March 22nd is all about water every year. The United Nations established World Water Day in 1993 and aims to invite member states of the United Nations to introduce global water issues to a wide audience on that day. What are the biggest challenges and how can you help? Let’s sort it out.
The United Nations Water Conference will be held in New York from 22-24 March. The conference has been described by some as the “Paris Water Moment,” a reference to the Paris Climate Summit in 2015. It is thus the first time in nearly 50 years that a conference on water has been staged, and the stakes are high.
“Our priority is to wake up the world, to help everyone better understand, value and manage water,” said Nathalie Olegslegger, Dutch program manager at the UN Regional Information Centre. “As the population on our planet grows, we don’t really think about how much water we have, nor how we use or reuse it. Groundwater is depleting faster than we can replenish it; water is becoming increasingly polluted, which not only affects our health but also the economy. We hope to create momentum to show that we care about and invest in water.”
The conference focuses on four themes. “First, water for health: there are still billions of people who do not have access to clean water and sanitation,” says Oligsläger. Second, water for sustainable development: how much water do we use for our economy and food production? We must make it clear that water is also the engine of our economy. Third, water for the climate: People are aware of the climate crisis, but we still need to invest in it, because if you invest up front, you save lives and have less economic damage. Fourth, water for cooperation: water is an international shared good. It is very important to ensure good cooperation and to make countries aware that we all depend on water and depend on good water supplies. It is important to avoid that the action plan (“Water Agenda,” editor’s note) that we will put together during the conference ends up in the drawer.”
And that a clear plan of action is needed from the figures below. In 1998, water management professor Arjen Hoekstra coined the term “water footprint”. The water footprint measures the total volume of fresh water used to make the goods and services that an individual consumes. And fresh water is used generously to produce all of these things. According to the Water Footprint Network, every Belgian consumes 5,200 liters per day. That’s enough to fill 70 bathtubs. This means that the water footprint of the Belgian is higher than the European average, at 4992 liters per day per capita. Belgium also has a much higher water consumption than its neighbors the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. The average water footprint of the world’s population is 3,800 liters per day.
5,200 liters a day, you might think impossible. However, it is the hard truth. It’s not just about the water you use directly: like the water you drink, cook, or use while you shower. “A water footprint does not directly map water,” Join For Water writes. “We also look at the amount of water needed to make the piece of meat you eat, the jeans you wear, the coffee you drink…” For example, the average production cost for this cup of coffee is 123 liters of water, a glass of Spanish wine is 190 and a T-shirt is 3000 liters . And this can have serious consequences: “If available water resources are not used sustainably, lakes, rivers and aquifers may be depleted. This can have disastrous consequences for people and nature,” concludes Join For Water.
This way you reduce your water footprint
Tips to reduce your water footprint:
– Drink dandelion coffee instead of regular coffee
Dandelion is a European plant and can grow in Belgium.
Did you buy a kilo of beef? Production requires 15,000 liters of water. Most of the liters went to the production of animal feed.
The water footprint is six times smaller than bottled water because no water is required for bottle production and transportation
– Don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth
One to two liters of water can be lost if the tap is not turned off.
Calculate your water footprint at waterchallenge.be
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