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The demand for fresh water is expected to outstrip global supply by 40% by the year 2030, according to a new report from the Global Commission on the Economics of Water.
In an increasingly interconnected world where the need for fresh water goes beyond government boundaries, the report’s authors warn that nations must begin to treat the life-giving liquid as a global common good.
For marginalized communities, such as Jackson, Mississippi, state political leaders have already demonstrated their lack of concern for the people most impacted by fresh water challenges.
Yet the alarming new report indicates access will be even more limited in the near future.
Report warns of increasing lack of fresh water resources
Johan Rockstrom is the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, a German-government funded research organization. He’s also the co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water.
“The scientific evidence is that we have a water crisis. We are misusing water, polluting water, and changing the whole global hydrological cycle, through what we are doing to the climate. It’s a triple crisis,” Rockstrom told The Guardian.
“We need a much more proactive, and ambitious, common good approach. We have to put justice and equity at the centre of this, it’s not just a technological or finance problem,” added co-chair and the report’s co-author, Mariana Mazzucato.
According to the report, “no person, place, economy or ecosystem will be spared” from the water crisis is urgent action isn’t taken.
The report notes how the water cycle requires neighboring countries to be reliant on each other for access. Aside from communities and governments overusing water, the report also criticizes the way we wastefully use freshwater to export waste that eventually leaks back into aquatic ecosystems. It
“It’s quite remarkable that we use safe, fresh water to carry excreta, urine, nitrogen, phosphorus – and then need to have inefficient wastewater treatment plants that leak 30% of all the nutrients into downstream aquatic ecosystems and destroy them and cause dead zones,” Rockstrom said. We’re really cheating ourselves in terms of this linear, waterborne modern system of dealing with waste. There are massive innovations required.”
The Black Wall Street Times reached out to the Biden administration for a response to the findings. The report is currently being reviewed, and its conclusions are being evaluated, a spokesperson for the State Department said.
What can be done?
Notably, the report gives seven recommendations for governments to implement.
- Manage the global water cycle as a global common good to collectively protect.
- Adopt an outcomes-focused, mission-driven approach to water that includes all the key roles it plays in human well-being.
- Stop underpricing water.
- Phase out $700 billion in global, annual agricultural subsidies, which can lead to overconsumption of water.
- Establish Just Water Partnerships (JWPs) to enable investments in water access, resilience, and sustainability in low and middle-income countries.
- Move ahead on opportunities that can push the needle forward significantly in the current decade.
- Reshape multilateral governance of water, which the report concludes is currently “fragmented and not fit for purpose.”
The release of the landmark report comes days before the United Nations water summit, which takes place in New York on March 22.
It marks the first time in decades that the UN has gathered world representatives to discuss the state of water.