Will algorithms and big data be able to control the 42,000 km3of usable fresh water all around the world? Will they be able to monitor its efficient use worldwide? Will they guarantee universal access to water? Will they create inequalities in decision-making to face the climate crisis? These are not science-fiction questions; in the smart world that is already underway, they point towards a future that is the goal of the current technological development based on big data and artificial intelligence.
The fight against the global eradication of trachoma needs a final push. The terrible disease, which causes blindness in 1.9 million people, requires surgery and antibiotics, but also clean water, hygiene and sanitation. The slowdown due to Covid-19 can be reversed in a joint and complementary move toward eradicating both diseases in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in the world.
Nature is our most important asset. Not only is it the base of our economy, it is also an essential part of ourselves. If it gets sick, we all get sick. And its health has significantly deteriorated in the past few decades without traditional economy taking this into account. It is urgent to move forward so that economic advances include nature in the definition of wealth and water is a good indicator. Revising the concept of GDP is a first step.
When is a country known to be water efficient, and is its agriculture, industry or urban supply water efficient? The attainment of the SDG 6 by 2030 forces us to provide an answer to these questions. UN Water has developed certain indicators to help manage water efficiency and also to understand it.
Statistics have overlooked them until now, but they are the closest to people. Scattered trees have been crucial for rural economies and vital for the survival in arid regions. We now have tools to know more about them and corroborate their importance in the environmental balance, the fight against desertification and soil management.
Floods caused by violent rainfall frequently exceed the capacity of the sewage system and spill all kinds of pollutants into rivers and seas. Adapting urban sanitation systems to these phenomena is vital for the health and preservation of the environment. It is one of the challenges of the smart age in the face of an increasingly urban future. Investments must reach all for results to be sustainable.
The pandemic and the climate crisis have shown us that we do not react to warnings until we are faced with the evidence. We face a new age of uncertainty that forces us to adapt to the constant changes that will arise. Now, the existing warning is that risks will be collective and unavoidably shared. Science and solidarity are our key assets to move forward.
In all activities carried out during this hard year, we have been faced with human suffering, but we have also found hope. Hope generated by the knowledge of being understood and helped; the one generated by the enthusiasm and generosity of the institutions we collaborate with. These have redoubled their efforts despite all difficulties and deserve our admiration and gratitude. We will continue to be there, collaborating to overcome them, because we share the conviction that solidarity is a never ending asset.
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