Rise in global temperature may induce $19.2 billion water spending

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Depressed by the global rise in average temperature, the United Nations Think Tank, (UNU-INWEH) institute for Water, Environment and Health has raised the alarm on looming water crises globally.

The organization which also align with the UN agencies, governments and civil societies for a radical new approaches to water to reverse the sobering trends posited that there is urgent need to address the crises in an intelligent and cohesive way for water to continue to support life, development and biodiversity for the present generation and posterity.

According to a report released by UNU-INWEH entitled; “Global Water Crisis: The Facts”, it explained that a 2 degree centigrade rise in global temperature could mean additional water-related costs between $13.7bn and $19.2bn per year from year 2020 to 2050 mostly through water supply and flood management.

The report stated that regionally, the global limit of ecological sustainability of water available for abstraction is reported to have exceeded for about one-third of the human population. This is expected to rise to about half of the human population by 2030. While of the world’s 263 trans-boundary basins, more than 60 per cent lack any type of cooperative management framework.

“ 12Million people were affected by floods between 2005-2015, 1.8billion people now use a source of drinking water contaminated by faeces. There could be 40 per cent gap between water demand and water available by 2030, 80 per cent or more wastewater returns to the environment without adequate treatment and 30 per cent of global water abstraction is lost through leakage”.

Specifically, the report stressed that successful water management will serve as a foundation for the achievement of many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as for SDG 6 – which is to ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’.

“Water is becoming a pressing societal and geopolitical issue – in some regions, it is already of critical national concern. ‘Business as usual’ will mean the world will miss water-related SDGs by a wide margin; up to 40 per cent of the world’s population will be living in seriously water-stressed areas by 2035; and the ability of ecosystems to provide fresh water supplies will become increasingly compromised. Wealthier diets cost water; producing 1kg of rice requires around 3,500L of water while 1kg of beef costs 15,000L. Wastewater-related emission of methane and nitrous oxide could rise by 50per cent and 25 per cent”.

Analysing that 60 per cent of fresh water comes from River Basins that cross national borders, the organization urged that trans-boundary water agreements need to be robust enough to deal with increasingly uncertain environmental and climatic conditions, and the social/demographic changes that will raise global population to 9.7 billion by 2050 and double the number of people who live in urban areas.

“Different conceptualisations of water can and have led to conflict. The perception of water as a human right and a common public and environmental good is often opposed by the view of water as a commodity that needs to be priced to ensure efficient and sustainable use. Not only nations but provinces and communities will need to align water perspectives to allow for peaceful and effective integrated water resource management and sustainable use. Effective management will mean tackling neglected issues such as water wastage in current systems, which has been estimated to be up to 30per cent; common institutional dysfunction, unethical practices, poor accountability, and corruption in the water sectors of many countries”, it states.

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