While you were standing at the sink filling up the coffee pot this morning, you may not have been thinking about your good fortune. But consider this: While most of us simply turn on the tap for clean H2O, there are 2.1 billion people across the world who lack access to safe drinking water.
It’s one of the things that World Water Day, held annually on March 22, aims to change. This year’s theme, Nature for Water, looks to find natural solutions to “overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.”
Over the quarter-century since the first World Water Day, the event has continued to grow: This year’s commemorations include the 8th annual World Water Forum, which started Sunday and ends on Friday.
Recognizing the world’s shrinking fresh water supply gets more important every year. Did you know that scientists estimate the world’s population will have grown by about 2 billion people by 2050 — and that the demand for water could increase up to 30 percent?
Here are a few more facts and figures from the World Water Day website:
- Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global water withdrawals, mostly for irrigation – a figure which rises in areas of high water stress and population density.
- Industry — dominated by energy and manufacturing — accounts for 20 percent of the total.
- Domestic use accounts for the remaining 10 percent; much less than 1 percent of that is used for drinking water.
Scientists have shown that environmental damage and climate change are the main forces behind the water crises we see around the world. And according to the World Water Day website, the answers to many of our water woes lie in fixing what we’ve broken: Water pollution, floods and drought are exacerbated by “degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes. … When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive. Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.”
What can you do to help save our water at home? Plenty.
- Create a buffer zone
- Plant trees
- Conserve water
- Install rain barrels
- Reduce your carbon footprint.
- Reduce or eliminate your use of chemical fertilizers — and chemicals in general.
To read more about World Water Day, click here.
You can find posters, certificates, web banners and other resources here.
You can find educational Water Games here.