Safeguarding the planet's water resources is critical to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That is the message of this year's World Water Week, the annual global conference on water, which starts on Sunday with the theme 'Water for Development.'
2015 is a crucial year for determining the future of the planet’s environmental path. With the global development agenda shifting from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the new SDGs, governments have laid out a new course of priorities and actions. Water is the 'red thread' through each of the 17 SDGs as it is central to our health, food, and a productive economy. Our lives and livelihoods, and those of other species, depend on it.
With growing affluence and an expanding population, energy and food needs will continue to increase. By 2030 we will need 30% more water, 40% more energy, and 10% of existing crop land for biofuels to meet future needs. A reliable and consistent water supply is critical for securing our future economy and wellbeing.
IUCN experts attending the conference will stress that water doesn’t only supply, it also performs. Healthy water ecosystems function as natural infrastructure, for example, mangroves protect shorelines from storms, wetlands filter toxins and floodplains absorb flood water. It has been estimated that safeguarding these ecosystems could save the global economy US$ 29 trillion per year through the water infrastructure services they provide - for free.
Solutions to managing water more equitably and sustainably exist, the onus lies on implementing those solutions and bringing them up to scale. As the outcomes of the World Water Forum in South Korea highlighted earlier this year, consensus is there to move from discussion to action, and create alliances across sectors.
The World Water Week conference provides the platform for bridging divides and forming new partnerships. IUCN's programme of activities at the conference can be found here: IUCN at WWW2015.