This is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.
With a constantly growing population and climate disruptions intensifying drought and effects on the availability of fresh water, access to water has become a central issue for humanity’s survival.
According to the United Nations, by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas, where blue gold will be rare. Countries face challenges such as water scarcity, increasing demand and water pollution.
Should there be global governance over water with a water body?
The question of governance was raised by many water experts and activists, who stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to water management by countries and different actors.
From 22 to 24 March 2023, representatives of the 193 UN member states met in New York for a world conference on water. This environmental summit brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss this issue and propose integrated water management to address the water crisis.
Governance made possible through global coordination to help countries manage this scarce resource responsibly and to resolve water-related conflicts between states.
Some activists go further and call for an international law of drinking water, to guarantee to each person an equitable access to drinking water and sanitation. As a reminder, 2.2 billion people (a quarter of the world’s population) do not have access to drinking water, and 3.6 billion (half) are deprived of proper toilets.
Franck Vogel’s point of view
Water is an essential resource for life and the environment, and many countries have different water needs depending on their climate, geography and economy. Water is also a limited resource that can be threatened by pollution, overconsumption and climate change.
With the current tendency to use AI, I too wanted to question her and see what she had in her belly. Here’s her answer:
Because of the complexity of the question, there is no single or simple answer. However, it is generally accepted that effective and sustainable water management requires global, regional and local coordination. Water challenges require international cooperation to ensure equitable and sustainable management of water resources.
Global water governance could help establish common rules for international water management, as well as for resolving conflicts between countries and regions. It could also help ensure equitable access to water for all peoples, including those living in the world’s driest and poorest regions.
However, the establishment of global water governance could also face political, economic and cultural obstacles, as well as issues of national and regional sovereignty. It is therefore important to balance local and international interests to ensure effective and sustainable water management.”
We see that she does not get too wet, since she could not feel in her gut the importance of water, but that she sums up the situation well.
For my part, I immersed myself in it for eight years. A real passion was born. I travelled around our planet to better understand the tensions related to access to water on transboundary rivers for GEO magazine. My photographic and investigative work began in 2012 with the Nile and the controversial Great Renaissance dam project in Ethiopia. I continued with Brahmaputra, followed by Colorado, which has not reached the sea for 20 years, Jordan, Mekong, Ganges, Zambezi and finally the Danube, which I finished in 2019. A long-term survey that resulted in numerous publications including the book «Fleuves Frontières» published by La Martinière.
I was able to appreciate the importance of water for life and I realized that Transboundary Rivers are at the heart of the issues, tensions and wars of water.
How can the world’s leading power get away with cutting off its Mexican neighbour because 300 American families in southern California decided to change their agricultural model 20 years ago?
How can Egypt decide to dig the Jonglei Canal at its Sudanese neighbour in the early 1980s with the aim of gaining a little flow on the White Nile and thus drying up a gigantic marshy area? History has decided otherwise since the Dinkas, who live there, understood that action was necessary to survive. So in 1984 they attacked the construction site, and that triggered 20 years of civil war and the birth of a new country, South Sudan.
I could cite many other real examples that make me say that there is an absolute urgency to create global governance over water. And the climate change that’s going on is only adding to that need. For me, it’s time for us to wake up.
What are the priorities for addressing future shortages?
The inadequacy of water management in the face of increasing scarcity of water resources should call for solutions and proposals to address future shortages. This is all the more striking when we see how some countries are completely dependent on water from other territories.
Some ways to address these water shortages could include water demand management, by reducing water consumption in homes and businesses, and promoting sustainable agriculture and land management practices that store rainwater.
Technologies to reduce water consumption in industries and buildings must also be developed and encouraged.
The point of view of Frédéric Denhez
It is already a matter of strengthening the governance of water as it is today, so that any planning project, construction, expansion, agriculture, industrial production is analysed in terms of the quantity and quality of water available. In fact, PLU and Scot, planning and planning documents, should be backed by water. Similarly, the Wise, the documents that define water management, should include targets for reducing consumption.
Then there are the soils. They are the best basins. The allies, the deputies of the tablecloths. A soil that contains a lot of water is a permanently covered soil, very little worked, very little or not sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers, rich in organic matter. It’s dense, living soil, like prairie soil. It’s a reservoir of water…and carbon. This way of producing without touching the ground should be the norm.
The water crisis is a major challenge for the planet and needs to be addressed with a global approach in order to activate effective levers. Governments and citizens must take action to manage water in a sustainable and responsible manner to ensure equitable access to safe drinking water for all.
It is imperative to take a coordinated approach, taking into account all sectors concerned, to resolve water-related conflicts and address future shortages.
Find Frédéric Denhez’s profile on this link.