nearly 80% of the world’s population is exposed to high threat in terms of human water security. The mentioned study presents the first global synthesis that unifies human and biodiversity perspectives using a spatial framework that quantifies stressors and exposes downstream impacts. The regions of the world which showed the greatest threat were those with intensive agriculture and dense settlement, including most of Europe (except Scandinavia and northern Russia), portions of central Asia and the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, and Eastern China. Other areas of elevated threat include central Mexico, Cuba, Nigeria, North Africa, South Africa, Korea, and Japan. In contrast, areas of low threat include mostly inhabited places such as Siberia, Canada, Alaska, Northern Australia, and Amazonia.
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In a study by Jackson, Carpenter, and colleagues, they mention the following priorities for balancing between the current and future demands for water supply:
-Generating improvements in the elimination of point and non-point pollution sources.
-Creation of economic incentives to aim for efficient water use in all sectors of the economy.
-Protection of critical habitats such as groundwater recharge zones and watersheds.
-Realistic valuations of water supplies and freshwater ecosystem services.
-Development of plans for managing the growing pressures on freshwater systems.
-Promotion of environmental water reserves to make sure that ecosystems receive the quantity, quality, and flows needed to support their ecological functions.
-Legal recognition of surface and groundwaters as a single coupled resource.
Finally, in this special date, we must keep in mind that as claimed in the first sentence of the World Water Report 2015, “water is at the core of sustainable development”, meaning that it is of vital importance to guarantee access to sufficient water in terms of quantity and quality in order to protect ecosystems and to ensure the health and wellbeing of humanity. The question that should come to your mind on this remarkable date is what actions are you taking to use water in the best sustainable manner?