Global Agenda Council on Water Security 2012-2013
A wealthier, more populated and climate-variable world is rapidly becoming a more "water insecure" world. The world’s demand for fresh water is growing so fast that by 2030, agriculture, industry and rapidly expanding cities will face scarce supplies, thereby jeopardizing economic development while threatening political stability and public health. Impacts of climate change are becoming more visible in the water cycle, in the form of extreme events like drought and flooding. This is in addition to the widely accepted tragedy that more than 750 million people lack adequate access to safe drinking water. As water has consistently been underpriced in many places around the world, it has been wasted and overused.
The world’s capacity to respond to water security risks is in doubt, as existing institutions and policies at most levels are struggling to accommodate informed debates on water. As economies grow, rapidly accelerating demand for food and energy continuously intensifies pressure on water resources, raising cross-border water management issues. In turn, the local nature of water resources further strains institutional capacity; the world faces not one global water challenge, but many local ones with potential widespread consequences. Insufficient information and expertise make it even more difficult for governments to assess and appropriately manage water resources. Companies increasingly consider water as not just an environmental issue, but also as a complex issue representing serious risk to their business.
In this complex landscape, effective and comprehensive policy frameworks must be developed with relevant stakeholders, to enable the necessary political commitment to undertake reforms and drive progress into the coming decades.
- According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2012, 783 million people, or 11% of the global population, remain without access to an improved source of drinking water. At the current pace, 605 million people will still lack coverage in 2015. Over 40% of all people without improved drinking water live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- The World Bank estimates that 1.7 million people die annually due to unsafe water, lack of sanitation and unhygienic practices; 90% of those deaths are children under age five. The daily per capita drinking water requirement is 2-4 litres, and it takes 2,000-5,000 litres to produce one person’s daily food.
- Agriculture is by far the biggest user of water, accounting for almost 70% of withdrawals, and up to 95% in developing countries.
"The global water crisis is universally threatening and immensely complex. The causes are many – climate change, population growth, over-use – and the ramifications are felt in all areas from environment to security to economic development. Fortunately, innovative models and inclusive decision-making are offering new hope for how the world can respond to one of its most critical challenges.”
J. Carl Ganter
“Water is a vital enabler of sustainable development and a resource under growing stress. Taking action to improve water security will yield multiple development benefits, including food security, energy security and public health. It’s the most powerful investment of time and energy we can make.”
6th Session, Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention
28-30 November 2012
International Water Summit and the World Future Energy Summit
15-17 January 2013
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
World Water Day
22 March 2013
World Water Week
1-6 September 2013
Since its inception, the Global Agenda Council on Water Security has established itself as a pioneer group to advance the water agenda and to demonstrate practical impact. In 2011, the Council was the first to publish its own book, Water Security: The Water-Food-Energy-Climate Nexus, thereby promoting systemic thinking around the nexus and seeding the concept among policy-makers and leaders worldwide. Accordingly, the nexus has emerged as a key topic of focus for a number of international conferences, including the Bonn Water-Energy-Food Conference in 2011. The Council also played an influential role through the preparation, in a collaborative effort, for the Rio+20 Summit. Last, the Council helped catalyse a major initiative in the alignment of the Forum’s Water Initiative and the Water Resources Group.
The Global Agenda Council on Water Security is convinced that the case for action to address water security is more urgent than ever. In particular and for the term ahead, the Council will focus its attention on the role of governments in sustainable water resource management by asking: What does society need governments to do to avoid escalating water crises, and how can this Council help them to do it?
A second, related area the Council will focus on is developing and communicating a better understanding of the values and costs of water, and how these are reflected in water resource management. Understanding how social, cultural, environmental and economic values can be reflected in water management arrangements will help identify where instruments such as pricing will be most effective, and where other instruments and institutions are needed. This will point to ways in which high value economic users can best contribute to sustaining water resources.
Research Analyst: Vanessa Lecerf, Senior Associate, Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Manager: Alex Mung, Associate Director, Head of the Water Initiative, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Dominic Waughray, Senior Director, Environmental Initiatives, firstname.lastname@example.org