RANCHI – The International World Water Day is held and marked in style annually on 22 March as a way and means of focusing more attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
This important day was initially proposed in Agenda 21, 1992, by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that recommended an international day to celebrate freshwater.
In response, the United Nations General Assembly designated the World Water Day on 22 March, 1993 as the first World Water Day.
Since then, each calendar year, the World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2013, in reflection was on International Year of Water Cooperation. World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water and is coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) on behalf of UN-Water.
The UN International Year of Water Cooperation and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) designated 2013 and recognised that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share this precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace.
It also sought it wise that promoting water cooperation reveals an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions together.
The Official World Water Day celebrations was held and hosted on 22 March 2013 by the Government of The Netherlands in The Hague. The programme of the day included inspirational speeches, presentations, panel and thematic discussions, and a series of public shows on the theme of water cooperation. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in his video message to the world emphasized that water is a cardinal resource for sustainable development.
Notably and more specifically, was the Key-note speech by His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange, Chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB). Read more here.
Why 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation?
In December 2010, Tajikistan together with a group of other countries, initiated and submitted a proposal to the United Nations General Assembly to declare 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation in its A/RES/65/154 Resolution.
The UN-Water instructed and appointed the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to take lead in the preparations for both the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation and the World Water Day. This was to be in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC).
This was in view of the organisation’s multi-dimensional mandate in the realm of natural and social sciences, culture, education and communication, and its significant and long-standing contribution to the management of the world’s freshwater resources.
India Water Week
The Ministry of Water Resources, India has established an annual policy and technology to showcase event “India Water Week”. This will be on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources, National Water Development Agency and Central Water Commission. The Water week in India will be organised between 8th to 12th April 2013 with the theme “Efficient Water Management: Challenges and Opportunities.” The event will have a conference cum policy dialogue forum coupled with a Business to Business exhibition. The event is targeted at International and National audience comprising of policy planners and technologists involved with water resources management in all key sectors of economy like Agriculture and Irrigation.
Increased global Water demand
According to the UN-Water, over 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet whereby 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.
Shockingly 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.
Various estimates indicate that, based on business as usual, 3.5 of the planet Earth, would be needed to sustain a global population achieving the current lifestyle of the average European or North American.
Global population growth
The Global population growth projections is estimated to be at 2–3 billion people over the next 40 years, combined with changing diets, result in a predicted increase in food demand of 70% by 2050.
In 2010, the World Health Organisation and (WHO) and UNICEF, released a report that over half of the world population lives in urban areas, and the number of urban dwellers grows each day. Urban areas, although better served than rural areas, are struggling to keep up with population growth.
With expected increases in population, by 2030, food demand is predicted to increase by 50% (70% by 2050) (Bruinsma, 2009), while energy demand from hydro-power and other renewable energy resources will rise by 60% (WWAP, 2009). These issues are interconnected – increasing agricultural output, for example, will substantially increase both water and energy consumption, leading to increased competition for water between water-using sectors.
Water availability is expected to decrease in many regions. Yet future global agricultural water consumption alone is estimated to increase by 19% by 2050, and will be even greater in the absence of any technological progress or policy intervention.
Water for irrigation and food production which constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources will decrease. Agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater withdrawals (up to 90% in some fast-growing economies).
Economic growth and individual wealth are shifting diets from predominantly starch-based to meat and dairy, which require more water. Producing 1 kg of rice, for example, requires 3,500 litters of water, 1 kg of beef requires 15,000 litters, and a cup of coffee requires 140 litter to be produced according to Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008. This dietary shift is the greatest to impact on water consumption over the past 30 years, and is likely to continue well into the middle of the twenty-first century (FAO, 2006).
About 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid and more than 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment – meaning that they have less than 1,000 m3 per capita (NEPAD, 2006).
Transboundary International Water Basin
In the past, there has been a lot reported on transboundary water related issues and more significantly are the Nile Water Resources among others that I have written about in the past.
It is widely known that water is not confined to political borders. An estimated 148 states have international basins within their territory and 21 countries lie entirely within them.
There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world (64 transboundary river basins in Africa, 60 in Asia, 68 in Europe, 46 in North America and 38 in South America).
Therefore, 185 out of the 276 transboundary river basins, about two-thirds, are shared by two countries. With these, 256 out of 276 are shared by 2, 3 or 4 countries (92,7%), and 20 out of 276 are shared by 5 or more countries (7,2%), the maximum being 18 countries sharing a same transboundary river basin (Danube).
About 46% of the globe’s (terrestrial) surface is covered by transboundary river basins.
With 148 countries include territory within one or more transboundary river basins. 39 countries have more than 90% of their territory within one or more transboundary river basins, and 21 lie entirely within one or more of these watersheds.
It is known that the Russian Federation shares 30 transboundary river basins with the riparian countries, while Chile and United States share 19 river basins, Argentina and China share 18 river basins, Canada 15, Guinea 14, Guatemala 13, and France 10.
Africa has about one-third of the world’s major international water basins – basins larger than 100,000 km2. Virtually all sub-Saharan African countries, and Egypt in the upper Sahara, share at least one international water basin. Depending on how they are counted, there are between 63 (UNEP, 2010b) and 80 (UNECA, 2000) transboundary river and lake basins on the African continent.
Land grabbing is another increasingly common phenomenon. This is quite common and prevalent in Africa. Saudi Arabia, one of the Middle East’s largest cereal growers, announced it would cut cereal production by 12% a year to reduce the unsustainable use of groundwater. As a way to protect its water and food security, the Saudi government issued incentives to Saudi corporations to lease large tracts of land in Africa for agricultural production. By investing in Africa to produce its staple crops, Saudi Arabia is saving the equivalent of hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year and reducing the rate of depletion of its fossil aquifers. That mean Africans will be left to workers on foreigner land but they should not mess up with grabbing land of African.
Nearly all Arab countries suffer from water scarcity. An estimated 66% of the Arab region’s available surface freshwater originates outside the region.
With all the above, where are we headed to as the one piece of world.