We are facing a global water crisis

Warning of "global water crisis"

On the occasion of World Water Day this Wednesday, environmentalists have warned of a global water crisis. Due to climate change as well as population and economic growth, especially in developing and emerging countries, there is a risk of a "dangerous aggravation" of the situation by 2030, explained the nature conservation organization WWF.

Devastating consequences for humans and nature

The WWF explained that parts of Europe and the USA were also affected by the "global water crisis". Without suitable countermeasures, devastating consequences for humans and nature can be expected. According to the WWF, freshwater resources will in future be used most heavily in areas "where the population is growing, the economy is booming and climate change is particularly severe". This could "destabilize entire regions," warned Philip Wagnitz, freshwater advisor at WWF Germany. Accordingly, droughts or an inadequate water supply are often at the beginning of conflicts and refugee movements: "No water means no food, no food means instability, instability means conflict, conflict means flight". As simple as the causal chain sounds, "it is so true in many parts of the world," explained Wagnitz.

On the WWF's water crisis map, some regions in the industrialized nations also show the highest risk level. A destructive overexploitation of the groundwater for growing vegetables in Andalusia in southern Spain is contributing to this. An average of 64 liters of water would be required there for one kilogram of tomatoes. In Morocco it is 98 liters, in southern Italy even 115 liters.

But despite the very efficient irrigation of the Andalusian farms, the local groundwater reservoirs continue to sink every year - in some places even by up to ten meters per year, it was said. The water resources dwindled because the arable land is breaking natural boundaries and state regulation is not taking effect.

From stinking broth to valuable raw material

Where some only see mud and dirt, UNESCO identifies decisive opportunities. In its report on World Water Day, the World Cultural Organization suggests that wastewater should be viewed more as a resource. So far, water supply is the only political priority in many countries. However, water abstraction and treatment, as well as the safe use of wastewater, could help with both economic and environmental problems.

The demand for water is growing worldwide. As a result, the amount and pollution of wastewater also increased, according to the report. It is estimated that less than 20 percent of the world's wastewater is treated. In countries with low incomes it is only eight percent, in those with incomes in the upper average range 38 percent. Pathogens and pollutants from untreated wastewater are dangerous for people and ecosystems.

cr / wa (dpa, afp, kna, epd)