National governments urged to address water scarcity issues
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has published a report calling for a fundamental shift in the way governments tackle the challenge of water security. The publication, ‘Water Security for Better Lives’, advocates a move away from short-term crisis management in favour of a risk-based approach to improve water security in a cost-effective manner. It says the key lies in adopting an approach based on knowing, targeting and managing water risks. Read more...
Water security is one of the defining challenges of our time, with many experts believing water crisis to be one of the top five global risks, both in terms of likelihood and impact. By the middle of the next century, it is estimated that 40% of the global population will live in areas under severe water stress. As the population continues to increase, so too will the tensions among different water users, and water security in many regions will continue to deteriorate due to increasing demand, water stress and water pollution.
The report examines critical issues such as water shortage, inadequate water quality and the resilience of freshwater systems. It provides policy analysis and guidance on the use of market-based mechanisms and the complex links between water security and other policy objectives, including food and energy security, climate mitigation and biodiversity protection. It says that taking a broad, long-term approach to the management of water-related risks and their associated trade-offs will help governments meet their water-related economic, environmental and social objectives.
The European Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik, has also stressed the need for sustainable water management. Addressing the European River Restoration Conference in Vienna earlier this month, he described the protection of rivers as ‘a sound economic and environmental investment’. He drew attention to the European Commission’s Water Blueprint, which was published last November and sets out a new strategy for protecting Europe’s water resources. Commissioner Potočnik emphasised the need to integrate water policy objectives into other policies and said the mainstreaming of green infrastructure, particularly natural water retention measures, was essential.
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