‘Value of water must be better understood’
Leaders, water experts, development professionals and policy-makers have ended week-long meeting in Stockholm that focused on finding ways to better use, and reuse, the world’s increasingly scarce fresh water.
Over 3,200 participants from 133 countries attended several hundred sessions, shared experiences, and discussed solutions to the world’s most critical water challenges.
The participants said that understanding and recognizing the many different values attached to water is the key to more efficient use – a must as more people have to share the world’s limited fresh water.
“Water is the lifeline of our civilization. Without it, there is no hope of sustaining households, industries, food and energy production, or such key functions as hospitals. Access to safe water is necessary in order to implement the global development agenda.
“With increasing scarcity, we must recognize the many values attached to water, be it economic, social, environmental, cultural or religious. I believe that by re-valuing water, we will develop a deeper understanding and respect for this precious resource, and thus be better prepared for more efficient use,” said SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren
SIWI, Stockholm International Water Institute, organizes and hosts World Water Week. SIWI is a global water institute that brings together experts to help solve the world’s water challenges.
Throughout World Water Week, links were made between the different values of water, including its monetary value.“I believe we will see more diverse pricing structures in the future, allowing for more economical and efficient use,” said Holmgren.
In a message to World Water Week, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms Amina Mohammed, pressed on the need to accelerate progress towards SDG6 on clean water and sanitation and on all the water-related sustainable development goals.
“Today, strains on water are rising in all regions and climate change is aggravating the challenge. When water is unequally shared, or perceived to be, the risk of local and national conflict increases. We are even seeing in some cases the use of water as a weapon of war.
“The priority now is to harness national leadership and global partnership to scale up action. […] Only by ensuring the sustainability of fresh water and access to sanitation for all will we achieve the SDGs. Let us value and treasure water as we value and treasure life itself,” concluded Amina J Mohamed.
For Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation in South Africa, “we need to embrace new technologies which support our route towards the realization of the SDGs and that an appreciation must also be given to new world class technologies emanating from Africa.
“We cannot afford to continue to do what we did yesterday and expect to see a different result tomorrow. We must be bold!” said Minister Mokonyane.
Mark Watts from C40, an organization that gathers mayors of cities worldwide, told World Water Week participants about the risks that big cities face from climate change and how water is key to mitigation and adaptation efforts.
“We see that water pattern disruption is often the first sign of serious climate impacts and 70 per cent of our member cities tell us that they are already seeing the significant and negative impacts of climate change. 64 per cent of our member cities face significant risk from surface and flash floods, Watts said, adding that water must be part of the climate mitigation programmes, but also a central part of climate adaptation.
World Water Week hosted an event taking stock of water in the implementation of both Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement. Addressing the event, Hungarian President János Áder said the world needs a more focused global effort towards tackling water challenges.
During World Water Week, Stockholm Junior Water Prize was awarded to Ryan Thorpe and Rachel Chang, USA, for their novel approach to detect and purify water contaminated with Shigella, E. coli, Salmonella, and Cholera. H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden presented the prize.
The Stockholm Water Prize was awarded to Professor Stephen McCaffrey, USA, for his unparalleled contribution to the evolution and progressive realization of international water law. The prize was presented to by H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, patron of the prize, during a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall.