When we look ahead and envisage a future where coming generations will flourish, we see one threat overshadowing all others that are an isolated mentality where every sector acting on its own and polluting the surroundings, would effectively cripple any effort to build a sustainable future. River and other water bodies make a very good example.
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Fresh water is one of our most vital resources, and when our water bodies are polluted it is not only devastating to the environment, but also to human health. One of the SDGs will most likely be dedicated to water, and it is essential that we work for an efficient implementation of that goal. In the climate negotiations, we believe that water needs to be at the centre of the discussions since climate change mainly manifests through the water. If we are to reduce poverty and human indignity, if we are to achieve sustainable economic development through “green growth”, we need to establish this vital connection. Here we have to try to contribute to this endeavour by bringing together key stakeholders from a wide spectrum of professions in academia, civil society and the private sector, with a particular focus on the “cleaning water and other bodies” link.
Without water, we cannot satisfy basic human needs, produce food for a rapidly growing population and achieve economic growth. And yet, today worldwide 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and some 800 million people get their water from unimproved sources. Much more consume water that is unsafe to drink. These are mostly the same billion poor, hungry and underprivileged human beings. Over the coming 30 years, food and energy demands are expected to increase dramatically, yet we will depend on the same finite and vulnerable water resource as today for sustaining life, economic growth and our environment.
Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene are essential to sustainable economic, social and human development. That’s why it was natural for our country to accept the invitation to be a Key Collaborating Partner for the 2015 World Water Week that has a special focus on water and development.
Water is affected both in terms of availability and quality.
Benefits beyond the river include greater trade opportunities, integrated and regional infrastructure development and investment opportunities. Benefits from the river include cooperation and economic benefits from river systems that bring wider benefits such as agricultural production, flood and drought management, recreation, and electricity generation. Benefits to the river include improvements in water quality, river flow and ecosystem connectivity, groundwater recharge, soil conservation & biodiversity.
Hence, it becomes clear that the rivers are often referred as a crucial asset, which when protected or restored bring enormous returns and benefits to societies, economies, and back to the environment.