Global water crisis 'draining humanity's lifeblood': UN's Guterres
Held in New York from Wednesday until Friday, the UN Water Conference will see 6,500 participants - including heads of state and governments - attend the meeting co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands.
Following the start of the major UN convention on water, the first in almost 50 years, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a foreword in a report, warning that the world is "blindly" treading on a "dangerous path" as "unsustainable water use, pollution, and unchecked global warming are draining humanity's lifeblood".
Held in New York from Wednesday until Friday, the UN Water Conference will see 6,500 participants - including heads of state and governments - attend the meeting co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands. The water access issue lacks a UN agency dedicated to it, and so the last meeting for it was in 1977 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
The lead author of the report, Richard Connor, disclosed to AFP that the aftermath of the "world water crisis" is considered a "matter of scenarios."
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"If nothing is done, it will be a business-as-usual scenario -- it will keep on being between 40 percent and 50 percent of the population of the world that does not have access to sanitation, and roughly 20-25 percent of the world will not have access to a safe water supply."
Guterres further pointed to the rapidly increasing global population as a reason that others are not having adequate access to water services.
Water stress at 'critical levels'
At the UN conference, proposals for a "water action agenda" are expected to be presented by the attendees to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, set by the UN in 2015 to ensure "access to water and sanitation for all by 2030" - which matches the sixth goal on the agenda.
Gilbert Houngbo, chair of UN-Water which is a forum merely responsible for coordinating work on the matter, said: "There is much to do and time is not on our side,"
Published by UN-Water and UNESCO, the report suggests that due to pollution and other anthropogenic causes, "scarcity is becoming endemic", adding: "About 10% of the world's population lives in a country where water stress has reached a high or critical level,"
On Monday, the IPCC expert panel's most recent UN climate report read that "roughly half of the world's population currently experience severe water scarcity for at least part of the year."
Connor claims that only the poor are left to fend, "No matter where you are, if you are rich enough, you will manage to get water," he said.
Leaders from the world's poorest countries freely expressed their disappointment and bitterness earlier this month during the UN Least Developed Countries summit in Doha, Qatar, over how richer counterparts are treating their countries. Many called on the developed powers to come good with the promised aid to help them flee poverty and fight climate change.
Better safe than sorry
The report names "cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio" as threats of contraction because "at least 2 billion people (globally) use a drinking water source contaminated with feces,"
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This data does not take into consideration factors of pollution by pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and microplastics.
In order to meet goal number 6 on the 2030 Sustainability Agenda, investment to save water resources would be required to triple as freshwater ecosystems that provide economic resources and fight global warming are considered "the most threatened in the world" per the report.
Henk Ovink, the Dutch special envoy for water, relayed to AFP the dire need to "act now because water insecurity is undermining food security, health security, energy security or urban development and societal issues,"
"It's now or never as we say -- a once in a generation opportunity."