Time now to act on looming water crisis, UN warns
PARIS – Agence France-Presse
Without reforms, the world will be plunged into a water crisis that could be crippling for hot, dry countries, the United Nations warned. AFP Photo.Without reforms, the world will be plunged into a water crisis that could be crippling for hot, dry countries, the United Nations warned March 20.
In an annual report, the U.N. said abuse of water was now so great that on current trends, the world will face a 40-percent “global water deficit” by 2030 -- the gap between demand for water and replenishment of it.
“The fact is there is enough water to meet the world’s needs, but not without dramatically changing the way water is used, managed and shared,” it said in its annual World Water Development Report.
“Measurability, monitoring and implementation” are urgently needed to make water use sustainable, said Michel Jarraud, head of the agency UN-Water and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Surging population growth is one of the biggest drivers behind the coming crisis, the report said.
Earth’s current tally of around 7.3 billion humans is growing by about 80 million per year, reaching a likely 9.1 billion by 2050.
To feed these extra mouths, agriculture, which already accounts for around 70 percent of all water withdrawals, will have to increase output by some 60 percent.
Climate change -- which will alter when, where and how much rainfall comes our way -- and urbanization will add to the coming crunch.
The report pointed to a long list of present abuses, from contamination of water by pesticides, industrial pollution and runoff from untreated sewage, to over-exploitation, especially for irrigation.
By 2050, global demand for water is likely to rise by 55 percent, mainly in response to urban growth.
“Cities will have to go further or dig deeper to access water, or will have to depend on innovative solutions or advanced technologies to meet their water demands,” the report said.