Humanity can only tackle today’s major challenges if access to water is distributed more fairly. When World Water Week, the leading event on global water issues, opened on Monday, speakers called for a drastic shift in how water is shared and managed.
World Water Week 2019 is held from the 25-30 August in Stockholm, Sweden, with this year’s theme being Water for Society: Including all. The conference is organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and has been running for 29 years.
In his welcoming address, SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren stressed the importance of using water to solve global challenges. “Many in our societies are not aware of the vital role that water plays in realizing prosperity, eradicating poverty and tackling the climate crisis. Together, we can change that perception and unlock the potential of water-related solutions,” Holmgren said.
Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation from the Government of Sweden also advocated for better water governance and warned that with current trends, 52 per cent of the world’s population and 40 per cent of global grain production could be put at risk by 2051, adding: “Poor and marginalized populations will be disproportionately affected, which will further worsen the rising inequalities.”
River champion Dr Jackie King, Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2019, found it encouraging that the rights of nature are increasingly recognized and noted that “We have the methods and the technology, but need the momentum to make them work.”
Access to open data is one of most important technological changes, said Ma Jun, Founder of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, China, whose pollution database plays an important role to protect water quality. He now pushes for more transparency.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, spoke about how ecosystems are more protected where the rights of indigenous peoples are respected. She asked the water community to condemn the growing violence against indigenous activists: “If those who try to protect the environment are killed, there is less of a chance for us all to protect the last biodiversity resources.”