Global Water Partnership contributed this blog to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) to mark World Water Day on Saturday, March 22, 2014.
By Steven Downey, Global Water Partnership
Water is deeply connected to development. It intersects with virtually every sector in the fight against poverty, and it is clear that sustainable use of freshwater is essential for human development.
The world is consuming more freshwater than nature is able to replenish. And while we celebrate ever more people emerging from poverty, this also puts greater strain on the world’s water resources. Growing populations, and wealthier ones, require more food, energy and material goods. If we are going to have a healthy and prosperous future we have to solve the problems that we ourselves are creating. This raises important challenges for effective development co-operation to address. We need to understand the connections between water and development in order to find equitable ways of sharing limited water resources among many competing demands.
The challenge is simple to state if not to solve: how can we give everyone access to clean water and dignified sanitation while also meeting growing demand for water from other sectors such as agriculture, energy, and industry? Effective co-operation on water requires difficult conversations about how to allocate the resource and what trade-offs are involved. Government, industry, and civil society must work together to figure out how to sustainably manage a country’s water resources in ways that contribute to human health and development.
To celebrate World Water Day 2014’s focus on the connections between water and energy, Global Water Partnership has released a short video explaining the links between these two resources. Water is used to generate energy – and energy is used to provide water. Both are vital to human development and both require successful development co-operation outcomes. Co-operation and co-ordination across engineering, policy and management can maximise the supply of one resource while minimising overuse of the other.
Demand for energy and water also increases with income. In more developed countries, an average person uses nearly five times as much water as a person living in a developing country. Water usage is increasing along with the growing middle income class in the developing world. With the world’s population growing, living standards increasing and climate change putting pressure on water sources, the demand for water is becoming harder and harder to meet.
Because water is connected to virtually all areas of human activity, we need to take a holistic approach to how we manage the resource. Global Water Partnership advocates for integrated water resources management, that is, the co-ordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources to maximise economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability the earth’s ecosystems.
Ultimately, we all want to achieve a water secure world. To do that, we need to understand water’s connection to climate change, trans-boundary co-operation, food, urbanisation, energy, and ecosystems—six areas highlighted by Global Water Partnership’s 2014-2019 strategy. Developed through a year-long process of regional dialogues and consultations with our growing network of over 2,900 partner organisations across 172 countries, the Towards 2020 strategy demonstrates how development co-operation is at the very core of what Global Water Partnership does. This strategy is about the stewardship of water resources for the benefit of societies and the environment. It calls for a public responsibility that requires co-operation across all sectors.
Global Water Partnership looks forward to the outcomes of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s First High-Level Meeting in Mexico next month as a way forward for stronger and better overall development co-operation. We are particularly eager for stronger global leadership because water intersects so many other sectors in what is ultimately a fight against poverty and for human development that also protects our environment.
This blog originally appeared on the GPEDC blog site.