The climate crisis is a water crisis.
World Water Week 2021 is looking to “Build Resilience Faster”, each year this week long campaign provides a powerful movement for change which continues to grow and support all walks of life to ensure we build on innovative ideas and make the best decisions for our future.
One area of focus in this year’s theme is the climate crisis. We might not all immediately think of the importance or even the relevance of water when we hear “climate change” because awareness focuses heavily on reducing our carbon footprint. However, water goes hand in hand with the climate crisis. It is our job to help raise awareness of its importance because it is too often misconstrued or overlooked when presenting findings to the public.
There are several agreements set out across the world to combat a variety of threatening issues to our planet and mankind’s survival. It has become even more important to rethink our choices and actions as a people, within our communities, and as a nation. It has been predicted that there will be a 40% demand for water (for drinking, cleaning, sanitation, agriculture, and more) above and beyond the actual supply of water by 2030. Climate change has only exacerbated this with a transforming water cycle and severe weather phenomena, such as extreme flooding events and droughts from rising temperatures.
Water is by far one of the greatest connectors across several areas of life such as climate, ecosystems, societies, and even economies. And unless we start to make that connection clear and known, many people will remain complacent and not understand the gravity of the global water crisis. This is why this year’s World Water Week is one of the most important for collaboration and innovative thinking, learning from and using the resilience of communities across the world and how they managed the impacts of Covid-19. In the next decade the way we live and work in every area needs to be rethought using the skills and knowledge of people all across the world with a range of backgrounds, this is why World Water Week is so important to bring together a diverse range of voices and ideas that will help shape our future for the better. Having touched on the Covid-19 pandemic in our first blog, this alongside the climate and water crises have clearly shown just how important and how vulnerable our water management systems are and how they affect everyone but particularly those in lower income communities.
Now that we know water is a connector to different areas of life and linked to climate change, attempting to tackle these issues for a better and sustainable future will require different approaches. Often when we think of a water crisis our minds will wonder to drought or flooding because media highlights the natural disaster far more than those affected by a lack of water, or areas where the demand for water is far greater than the supply, or the mismanagement of water in an area.
It is predicted that within 20 years approximately a quarter of the world’s population will face the extreme strain of water availability, whereby water demand and withdrawal will exceed close to 80% of renewable water supplies that remain available. There are approximately 3 out of 10 people who lack access to clean, safe, and reliable water at home. This is particularly focused on those disproportionately affected by the potential impacts of climate change, such as children, the elderly, the chronically ill, pregnant women, the homeless, migrants, and more. Without access to clean and reliable water, water-borne disease is spread more easily; there are effects on food security; increase in financial uncertainties; and biodiversity loss to name but a few. This has become quite the concern over the years and are only worsening with climate change, particularly when the country or an area has declared the approach of “Day Zero”. How does one prepare for that? And exactly how long until that warning comes around again?
The good news is that we know from trial and error over many years what it takes for communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change on their water resources. Previously disadvantaged communities who are more greatly impacted by these issues are now being equitably considered and collaborated with; water conservation in all its forms have become prevalent in our Environmental Education initiatives linking directly to school curriculums; and financial tools incentivize the implementation of water-wise technologies, all helping to promote the conservation of an invaluable resource. To reach a further adaptive approach with global cooperation and innovative ideas will take time, but will work towards building the resilience of vulnerable communities in a world where climate change continues to pressure our water resources.
There is a growing importance to have a clear, comprehensive, and accurate message about water and it’s relevance where it is typically a delicate issue. This could create a lasting impact that drives change and inspires people to take action before it is irreversible. So what can we do? We should all continue to focus on what has worked, what did not work, and what exactly did we learn from it all? By acting locally we can address immediate issues and create a more effective conservation management strategy. We should also be trying to move to renewable energy sources, reduce food waste, increase education and awareness and change transport options where possible. See below for further ways you can help make a difference not only regarding the climate crisis but the water crisis from your home or in your daily life.