Categorized | Editorial

Water Planning More Important Than Ever

Posted on 25 March 2015 by admin

Twenty-two years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 to be World Water Day. In a world is facing a severe and growing water crisis without a roadmap, this day is more important than ever.

Our collective abuse of water has caused the planet to enter ”a new geologic age” – a “planetary transformation” akin to the retreat of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago. This is according to 500 renowned scientists brought together in Bonn at the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on May 2013. A majority of the world’s population lives within 30 miles of water sources that are badly impaired or running out, the scientists said.

The water crisis is also our greatest security threat. This is according to 900 global experts asked to assess the world’s biggest global risks in advance of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Another global study warns that by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 per cent. Lack of access to clean water is already by far the greatest killer of children.

So how are world leaders and global institutions dealing with this threat? Very badly and with no plan. This is because the water crisis has been misdiagnosed.

While recognized as real, the water crisis is usually seen as a symptom of climate change, itself caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions. Droughts are almost always reported as the result of climate change. While no doubt greenhouse gas emission-driven climate change does have an important and negative impact on watersheds, warming temperatures and speeding up evaporation, there is another story that needs to be told.

Because the water crisis is misdiagnosed, we do not have the right solutions to solve the crisis. World leaders, elected officials and international institutions wrap the water crisis in with their research and deliberations on climate change. If water is mentioned at all, it is as one more victim of climate change, almost always solely attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. The fact that destroying water-retentive landscapes is in and of itself a major cause of climate change is not part of the analysis or discussion in climate change circles.

The UN General Assembly has not specifically included water in its agenda.

Water must be addressed as an issue in and of itself. There is an urgent need to create a global water recovery plan for water.

Key components would include:

• watershed protection
• conservation and restoration
• national and community programs to replenish water-retentive landscapes
• watershed sharing and governance
• models of food and energy production that do not harm water
• the prevention of eutrophication
• consideration of the impact on water of trade agreements
• strong local, national and international commitment to put water protection at the heart of all laws and policies.

The notion that water can become a negotiating tool for cooperation and peace rather than the cause of conflict and war must be explored and the path to water justice must be a central tenet of this plan.

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