In recent years, severe droughts and heat waves have triggered a water crisis in the basin of the Euphrates, Syria's main river and the cradle of the first civilization in history. Its deterioration threatens the survival of a population exhausted by more than a decade of war in which lack of water has been used as a ruthless weapon.
The environmental and psychological impact of droughts is most significant in those areas where they are rare. In recent months, people in large areas of the northern hemisphere's wetlands have experienced unprecedented water shortages since records exist. Extraordinary measures have been taken, while millions have experienced water stress for the first time. May their astonishment serve to fight global warming.
Millions of households around the world need water from tanker trucks to live. Droughts, overexploitation, pollution, and lack of investment in infrastructure make this population grow by the day. It is an essential type of supply when all else fails, but it is often informal, unregulated, and without health guarantees. We must consider this so that this solution is fair for everyone and does not jeopardize the future of access to water.
Making the food system sustainable is one of the major challenges of this decade. Beyond health, there is growing evidence of the impact of the food system on climate, the environment and access to water. Climatologists warn that this link must be considered to achieve the SDGs.
In summer, extreme heat episodes are becoming more frequent. They start earlier and are more intense. Heat waves add a negative factor to climate change, which becomes a serious global health problem that can accelerate desertification processes and significantly alter the environment. We must mitigate global warming and adapt to living with more heat.
India is the world’s largest groundwater extractor. The country is home to 16% of the world’s population but has only 4% of the planet’s freshwater resources. Many of its aquifers are overexploited. The solutions lie in promoting efficiency in local water management. This will only be possible if communities are involved in solutions and if they acquire knowledge and governance rights. A role model for dryland agriculture.
Concurrent droughts, occurring at the same time in different regions of the world, are the most concerning phenomena for ending hunger. Their effects, combined with economic crises, wars and political instability, are often devastating in humanitarian terms for the poorest countries and have dire consequences on a global scale. Climate science is redoubling its efforts to improve forecasting. But international political action is essential.
Spain is one of the most water-stressed industrialized countries in the world. The country faces the challenge of ensuring long-term water security. Water governance is endemically lagging in promoting investment and public-private partnerships. Citizens need to be part of the solutions, understanding the complexity and cost of the whole water cycle. Spain's actions can be a hopeful reference for the more than 2.5 billion inhabitants of the world's drylands.
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