Today, 1.42 billion people – live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability. Less than 3% of the world’s water resources is freshwater, and it is growing increasingly scarce. Decades of misuse, poor management, over-extraction of groundwater and contamination of freshwater supplies have exacerbated water stress. At the same time, demand for water is rising due to rapid population growth, urbanization and increasing water needs from a range of sectors, notably agriculture, industry and energy.
Climate change is also compounding water scarcity through changing precipitation patterns and increased water demand. Many changes in climate are felt through water – droughts, floods and rising sea levels – and extreme weather events can damage vital water and sanitation infrastructure. Rising sea levels can lead to saltwater intrusion, contaminating drinking water supplies. Rapid melting of glaciers changes the river flow patterns in the downstream areas, contributing to risks of flooding, damage to infrastructure (including dam bursts), as well as low flows in rivers, reducing the amount of water available.
The private sector can be a key partner in testing and scaling innovations to improve both water use efficiency, quality and treatment, and reuse. This event will present some key technology developments in the sector.
UNICEF (2021): Water Security for All