Focus on Waste & Scarcity

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Water is key to a range of issues that will shape the world in the decades to come. The main objective of World Water Week is to track water in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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STOCKHOLM: The ‘World Water Week’ under the theme ‘water and waste: reduce and reuse’ held in Stockholm, Sweden was organised by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) from August 27 to September 1, 2017, in which many eminent leaders from all over the world joined the week-long program. SIWI organized World Water Week in collaboration with CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, the International Water Association (IWA) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

The topics addressed during the week include: water and climate; water as a connector between the SDGs and the Paris Agreement; drinking water and sanitation; water security; water and food/nutrition; innovative financing and green bonds; water cooperation; water integrity; pricing of water and valuing water; water and migration; pharmaceuticals and water; and water and faith. Almost 3000 participants from 130 countries joined the week-long program. World leaders, water experts, development professionals, policy-makers, and an astronaut, began a week-long meeting in Stockholm focused on finding ways to better use and reuse the world’s increasingly scarce fresh water.

Encouraging global action to support clean water and sanitation, United Nations General Assembly President Peter Thomson underscored that when it comes to the environment, everything is connected.“None should imagine that the state of sanitation and coral reefs are anything but directly connected,” Thomson said, delivering the keynote address at special event in Stockholm to start World Water Week.

“It makes no sense to consider terrestrial environmental issues, fresh water challenges or climate change in isolation.” He urged the international community to take an “inclusive, integrated approach,” and put to use all skills, idea and energies. Combined with the Paris Agreement on lowering the impact of climate change, the SDGs represent “the best chance our species has to achieve a sustainable way of life on Planet Earth before it is too late,” Thomson said. Sweden’s Minister for Environment, Karolina Skog said that “Sustainable and efficient management of our water and wastewater has a profound effect on all aspects of human life; economic growth, sustainable development, sustainable city planning, circular thinking in industry and in production, energy saving, good quality of our water and, last but not least, it is crucial for health and for a sustainable environment.”

“World Water Week is a key meeting place for the water and development community; it is here that we come together and make sure that the very best ideas are brought forward,” said SIWI’s Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren.

Another central aspect of efficient water use, is to use less. In his welcoming speech Holmgren pointed out that it will be challenging but necessary to change large-scale water consumption patterns: “The Week’s theme, Water and waste: Reduce and reuse, really touches the very core of our daily lives. To reduce, some drastic changes will be necessary – especially by the main water users, including industries, energy producers and the agriculture sector.” Stephen McCaffrey, 2017 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate and a Professor in water law, spoke of the need for water cooperation and water diplomacy. He told participants that although the ingredients for potential water conflicts exist, such as higher population pressure, climate change, and much of the world’s fresh water being shared by two or more countries, studies show that water sharing is much more likely to lead to cooperation than conflict.