International High Level Panel on water raises awareness on the severity of global water issues

The High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) has released their outcomes report on water issues following two years of deliberations. The Panel, co-convened by United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, highlighted the reality that 2.5 billion people worldwide already live in water-scarce regions.

The HLPW is a two-year time bound initiative comprised of 11 sitting Heads of State and Government as well as a special advisor. The pressing need for global action on water issues ignited the formation of the HLPW with the common goal of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with particular focus on SDG6, ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Cities around the world are suffering due to water-related issues, and water scarcity, in particular, continues to be at the root of global and urban problems. Nearly 40 per cent of the global population already face water scarcity, and this figure is likely to increase to 66% by 2025 should appropriate measures not be adopted. The HLPW’s outcome report expresses the dire need to increase investment in water infrastructure in order to achieve SDG6 and adequately manage water financing. The panel cites that failure to improve water resource management could decrease national growth rates by 6 per cent of GDP by 2050.

In an effort to increase action to solve the world’s water-related challenges, the World Water Council has produced a report, Ten Action Points for Financing Water Infrastructure, which identifies the barriers to finance flows from non-traditionalsources and highlights opportunities for progression and bridging the financial gap for water infrastructure. The ten-point action plan emphasises the link between increased water security and economic growth worldwide, underlining the important role played by water across all sectors. The action plan will help authorities to adequately manage financing and unlock funds to boost water infrastructure and ensure the future of water, forming part of the World Water Council’s ongoing efforts to achieve greater water security globally.

The Roundtable on Financing Water, established by the World Water Council, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and The Netherlands, convened a high-level panel during the ongoing 8th World Water Forum, in Brasilia, Brazil. The panel aims to disseminate the key messages from the High-Level Panel on Water outcomes, focusing on valuing and financing water in an effort to lead the way forward. The panel, which engaged governments, development finance institutions, private financiers, as well as NGOs, helped to facilitate the outcomes projected by the HLPW and identify solutions to overcome the barriers to adequate financing for water.

“There are ways to address problems and avoid water scarcity and crises. Increasing availability and resilience through securing our water resources is paramount. This involves the release of funds for sufficiently financing the construction of dams, reservoirs and repairing water mains,” World Water Council President, Benedito Braga, explained. “In addition, there must be a rational use of water, which means all sectors must share sources fairly and encourage citizens to be efficient with water use in their own homes. Industry needs to recycle and reuse water and ensure that irrigation uses more efficient methods. If actions are taken sooner rather than later and decision-makers invest in water security, our water resources can be managed more effectively, and communities will be better protected from crises.”

Founded by the World Water Council, the World Water Forum represents an international meeting point to discuss water-related challenges and find solutions for the world’s most pressing water issues, including financial ones.

The 8th World Water Forum, which took place in Brasilia, was held under the over-arching theme of Sharing Water, in light of water’s role in uniting communities and tearing down barriers. The World Water Council welcomed those from every corner of the globe to join the world’s biggest water-related event, bringing together heads of state, ministers, high-level decision makers, water experts and professionals, civil society, local authorities, and academics, placing water firmly at the heart of global development and calling on citizens to act to ensure a sustainable future.