Proper water management seen as vital to green economy

Zaragoza, 5 October 2011–Successful water projects around the world that already demonstrate that there are effective and economically viable solutions to address the world’s water problems were the focus of a three-day conference organised by UN-Water, a UN inter-agency group focused water issues. 

A lack of sufficient quantities or adequate quality water cans growth, according to Gérard Bonnis, Senior Policy Analyst for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “If we do not act now, more than 40 per cent of the world population will live in river basins subject to severe water stress by 2050, according to our projections.” 

UN-Water convened the conference to contribute to the preparation process of next year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, which aims to address global challenges and set the course for a global sustainable future. Rio+20 also provides a unique opportunity to boost the commitment from governments, the private sector and civil society to take actions to improve the management of the world’s water resources. 

Some of the greatest global challenges are related to water, such as water scarcity, water pollution and water mismanagement. Experts predict that the amount of water needed by humans could exceed the amount available by as much as 40 percent by 2030, which would have devastating consequences for economies and people worldwide. 

Water is fundamental to the green economy because it is interwoven with sustainable development issues, such as health, food security, energy and poverty. Although the challenges related to water are great, there are many examples of successful sustainable water management which delivers benefits for people and the environment. 

Thomas Chiramba, Chief of the Freshwater Ecosystems Unit in the United Nations Environment Programme’s Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, said “the biggest barrier is that water resources managers still focus very much on water allocation. They don’t recognize that by managing water, they are in fact managing a whole range of ecosystem services.” 
The conference showcased how water can be a major contributor to the development of a green economy. Amongst other examples, conference participants demonstrated how water supports poverty reduction through investments and appropriate financing. 

The Conference heard about various projects that included the four major rivers project in the Republic of Korea; reform of the urban water supply and sanitation sector in Yemen; water and green jobs and the control of water pollution in Mexico; water planning in Lao People’s Democratic Republic; and improvement of water supply in Burkina-Faso. 

“These cases may act as templates and stimulate the development of green economies in other countries,” Reza Ardakanian, Director of the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development, said. 

At the end of the conference, UN-Water issued a best practice guide to actions, instruments and policies to progress towards a green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication. UN-Water also announced that a global status report on the “application on integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources” will be launched at Rio+20 next June. 

Around the world, the UN has planned a series of consultations, events and meetings to promote and encourage a wide range of stakeholders to contribute to and participate in Rio+20.

Original article published at

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