Every year since 1991, World Water Week has taken place as a forum to discuss the complications of water access and recognize the importance of water security worldwide.
This year’s event, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute, is currently taking place in Sweden’s capital, which began on August 23 and will last until September 1.
Experts, professionals, innovators and entrepreneurs have gathered to discuss this year’s theme: “Seeing the Unseen: The Value of Water.”
“Through a multi-stakeholder approach, the World Water Day 2022 campaign on the theme of groundwater will contribute to a raised public, policy and scientific awareness of the opportunities and risks of addressing groundwater in the context of achieving SDG 6,” write the organizers.
The conference is taking place both in person and virtually so that all can have live access to the discussions.
“Seeing the Unseen: The Value of Water”
This year’s World Water Week seeks to raise attention to groundwater and highlight the importance of water in our everyday life and in relation to climate change and nature.
At the summit, Gilbert Houngbo, Chair of UN-Water, commented on the growing demand for water access as droughts sweep across the continent and limited rainfall has led to water preservation cuts.
Alongside recognizing limited water availability, Houngbo urged policymakers to understand groundwater’s critical role and to better manage the damage of water in all sectors of business — agriculture, industry, ecosystems, climate change adaptation, and sanitation systems.
The session on groundwater, hosted by UN-Water, included presentations from both the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It highlighted the link between the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 (water and sanitation) and other UN goals including this year’s UN World Water Development Report.
According to the report, groundwater accounts for 99% percent of all liquid freshwater on Earth. However, this essential natural resource is widely misunderstood, undervalued and mismanaged.
The report also confirms that groundwater presently provides half of the volume of water for domestic use by global populations and 25% of all groundwater is used for irrigation.
As the World Health Organization points out, protecting groundwater is essential to ensuring worldwide water access.
“Progress on safely managed sanitation needs to accelerate at least four times (many more in some regions) and include greater focus on its impact on groundwater. Efforts must include the application of sanitation safety planning, a risk-based approach for sanitation systems to access, prioritize and manage public health risks…”
WHO mentions updating safety standards for water management and addressing threats like over-abstraction and climate change is essential as they are the two leading causes for decreased groundwater levels.
Another concern that propagates the need for safety measures are the chemicals that often leak into groundwater, such as manganese.
The Minnesota Department of Health states children and adults who consume large quantities of manganese in groundwater for long periods of time are more susceptible to problems of memory loss, attention and motor skills.
“It is our duty to ensure groundwater has its rightful place in all of our action plans,” said Houngbo.
Looking at the future
The World Water Week Summitt is expected to help bring water awareness to the forefront of discussion at the next UN-Water Summit on Groundwater in Paris in December, and at the UN Water Conference in New York in March 2023.
The primary focus of the event is to accomplish the future goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — a list of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals to ensure worldwide equal access to essential resources by 2030.
As World Water Week continues into this week, hopefully these important deliberations on water will reach all audiences and underline that unfortunately, water is an exhaustible source — one we must preserve at all costs.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Ball splashing into a water glass on August 26, 2015. Source: Kurt S, Flickr.