To meet the challenge of global water scarcity, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) called for governments around the world to better manage how they use their existing water resources, taking necessary and sometimes painful measures to decrease losses in water delivery infrastructure and irrigation, to cut subsidies to agriculture, and to put in place realistic water-pricing measures – all before attempting to boost water supplies.
The call will be issued through SIWI’s new policy brief, On the Verge of a New Water Scarcity, which is being released in conjunction with the opening of the 2007 World Water Week in Stockholm. Themed “Progress and Prospects on Water: Striving for Sustainability in a Changing World,” the event will witness the launch of a number of new and groundbreaking studies, reports and initiatives designed to improve a global situation where billions of people are without sustainable access to safe drinking water or suffering ill health due to poor sanitation, where bioenergy demands are diverting water from food production, and where global climate change is affecting the overall water balance. Some 2,500 experts from 140 countries are expected to participate in Stockholm from August 12 to 18.
SIWI and the Swedish Water House will release four policy brief and reports containing research and recommendations on water, sustainability, health and development. The United Nations says 20% of the world’s population in 30 countries faces water shortages and that by 2025 the numbers will be 30% and 50 countries, respectively. The SIWI policy brief says a clear distinction must be made between “apparent” scarcity, where there is plenty of water, albeit inefficiently and wastefully used, and “real” scarcity due to lack of rain. The distinctions are important because they imply different responses by governments.