Billions are at risk due to water pollution and the destruction of ecosystems
(ORDO NEWS) — At the opening of the first United Nations water conference in nearly half a century, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced Wednesday that humanity has “broken the water cycle”, endangering billions of people around the world.
“We have broken the water cycle, destroyed ecosystems and polluted groundwater,” Guterres said at the opening of the three-day conference, which is supposed to be attended by more than 6,500 people, including ministers and heads of state and government.
“We are depleting humanity of its vital material through our excessive consumption and unsustainable use of water, and causing its evaporation by raising the temperature of the planet,” he said, expressing his concern about the future of water, which is “a lifeline … and a human right.”
Some areas suffer from water scarcity and others face heavy amounts of it due to the intensity of precipitation, or suffer from water pollution, and the recurrence of tragedies. imminent global water crisis.
“The number of people who will be affected by this global water crisis depends on the scenario,” lead author Richard Connor told AFP. “If nothing is done, 40-50% of the world’s population will suffer from a lack of sanitation and about 20-25%.” percent of the scarcity of potable water. Even if the percentages do not change, the world population is increasing, and with it the number of people affected by this problem.
This conference aims to try to reverse the trend with the hope of ensuring everyone has access to drinking water or a toilet by 2030. But some observers are concerned about the scope of these commitments and the availability of funding to implement them.
“The water crisis is bad enough without climate change,” said Stewart Orr of the World Wide Fund for Nature. “With our rapidly warming world, it would be even worse.”
“We can build resilient societies and economies if governments and companies quickly put in place policies, practices and investments that recognize and restore the value of rivers, lakes and wetlands,” he added.
However, says Gilbert Hongbo, chair of the UN-Water Commission, a platform that coordinates the work of the United Nations, which does not have a dedicated body on the subject. “There is a lot of effort required and time is not on our side.”
No conference of this magnitude since 1977 has been organized on this vital, long-neglected issue.
In a world where over the past 40 years the use of fresh water has increased by nearly 1% per year, the report by the United Nations Water Commission first highlights that water shortages are becoming “widespread generalized”, worsening with the impact of global warming, even It is expected that it will soon affect even regions that were spared from this destitution in East Asia or South America.
Thus, about 10% of the world’s population lives in countries where water stress has reached a high or critical level. According to a report by United Nations climate experts published Monday, “nearly half of the world’s population” suffers from “severe” water shortages during at least part of the year.
The situation also highlights inequality. “Wherever you are, if you are rich enough, you will have access to water… The poorer you are, the more likely you are to suffer from these crises,” says Richard Connor.
Actor Matt Damon, co-founder of the NGO Water.org, stressed Wednesday that women and girls are “disproportionately affected” by the water crisis. “Millions of girls are out of school because they have to fetch water,” he said.
The problem is not only in the lack of water, but also in the pollution of the available water, due to the absence or dilapidation of sewage systems.
At least two billion people drink water contaminated with feces, exposing them to cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. This is not to mention contamination with drugs, chemicals, pesticides, microplastics or nanomaterials.
To ensure universal access to drinking water by 2030, current levels of investment must be at least tripled, estimates the UN Water Commission.
Also, all these sources of pollution threaten nature. According to the report, freshwater ecosystems that provide invaluable services to humanity, including helping to combat global warming and its effects, are “among the most threatened in the world.”
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