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World Water Day Series Part 1—2015’s “Water and Sustainable Development” Theme


Every year, the UN chooses a theme for World Water Day, which is celebrated internationally every March 22nd. This year, the 22nd World Water Day since the program began in 1993, the theme is Water and Sustainable Development. The goal is to prepare for how we, as an international community, will manage water in the future.

 

The World Water Day website subdivided sustainability into seven categories: health, nature, urbanization, industry, energy, food, and equality. Each category presents its own demands on the world’s limited freshwater resources—demands which will continue to grow as the world’s population increases.

world water day

 

Health

The World Health Organization estimates twenty liters of water per day are required per capita to meet basic food and personal hygiene needs. Water for basic sanitation, a given luxury in many parts of the world, can result in substantial economic gains—an estimated return on investment of 5.5 to 1. And providing safe water and sanitation to every person on the planet is attainable, at the cost of US $107 billion a year for only five years. Considering the US alone spends over $58 billion a year on pet care, that’s a reasonable figure.

 

Nature

Sustainable freshwater requires healthy ecosystems, especially lakes, rivers, and wetlands. The UN points out that despite this, most economic models fail to consider the cost of environmental maintenance. By striking a balance between ecosystems and development, we make an investment in our freshwater resources.

 

Urbanization

Ready for some staggering numbers? 50% of the world’s population lives in urban centers, with 93% of city dwellers living in poor or developing countries, and 40% living in rapidly growing slums. To support our increasing urbanization, we need to develop and maintain water and wastewater infrastructures. In many developing cities, wastewater removal facilities are either outdated, inadequate, or non-existent (returning us to the importance of water for health), while poorly maintained water pipes waste more potable water than they deliver.

 

Industry

Whether you’re building a car or canning food, water is vital for manufacturing processes. Even a single sheet of paper requires ten liters of water for production. Industry demands for global water is expected to raise 400% in the first half of this century, placing great strain on freshwater resources unless manufacturers start making sustainable planning choices.

 

Energy

80% of energy comes from thermal energy, which uses water to create the steam that drives generators. At present, this necessitates the use of drinkable freshwater. In the future, alternative water sources such as wastewater and ocean water may replace much of the freshwater used to power our lives.

 

Food

Globally, agriculture places the greatest demand on water, accounting for 70% of all freshwater use. By 2050, the world will need to produce 60% more food than it currently does, increasing agricultural water use even further.

 

While it takes one liter of water to irrigate one calorie of food, poor irrigation processes can raise that to one hundred liters per calorie. By improving irrigation, we can reduce agriculture’s demand on water.

 

Equality

Women and girls in developing countries shoulder most of the responsibility for collecting water—and we mean that literally, with women in such regions spending a quarter of their day hauling water. Doing so perpetuates gender inequality, preventing women from providing income or getting an education.

 

In water-rich countries like the US, it’s easy to overuse water, but we all need to start using water sustainably. At Pelican, we strive to make green, sustainable filtration and water-softening systems, from efficient use of water to minimizing packaging. But sustainability goes further than that. It’s learning to value water as a precious, life-giving commodity. World Water Day tries to instill that value, and we think it’s well worth the effort.

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