Water is the foundation of life and livelihoods and is a key to sustainable development. Successful water management will serve as a foundation for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which is to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.’ Water is essential to life, yet 785 million people in this world lack access to it. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is the fourth global risk in terms of impact on society. The world’s water crisis is an urgent matter that must be addressed, according to environmental policy expert, Brian Helmuth, a professor of Marine and Environmental Science and Public Policy at Northeastern University. While the effectiveness of water management varies dramatically between countries, a rapid scale in effort and resources are needed for most countries to achieve Sustainable Development. Continuing cooperation and coordination between nations are crucial to ensuring water is available for economic, human, and environmental needs. Countries all over the world are cooperatively managing growing resource pressures so that there are fewer water conflicts in the future.
Water covers 70% of our planet and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful, freshwater- the stuff we drink, bathe in, irrigate our farm fields with- is incredibly rare. Without clean, easily accessible water, families and communities are locked in poverty for generations, children drop out of school, and parents struggle to make a living. Water insecurity can be exacerbated by drought, with significant impacts on agriculture, in particular, resulting in an annual grain production loss. The failure of water systems is often considered a governance issue. In the water sector, the fragmentation of accountabilities hinders and undermines transparency and economic efficiency and opens doors for corruption.
Different conceptualizations of water can and have led to conflict. The perception of water as a human right and common public and environmental good is often opposed by the view of water as a commodity that needs to be priced to ensure efficient and sustainable use. Not only nations but provinces and communities will need to align water perspectives to allow for peaceful and effective integrated water resource management and sustainable use. The worldwide water problem is being focused by Myra Craft Open classroom Series, which will be co-led by the Helmuth as well as Joan Fitzgerald, professor and interim dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern. The semester’s series aligns with Northeastern’s focus on solving global challenges in health, security, and sustainability. Throughout the series, the topics of discussions will range from water scarcity, desalinisation, fisheries and aquaculture to energy, economics, national security, and human health. Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. Rivers, lakes, and aquifers are becoming too polluted to use. World vision’s goal is that by 2030 all communities located within our development areas worldwide will have access to clean water, adequate sanitation, hand washing facilities, and menstrual hygiene facilities. Access to clean water is a stepping stone to development. Communities no longer vie for rights to a waterhole.