Celebrating the International Year of Water Cooperation

24 01 2013

Without water there is no life. Humans, wildlife and agriculture cannot exist without it. The quality, quantity and distribution of water determine the world we live in: our health, physical safety, food security, cities, industries, power supplies and much more.

Millions of people lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation at a time when the demand for water, driven by growing populations and economies, continues to rise. Aging infrastructure and other inefficiencies lead to precious water being lost or wasted. Adding to these stresses, climate change is already affecting hydrological cycle and the pattern and intensity of floods and droughts. According to a recent United Nations survey, most countries report that water related risks and the competition for water resources have increased over the past 20 years.

Recognizing these challenges, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. The purpose is to raise awareness of the many opportunities for governments to collaborate on promoting sustainable water management. The United Nations also established UN-Water as a platform for strengthening corporation within the United Nations system on all aspects of freshwater and sanitation.

Such global partnerships are encouraged by the Millennium Developmental Goals, which also include the goal of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by the year 2015. Partnerships are also essential for addressing climate change and reducing potential conflicts over shared water basins and resources.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) promotes international cooperation on water through its Members [such as Antigua and Barbuda], which include the world’s National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs). WMO contributions include measuring key variables such as rainfall and ground water levels, assessing water supplies, and providing hydrological forecasts for agricultural and urban planning. The WMO World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS) helps countries to establish an accurate, timely and accessible knowledge base for the sustainable development of their freshwater resources.

A further contribution is the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), United Nations-wide initiative led by WMO that assists countries in addressing the risk and opportunities of climate variability and climate change. For example, climate services could help a country ensure that its water infrastructure, such as reservoirs and dams, remains well suited to changes in water supplies, extreme events and other variables shaped by climate. Or, by providing a better understanding of likely changes in the intensity and frequency of droughts or floods, climate services could guide investments in maintaining irrigation canals, building water storage towers, afforesting or reforesting hydrological basins, and so forth.

Together, these various forms of international cooperation offer the best path forward to a future where people everywhere can exercise their human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

 

The above was taken from the WMO calendar for 2013

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