At the eastern tip of the Horn of Africa, Somalia is struggling with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Recurrent droughts and endemic violence plague the country and show the complexity of the challenge the international community must face.
A new project in Sierra Leone shows us the importance of ensuring water and sanitation in schools to reverse the impoverishment of neglected rural areas. Passing on to students the ability to manage the facilities turns them into educational agents in their communities, ensures sustainability, and gives them an empowered future.
COP15 on biodiversity has been the first in which the private sector has participated. It is a realistic and practical step forward that reverses the flow of pressure from citizens and companies to political power and promotes the understanding of natural capital as an irreplaceable value that must be preserved.
Desalination is an option for reducing water stress that has advanced spectacularly. It is a process that faces the challenges of reducing costs, avoiding gas emissions, and solving the polluting problems of brine, its main waste product. It can be an option for developing countries, provided its suitability is evaluated, the technological gap is eliminated with the appropriate alliances, and public-private collaboration is adopted as a fair and effective model.
In this turbulent 2022, we have helped people displaced by war and improved the lives of farmers and schoolchildren. The rights of women and children to access water, sanitation, and hygiene have remained our main focus. We have participated in major international debates on climate and water, promoting dialogue and awareness. But it is not enough; we must continue to move forward to turn water and sanitation from a problem into a solution.
The "loss and damage" fund is undoubtedly a step forward, but many urgent issues seem to have taken a back seat at COP27. We still lack clear and consensus-based agreements on mitigating global warming and the deterioration of biodiversity. Water has, however, gained considerable prominence, and there are hopeful initiatives.
We owe our present existence to hair loss and sweat on bare skin. These evolutionary traits gave us thermoregulation, which allowed us to thrive outside the shade of the forest. It also created a total dependence on immediate access to water that has stayed with us to this day.
They have been our partners in evolution, and now they are under threat. Wetlands represent the subtle link between land and water, which is why they suffer the consequences of climate change, overexploitation, and pollution. They should be considered internationally as carbon sinks and crucial ecosystems for 40% of the world's biodiversity. They are the best sustainability advisors we have.
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