Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UN, other experts warn of 'water bankruptcy' for many regions after reviewing 200 major global projects

24.09.2012
Study highlights horizon issues for world's freshwater and marine systems

A study of almost 200 major international water-related projects over the past 20 years has identified a suite of existing and emerging challenges and how science can offer remedies.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment and promote sustainable development, partnered with the United Nations University and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to extract lessons from a portfolio of major transboundary water projects involving investments of more than US$7 billion.

Insufficient and disjointed management of human demands on water and aquatic systems has led to situations where both social and ecological systems are in jeopardy and have even collapsed, says the report.

River basins in particular are set to experience growing pressures due to urbanization, rising water scarcity and poor water quality.

Investing in science, in order to identify emerging issues and track trends relating to the use of water resources, can help to reduce such risks, according to the study. Links between science and policymaking also need to be strengthened.

Several success stories of research investments that paid rich dividends are also highlighted in the report.

These include efforts to rid Lake Victoria of alien water hyacinths, where an unsuccessful project using harvesting and chopping machines was replaced with biological control of the hyacinths using a weevil. The GEF-backed approach yielded immediate positive results for biodiversity and local communities.

The new report, Science-Policy Bridges over Troubled Waters, synthesizes findings of over 90 scientists worldwide assigned to five GEF International Water Science (IW:Science) working groups focusing on groundwater, lakes, rivers, land-based pollution sources, and large marine ecosystems and the open ocean.

According to the report: "The consequences of poor decision-making are dire: we face a 'water bankruptcy' in many regions of the world with implications for food and energy security, adaptation to climate variability and change, economic growth and human security challenges."

The report was launched on the opening day of the GEF International Waters Science Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference aims to set priorities for international waters science over the next decade and to enhance the use of science in GEF projects and beyond.

Other key findings include:

Levels of dissolved oxygen levels in marine areas (a critical ecological indicator) have dropped significantly over a relatively short time. In 2008, over 400 marine dead zones were known to span a total area of more than 245,000 square kilometers.

The report also highlights a major increase of stored heat in oceans. Such changes could have negative impacts on ecosystems, sea levels and human livelihoods.

The management of groundwater remains isolated from other ecosystems, and the limitations in recharge capacity of aquifers are not well understood by decision makers.

Zafar Adeel, director of the United Nations University International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), and a report co-author, said: "This study underscores how often early 'alarm bells' with respect to emerging issues can be heard and must be heeded. The report offers helpful recommendations to the GEF to foster this process."

Ivan Zavadsky, GEF's International Waters Focal Area Coordinator, notes that over 20 years GEF had catalyzed the largest investment of its kind in human history. GEF's $1.3 billion catalyzed a total of $7 billion of investment in managing shared waters – fresh and marine – in almost every part of the planet, above and below its surface.

"One of the principal lessons from this review is that science must play a more central role in determining the nature and priority of these investments," he said. "This examination of work in the recent past contributes significant insights into the challenges ahead."

"World leaders agreed at the Rio+20 summit in June to strengthen the science-policy interface and to foster international research collaboration on sustainable development. This is especially important in respect to water resources at a point in time of unprecedented pressures from climate change and urbanization to pollution and over extraction," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"Some positive steps are being made, however. UNEP's recent Global Environment Outlook-5 report analyzed progress on 90 key environmental goals. It found that significant progress is being made in improving research to reduce pollution of the marine environment. These achievements need to be registered across the water management challenge including lakes, rivers and aquifers in order to bring water into the centre of development plans en route to an inclusive Green Economy", added Mr Steiner.

The reports of the five IW: Science Working Groups – Groundwater, Lakes, River Basins, Land-based Pollution Sources, and Large Marine Ecosystems and the Open Ocean – and the synthesis report are available online at www.inweh.unu.edu/River/IWScienceReports.htm

Additional contact: UNEP Newsdesk, +254 731 666 214; unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Terry Collins | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.inweh.unu.edu/River/IWScienceReports.htm

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>