The 2023 United Nations Water Conference, which has been taking place since Wednesday in New York, is dedicated to the mid-term review of the implementation of the objectives of the decade of action on water 2018-2028 .
During this gathering, where Morocco is represented by a large delegation led by the Minister of Equipment and Water, Nizar Baraka, the UN warned that between two and three billion people in the world are experiencing water shortages.
These shortages will worsen over the coming decades – especially in cities – if international cooperation in this area is not strengthened, the UN warned at the opening of the United Nations Conference on water 2023.
Worldwide, 2 billion people (26% of the population) are deprived of access to drinking water and 3.6 billion people (46%) do not have access to a managed sanitation system. way, reveals a report on water resources development published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water and presented on the occasion of the Conference.
Between two and three billion people experience water shortages for at least one month a year, which poses serious risks to their livelihoods, particularly through food security and access to electricity.
The global urban population facing water scarcity is expected to double from 930 million in 2016 to 1.7 – 2.4 billion people in 2050.
Extreme and prolonged droughts also have an increasing impact on ecosystems and lead to disastrous consequences for plant and animal species.
According to the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, “there is an urgent need to establish strong international mechanisms to prevent the global water crisis from gets out of control. Water is our common future and it is essential to act together to share it equitably and manage it sustainably”.
For his part, the President of UN-Water and Director-General of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Gilbert F. Houngbo, stressed that“There is a lot to do and time is not on our side. This report demonstrates our ambition and now we need to come together and step up action. Now is the time for us to make a difference”.
International cooperation, the key to access to water for all
Almost all water-related interventions involve some form of cooperation. Cultivating the land requires the use of irrigation systems shared by the farmers. Supplying drinking water at an affordable cost to cities and rural areas is only possible through joint management of sanitation and water supply systems. And cooperation between these urban and rural communities is essential to ensure both food security and the maintenance of farmers’ incomes.
The management of rivers and aquifers that cross international borders makes the issue all the more complex. While cooperation on transboundary basins and aquifers has been shown to have many benefits beyond water security, including the opening of additional diplomatic channels, only 6 of the 468 international aquifers shared in the world are the subject of official cooperation agreements.
On World Water Day, the United Nations calls for stronger international cooperation in water use and management. This is the only way to avoid a global water crisis in the decades to come.
Partnerships and citizen participation
Environmental services, such as pollution control and biodiversity enhancement, are among the shared benefits most often highlighted in the report, along with opportunities for data sharing, information and co-financing.
For example, “water funds” are financing schemes that bring together downstream users, such as cities, businesses and utilities, to collectively invest in the protection of upstream habitats and the management of agricultural land to improve water quality or overall quantity.
Mexico’s Monterrey Water Fund, launched in 2013, has helped preserve water quality, reduce flooding, improve infiltration and rehabilitate natural habitats through co-financing. The success of similar approaches in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the Tana-Nairobi River catchment, which supplies 95% of Nairobi’s fresh water and 50% of Kenya’s electricity, illustrates the global potential of these partnerships. .
The involvement of relevant stakeholders also promotes buy-in and ownership. Involving end users in the planning and implementation of water systems helps create services that are more relevant to the needs and resources of poor communities, and increase public acceptance and ownership . It also promotes accountability and transparency.
In camps for the displaced in Somalia’s Gedo region, residents elect water committees that manage and maintain water points that supply tens of thousands of people. Committee members partner with local water authorities in host communities to share and manage water resources.