Saying that the world will experience water problems – shortages, poor water quality, or floods over the next ten years, the United States of America today has underlined its commitment to achieving a water-secure future, and we invite other nations to partner with us to save water and save lives.
In an event celebrating World Water Day in Washington DC, US Secretary of State John Kerry says water security requires global cooperation to ensure people have the water they need, where they need it, when they need it, reliably and sustainably.
“That’s why we’re bringing together the best of American knowledge and ingenuity to scale-up integrative water solutions around the world.” – Secretary Kerry
Climate change and global growth placing greater stress on water
According to Secretary Kerry, global growth and climate change are placing ever greater stress on our planet’s most precious shared resource: Water.
“Over the next 10 years many countries will experience water problems – shortages, poor water quality, or floods – that will create instability and increase regional tensions.” – Secretary Kerry
He says some states will struggle to produce food and generate energy, risking global food markets, and weakening economic growth.
Water: Our planet’s most precious shared resource
Secretary Kerry says water is also fundamental to diplomatic and development goals – including health, economic growth, food security, gender equality, and conflict mitigation.
He adds that when water is managed well, water allows economies to thrive and children to grow up healthy.
Water can also build peaceful cooperation between neighbors, Secretary Kerry said.
World facing looming water scarcity
In March 2011, the UN reported that the world is facing a looming water scarcity where 1.8 billion people are threatened by absolute water scarcity by 2025 and two-thirds of the world’s population is facing potential shortages.
The UN emphasized that countries must better protect and manage forests to ensure the provision of clean water to vulnerable communities.
In addition, climate change is significantly threatening global water supplies as well. It has also a growing impact on water resources as it alters rainfall patterns and soil humidity, melts glaciers and causes water-related disasters such as floods and droughts, which impact food production. The report estimates that by 2070, this impact will affect up to 44 million people all over the world.
The report also shows that despite projected increases in water demand, there are still nearly one billion people without such access, and this number is growing in cities.
UN says an annual investment of $198 billion, or 0.16 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), in the water sector could reduce water scarcity and halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in less than four years.
How United States Addresses Global Water Challenges
With the growing problem of water scarcity and the mismanagement of water resources around the globe, the United States of America has said if water challenges worldwide left unaddressed, it will pose a threat to U.S. security interests.
Nearly 4,000 people mostly children under five die from preventable diseases caused by contaminated water.
In addition to the health impacts, water will affect world’s ability to protect the environment, achieve food-and-energy security, and respond to climate change.
Competition for water and that lack of access to basic water and sanitation services may become a source of conflict.
In order to better understand the impacts of global water challenges on US national security interests, in 2011 Secretary Clinton requested that the intelligence community produce a National Intelligence Estimate to further study the issue.
The release of the unclassified Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security, whose contents draw from the National Intelligence Estimate, confirms much of that if left unaddressed, water challenges worldwide will post a threat to U.S. security interests.
In 2010 Secretary Clinton defined five specific steps the U.S. would take to address these challenges.
First, build and strengthen institutional and human capacity at the local, national and regional levels.
The countries and communities must take the lead in securing their own water futures.
The step includes building support for and strengthening regional mechanisms for advancing cooperation on shared waters. We are already active in many basins throughout the world a'” from the Nile to the Mekong supporting riparian country efforts, she underscored.
The United States recently launched the Shared Waters Partnership to focus donor efforts on key regions throughout the world.
Second, increase and better coordinate our diplomatic efforts.
States must work to raise international awareness; to encourage developing countries to prioritize water and sanitation in national plans and budgets; and to integrate water into global food security, health, and climate change initiatives.
The third step is mobilizing financial support which will require resources.
The international community need to work to mobilize these resources towards water and sanitation infrastructure by strengthening local capital markets, providing credit enhancements, and exploring other avenues for support.
Fourth step is promoting science and technology,
There is no silver bullet and that science and technology can have a huge impact.
The international community must work harder to incentivize the development of technologies that can make a difference at scale and to share U.S. expertise and knowledge with the rest of the world.
And finally fifth step is building and sustain partnerships.
In April 2012, Secretary Clinton launched the U.S. Water Partnership which aims to mobilize U.S. knowledge, expertise, and resources to improve global water security.
Secretary Clinton said the water crisis is a health crisis, it’s a farming crisis, it’s an economic crisis, it’s a climate crisis, and increasingly, it is a political crisis. And therefore, the international community must have an equally comprehensive response.