UN warns that ‘vampiric consumption’ is draining the world’s water resources


    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, March 22) – On Wednesday, the United Nations held its first conference on water security for almost 50 years to urge governments to better manage one human shared resource.

    According to the U.N., 25% of the world’s population rely on unsafe drinking water and half lack basic sanitation. Nearly three quarters of all recent disasters were related to water.

    Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General, stated that “We are draining humanity’s lifeblood through vampiric excess consumption and unsustainable use and evaporating them through global heating.”

    Access to clean drinking water is one of 17 priorities that the U.N. has established for sustainable development. It also includes ending hunger, poverty, gender equality, and taking action against climate change.

    The three-day conference that begins Wednesday in New York does not intend to produce the binding agreement that emerged in Paris in 2015 or a framework similar to the one for Montreal nature protection in 2022.

    As drinking water supplies have plummeted to their lowest level since 1990, a football shoe is seen on the Baells reservoir’s cracked ground. This is because of extreme drought in Catalonia, in Cersc, Spain, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

    Instead, the goal is to create a “Water Action Agenda”, which will include voluntary commitments and “political momentum”.

    The United States announced that it would invest $49B in water and sanitation both at home and abroad.

    U.S. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas Greenfield stated that this money would help create jobs, prevent conflict, safeguard public health and reduce the risk for famine and hunger, as well as enable us to respond climate change and natural catastrophes. She did not give any details about the timeline or how much money would go where.

    Before the conference began, hundreds of action plans were sent out to the U.N. The World Resources Institute research group stated that while some commitments offer inspiration, more miss the mark. They lack funding or performance targets or neglect to address climate change.

    WRI praised two projects: one that will spend $21.2 million on “climate smart” agriculture and restoration of wetland in the desertifying Niger River Basin, and another that is made up of 1,729 companies who calculate they can make water-related investment worth $436 billion.

    The Global Commission on the Economics of Water, a group of scientists, economists, and policy experts from the Netherlands, recommended that $700 billion in agricultural subsidies and water subsidies be phased out and that partnerships be established between private investors and development finance institutions to improve water systems.

    Reporting by Isla Bonny
    Editing by Mark Potter and Bill Berkrot. Diane Craft

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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