Posted by: wfpdc | August 27, 2011

World Water Week Theme: Urban Water

Yesterday marked the conclusion of World Water Week in Stockholm, during which 2,600 global water experts met for over 100 sessions to discuss the issues was water and sanitation around the globe.

“We face an unmitigated disaster. Jaipur, India is out of water. What’s going to happen to places like that?” said Paul Reiter, executive director of the International Water Association (IWA), at the closing ceremony in Stockholm this morning. “We’re adding 1 million people every week times 52 weeks times 40 years. Who’s going to respond to this challenge?”

Discussion centered along several key topics:

1. Megacities: By 2050, the United Nations estimates that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities and urban areas. This rapid urbanization poses massive problems for sanitation and water management; however, the technology available in cities can also be a benefit to developing solutions to sustainable water use. Singapore, for instance, uses recycled water to provide 30% of its water demand.

2. Gross Underestimation of Sanitation Numbers: The number of people in cities are growing, but sanitation facilities remain limited, or do not increase in proportion to increased population. While the MDGs estimate between 3-4 million people are without sanitation facilities, the true number could be up to 5.5 million according to Jack Moss, a researcher with Aquafed.

3. Water-Energy-Food-Climate Nexus: If the increasing world’s population continues to farm and consumes the same foods at the amounts we do today, we will be increasing water use by 70-90%. We need to devise sustainable farming practices in order to reliably feed the world’s population without sacrificing the future of our planet. Breadbasket areas, including the Western US, have already reached their water limits. For more information on this topic, the United Nations will be releasing an upcoming report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization that will examine the use of water in agriculture and its potentially devastating effects on food security if current practices do not change.

4. Technology & Innovation: The conference looked at some of the new technologies that can be used to track water use and loss, to recycle and reuse water, and to utilize this resource sustainably. A large part of this is water monitoring systems that allow information about water overuse to be accessible to all working to solve the issue.  A new global database of water-risk information, Aqueduct, was launched on August 16 by the World Resources Institute (WRI). Aqueduct will enable companies, investors, and governments to create water-risk maps of the world’s biggest river basins. WaterAid also announced this week that they are setting up a new data site that will monitor global water and sanitation commitments and will enable users to track whether government budgets are being spent on these services.

Extra Water Tidbits!

  • Check out this infomatic, create by Circle of Blue: Ten Things You Should Know About Water. For example, did you know that of all the Earth’s water, 97.5%  is salt and 2.5% is fresh? Of that water, about 70% is locked in glacial ice and 30% in soil, leaving under 1% (.007 percent of the total water) readily accessible for human use.
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Responses

  1. […] Old Town Chinatown’s Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was a co-comvener of this special session at World Water Week in Stockholm. Surprising to see a little group included among the likes of IWA, UNICEF, EAWAG and SEI. Could it be that there are precious few grassroots citizens’ groups working on sanitation issues? Come to think of it, are there any others that really started from the bottom up? Yesterday marked the conclusion of World Water Week in Stockholm, during which 2,600 global water experts met for over 100 sessions to discuss the issues was water and sanitation around the globe. “We face an unmitigated disaster. Jaipur, India is out of water. What’s going to happen to places like that?” said Paul Reiter, executive director of the International Water Association (IWA), at the closing ceremony in Stockholm this morning. “We’re ad … Read More […]


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