Life without the Sustainable Development Goals for water?

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The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was recently held in Glasgow (Scotland). This meeting aimed to accelerate action towards reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Climate change is already affecting public health, food and water safety, migration, peace and security. Investing in sustainable development is key to addressing this situation, as it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen climate resilience. Thus, tackling climate change and fostering sustainable development are two sides of the same coin.

In 2015, the UN approved the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda to combat the climate crisis and improve sustainability. They include the fight against climate change, the eradication of poverty, the improvement of education, women’s equality, environmental protection and the design of our cities. Sustainable Development Goals for water are also included in the 2030 Agenda due to the relevance of this resource in sustainability.

Sustainable Development Goals for water and sanitation

One of the SDGs is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all (Goal 6). While substantial progress has been made in increasing access to clean drinking water and sanitation, billions of people (mostly in rural areas) still lack these basic services. Worldwide, one in three people do not have safe drinking water and two out of five do not have a basic hand-washing facility with soap and water.

Sustainable Development Goals for water

Moreover, water scarcity affects more than 40% of the world’s population nowadays and this percentage could increase in the future. In addition, more than 80% of the wastewater resulting from human activity is dumped into rivers or the sea without any treatment, causing pollution.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of sanitation, hygiene and proper access to clean water in preventing and containing diseases. According to the World Health Organization, handwashing is one of the most effective actions to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus.

The Sustainable Development Goal for water also aims to improve the quality of this valuable resource by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse globally. The goal also seeks to implement integrated water management at all levels, even through transboundary cooperation.

Towards more sustainable water management

Water is an essential resource for our survival and, now more than ever, we need to use it efficiently. Today, more than 1.7 billion people live in river basins where water use exceeds recharge. This implies that two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in water-scarce countries by 2025. The use of water can pose a serious challenge to sustainable development, but if managed efficiently and equitably, it will play a key role in strengthening the resilience of society, the economy and the environment in the face of rapid, unpredictable change.

By sustainably managing our water resources, we will also be able to better manage our food and energy production and contribute to decent work conditions and economic growth. In addition, we will be able to preserve our water ecosystems and take action to combat climate change.

Given the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals for water, Idrica is committed to managing this resource more efficiently. Through its services and the GoAigua technology, it optimizes utility processes and improves efficiency in asset management, water use and energy consumption in more than 400 cities worldwide.

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