“Water stress is different to drought. Water stress is caused by people, it is our responsibility to use water resources in a way that reduces the risk for water stress” – Ruth Mathews (Swedish news agency TT).
This week, Ruth Mathews, Senior Manager Water Governance at SIWI, was invited to speak to both radio and press in Sweden on the topic of water stress.
The peak in interest regarding water stress follows a report released by The World Resource Institute where they warn that 25 per cent of the world’s population is facing extreme water stress. The report has been picked up by the Guardian, New York Times and many more as the figures make for shocking reading.
Water stress occurs when the amount of water an area uses exceeds the amount of water that area has access to. When a country or region experiences water stress they become much more vulnerable to both increases in demand and short and long-term changes in rain and snowfall due to drought and climate change.
In her interviews, Ruth Mathews emphasized that there is much that can be done to alleviate water stress, through good water governance. This is an issue SIWI has been working closely with for some time: our goal is to empower local stakeholders to make decisions that will create sustainable conditions for people, business and the planet. This will avert water crises caused by water stress and instead seize an opportunity for greater resilience. Ruth Mathews explains that there are several ways in which agriculture, which accounts for 70 per cent of freshwater withdrawals, can be developed to be more efficient in its use of water. This opportunity for improvement is also present across multiple water-intensive sectors such as the textile and pharmaceutical industries.
Water should be treated as a valuable resource, the protection of which is vital.
Sustainable solutions to managing water and providing water as a human right are fundamental principles of the panels and seminars that take place during World Water Week.