The planet is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless we dramatically improve the management of this precious resource. This is the unavoidable conclusion reached in the 2015 United Nations World Water Development Report, which was launched on 20 March in New Delhi (India), in time for World Water Day (22 March).
"World Water Day reminds us of the importance of having access to a sufficient amount of safe water for a healthy and happy life. This is essentially our human right to water. But how many people can enjoy such right? How many women and girls can dispose of such a “luxury”? Is this a problem of availability of the resource or a political matter?" asked Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director General for the Natural Sciences. She opened the celebration of the Day alongside Sanwar Lal Jat, Minister of State for Water Resources, Michel Jarraud, President of UN-Water and Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, and Nicholas Rosellini Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Despite the considerable progress that has been made in recent years, 748 million people are still without access to an improved drinking water source, i.e. a water source that is protected from outside contamination. And those first affected are the poor, the disadvantaged and women. The Report, entitled Water for a Sustainable World, shows that while demands for water rocket, it is still not being managed sustainably. This may lead to conflicts between industries and types of users, but also between regions and countries.
”This is a water knowledge and governance crisis more than it is an issue of resource availability”, highlighted Michela Miletto, Coordinator a.i. of the World Water Assessment Programme, which produces the report.
2015, she continued, is a pivotal year for policy. The international community is preparing to adopt the future Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 in the next months. Furthermore, Member States aim to negotiate solutions to limit the impacts of climate change during the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December.
"The stakes are incredibly high," summarized Miche Jarraud, stressing that sustainable water management is a shared responsibility that concerns civil society and the private sector, as well as international organizations.
The United Nations World Water Development Report is produced by the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), hosted by UNESCO, for UN-Water. The report presents an exhaustive account of the state of the world’s water resources and, up until 2012, was published every three years. It became annual publication devoted to a specific water-related theme in 2014.