The water crisis currently unfolding in northeastern Spain is unlike anything seen in the past century. It sheds light on various shortcomings in water management practices prevalent in numerous arid regions of the developed world grappling with the changing climate. Catalonia's water issues provide valuable insights, offering an opportunity to devise effective solutions that can serve as a reference point.
Nowhere is the vulnerability caused by the lack of access to water more evident than in Africa. It is a source of dispute and violence but also of hopeful alliances to face a future of stability and sustainable development, far from the pressing need to migrate. Achieving gender equality is another fundamental driver for achieving this.
At COP 28, the relationship between climate change and health, war, and peace had a specific day focused on the needs of the people most vulnerable to conflicts, droughts, and floods. The Climate Change, Water, and Peace debate presented the forms of cooperation that arise from the lack of water resources and allow us to face this severe crisis.
Olive oil is an example of how climate inflation impacts consumers of an ancestral product. This crisis reveals the delicate balance between agriculture and water in dry regions. The overexploitation of aquifers is its worst consequence, forcing us to reconsider intensive agriculture and move towards ecological recovery and sustainable agriculture.
The future of food security depends on achieving maximum efficiency in agricultural water use. Nearly three quarters of the freshwater we withdraw is used for crops and livestock. Irrigating efficiently and developing low water footprint methods will enable us to cope with the water stress that climate change is only increasing.
Those who leave their land because of droughts and floods often do not return. They lived directly off land that has become barren. The legal vacuum of their situation leaves millions of displaced people helpless. It is a rapidly growing phenomenon, but one that we can stop and reverse.
Rainfall is a critical parameter in the global economic balance. Droughts are more damaging in the most disadvantaged economies, and their negative impact is magnified where there has been less rainfall in the past. Rainfall variability, generated by global warming, adds uncertainty. A recent World Bank study alerts us and provides an alternative vision for moving forward.
Water stress is increasingly present all across the world. If we do not take measures in the short term, the situation will be critical by the middle of this century and will seriously threaten the world's geopolitical balance. The data are compelling. Demographics, the growth of extractivism, and climate change are against us. On the positive side, we have the growing awareness of governments and companies and increasingly knowledgeable citizens.
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