This conclusion was reached in the 2015 United Nations World Water Development Report, “Water for a Sustainable World,” released Friday in New Delhi, India. According to the UN, the report is a collaboration between the 31 agencies of the UN system and the 37 international partners that make up UN-Water. It was produced by the World Water Assessment Program (WWAP), hosted by UNESCO.
“There is already international consensus that water and sanitation are essential to the achievement of many sustainable development goals. They are inextricably linked to climate change, agriculture, food security, health, energy, equality, gender and education. Now, we must look forward to measurability, monitoring and implementation,” says Michel Jarraud, chair of UN-Water and secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization.
The report stresses that growing demand and the strain of development are putting pressure on the water supply. According to the report, demand for water is expected to increase 55 percent by 2050, while many of Earth’s groundwater resources are overexploited, and underground reserves are drying up.
Because of the growing population, the agriculture, energy and manufacturing industries must keep up with demand, further stressing the resource. The report asserts that through 2050, agriculture will need to produce 60 percent more food globally. With these industries ramping up production, the report estimates industry demand for water will increase by 400 percent between 2000 and 2050. The world desperately needs more sustainable practices, and the report says it is time for people to change the way water is assessed, managed and utilized. According to the report, this begins with a change in the way water is governed.
“Water resources are a key element in policies to combat poverty, but are sometimes themselves threatened by development. Water directly influences our future, so we need to change the way we assess, manage and use this resource in the face of ever-rising demand and the over-exploitation of our groundwater reserves,” says Irina Bokova, UNESCO director-general. But each sector of the industry must do its part.
In light of World Water Day, which was celebrated March 22, the International Bottled Water Association is advocating for sustainable management of fresh water resources and sharing what its industry is doing to mitigate a global water crisis. “Sustainable, protected and naturally recharged water sources are the single most important aspect of our business. This commitment to environmental excellence holds true wherever bottled water facilities are located,” says Chris Hogan, IBWA’s vice president of communications. “Cooperation on effective groundwater management requires a multijurisdictional approach that involves many parties, including bottled water companies, scientists, consumers, environmentalists and regulators.”
To improve sustainability, Hogan says bottled water companies are taking advantage of new science and technology and investing in processes like reverse osmosis, deionization and filtration to not only improve water quality, but strengthen conservation practices.