The World Water Forum that is taking place in Marseille, France this week aims to defuse some of the tensions around global water stress that is on the rise due to growing population, rapid urbanization, climate change, and demand for food. Concurrent with the conference is a new UN Water Development Report that provides an overview of the state of the world’s freshwater resources.
The report shows that despite projected increases in demand for water, there are still nearly one billion people without such access, and this number is growing in cities. Sanitation infrastructure is not keeping pace with the world’s urban population, and more than 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is neither collected nor treated, according to the report.
Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of all water use, with countries increasingly tapping underground water resources that show the extraction has tripled in the last 50 years. With a corresponding 70 percent increase in the demand for food by 2050 due to population increases, the demand will lead to a 19 percent increase in the demand for agricultural water use.
With all the increased demand, new initiatives are needed worldwide to better plan and manage water use, with technologies and investments applied to better operations. The report points to global interdependencies for water management, and the need for a collective global response.
You can read the report here.