I wrote this article for Living Green Mag. Scroll to the bottom for an amazing Save Water! infograph.
Clean water is the simplest and most urgent need for our planet and its growing population. World Water Day is established to help encourage conservation efforts so that clean, safe and healthy water is made available to everyone.
On days such as this we celebrate and appreciate the natural resources of our planet, but also use them as a tool for raising awareness, mobilizing action, and generating support for future projects.
It also serves to draw attention to the facts such as that 780 million people are still without access to an improved drinking water source, while 2.5 billion – which is over 1/4 of all people on the planet – are in need of improved sanitation.
What are the real values of resources, such as water and air? An answer to that lies in understanding the priorities of resource availability, consumption, and demand.
Water is a commodity and it doesn’t have the same value uniformly across the world. The marketplace for various commodities helps define and dictate the values. Even then, all water is not equal, as its purposes – for drinking, growing food, processing waste, etc – decide its value.
One of our greatest challenges the world is facing is the eradication of poverty, and it is strongly linked with water resources. Providing safe water and improved sanitation for millions of people in underdeveloped countries, in addition to raising awareness globally about water issues, can greatly help with this problem.
According to the Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resource Management, “in developing countries, access to water and sanitation services is a fundamental precondition for poverty reduction and economic progress and is a common thread that connects the critical issues of food, energy, land tenure and climate change”.
An FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) Report entitled Towards the Future We Want: End Hunger and Make the Transition to Sustainable Agricultural and Food Systems details the guidelines on natural resources and protective measure on local resources in support of the livelihood of local communities, as opposed to giving advantage to large-scale developments that would deplete those resources in favour of profit or the chance potential economic prosperity.
Most notably, the research links all the problems to ecosystem services and maintains that their solution lies in the efficiency of natural resource use.
The initiatives are seen as a push toward commitments on universal access to water and sanitation and issues for water and poverty, which must be approached from three different sides: rationing and controlling consumption, balancing production to equitably cover the needs of both the developing and developed countries, and reducing food losses and preventable waste.
Water use, which, according to FAO statistics, “has been increasing globally at more than twice the rate of population growth over the last century” is stretched to its limits, and many countries are struggling to meet the basic needs.
The demand for water, due to its inefficient and unequal distribution and use, is overstepping supply. The growth in population and the requirement for more food production to feed this increase will result in the demand exceeding supply by as much as 40% by 2030, according to the 2012 UN-DESA Issue Brief on Water.
At the Rio+20 conference last year, 2013 was designated the International Year of Water Cooperation, in order to raise awareness, focus on, and make the importance and urgency of water issues an absolute priority. Clean, safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services are crucial for survival. Water is central to everything, and it sustains our livelihood and the environment.
These are all policies, too high-brow? What can each of us do? Shower less, just simply BE AWARE how much water you’re using because it’s available. What if you had to fetch water from wells every day, and ration your use?
On this day, let’s send a message that will encourage progress and action by businesses and the general public to adopt conscious, responsible and sustainable practices and always keep in mind that our natural resources are finite and dependent.