United Nations World Water Development Report 2024

News Excerpt:

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2024 highlights that tensions over water are exacerbating conflicts worldwide. To preserve peace, States must boost international cooperation and transboundary agreements.

More about UN World Water Development Report 2024:

  • The United Nations World Water Development Report 2024 was published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water on World Water Day (March 22, 2024).
  • Theme: Water for Prosperity and Peace.

Key highlights of the report:

  • The Report highlights how developing and maintaining water security and equitable access to water services is essential to ensuring peace and prosperity for all. 
  • Equitable access to water resources, to safe and affordable water supply and sanitation services, and to the multiple benefits they generate are essential to building and maintaining prosperous and peaceful societies. 
  • Recent events, from global epidemics to armed conflicts, have emphasized that the socio-political conditions under which water is supplied, managed, and used can change rapidly.
  • Water management needs to consider the new economic and social realities, including climate change and geopolitical changes and their implications on our water resources. 
  • Leveraging water for prosperity and peace therefore requires actions beyond the water domain.

How does water bring abundance?

Water nurtures prosperity by meeting basic human needs, supporting livelihoods and economic development, underpinning food and energy security, and defending environmental integrity:

  • Economic prosperity: The capacity for an individual, company or society to improve its economic performance and/or standards of living, with particular focus on countries’ economic performance, including their overall productivity, in particular their water productivity, as well as income equality.
  • Social well-being: The sufficiency of water services for supporting the health and welfare of all individuals, including the provision of safe drinking water, food security and cultural integrity, among others.
  • Environmental integrity: The ability of the environment to maintain biophysical functions or services that support resilience and security under changing climate and social conditions.

Cooperation, peace and social stability

  • Water can contribute to peace by motivating cooperation and diplomacy.
  • However, inequalities in the allocation of water resources, in access to water supply and sanitation services, and in the distribution of social, economic, and environmental benefits can be counterproductive to peace and social stability.
  • Disputes linked to water can occur when demand exceeds supply, when availability is compromised due to pollution, when access to (and allocation of) water may be uncertain, when water supply and sanitation services are disrupted, or when water management institutions are inadequate.
  • Typically, water is not the cause of war, but it has most often been a tool, a target, or a victim of warfare
    • This is the case when there are attacks targeting civilian water infrastructure, including treatment plants, distribution systems and dams. International humanitarian law explicitly includes protections for a wide range of civilian infrastructure, including water systems.

Facts and Figures:

  • Developing and maintaining a secure and equitable water future underpins prosperity and peace for all. 
  • The relationship also works in the opposite direction, as poverty and inequality, social tensions, and conflict can amplify water insecurity.
  • Some facts about water scarcity from the report:
    • 2.2 billion people had no access to safely managed drinking water in 2022.
    • About 80% of jobs are water-dependent in low-income countries where agriculture is the main source of livelihood.
    • 72% of freshwater withdrawals are used by agriculture.
    • US$832 billion in economic losses were caused by floods in 2002–2021.
    • 1.4 billion people were affected by droughts in 2002–2021.
    • A 10% increase in global migration between 1970–2000 was linked to water deficits.

Water and the Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. 
  • The targets cover all aspects of both the water cycle and sanitation systems, and their achievement is designed to contribute to progress across a range of other SDGs, most notably on health, education, economics and the environment.

World Water Day:

  • World Water Day is held every year on 22nd March.
  • It is a United Nations (UN) day focused on raising awareness of the importance of freshwater.
Theme of World Water Day 2024 is Water for Peace. 
  • The aim is to highlight the tensions that can emerge over resources like water, leading to potential instability and conflict, but also the role that water can play, if carefully managed, in promoting peace.

Book A Free Counseling Session