World Water Week opened today in Stockholm with a plea for the energy, food and water industries to use scarce supplies more wisely and to clean up contaminated waters that help cause 5,000 deaths a day.
“Mortgaging our future by draining water from the ground, surface and sky faster than it can be replaced by nature is untenable,” said Torgny Holmgren, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, or SIWI.
Global water consumption is growing twice as fast as the population, creating supply and demand imbalances, according to Xylem Inc., the water company spun off by ITT Corp. Solutions include conservation, reuse and desalination systems to address the issue of reduced water quantity and quality, it said.
With the global population due to surpass 9 billion by 2050, “for the sake of the generations to come, we need to change the way the world uses water,” Holmgren said in opening remarks to a conference that drew 2,500 water experts, energy, power-generation, chemical, food and water-technology industries as well as organizations including the United Nations.
“For the Palestinian farmers that cannot access water to irrigate their fields or for the marshes in Iraq that are not receiving enough water, improved and more effective cooperation is the key,” SIWI authors including Holmgren wrote in a report issued today.
“Lack of sanitation has a direct impact on health, nutrition, education, women’s and girl’s rights and poverty reduction,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said. “We cannot accept that 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to a clean and safe toilet and that over 1 billion defecate in the open.”
SIWI called for an emphasis on cross-border cooperative efforts to avert conflicts in areas including the Middle East suffering from increased water scarcity and said “an increasingly important” for effective water development.
Managing state and international waters “often start at the technical-scientific level before moving into political cooperation, and thus ‘hydro-diplomacy,’” with dialogues on the sharing of water and water-related benefits and products such as food and energy across boundaries, it said.
“Evidence suggests that through proper management water can become an economic win-win agent and a lubricant of peace,” the authors wrote.