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© Arne Hoel / World Bank

To reduce and recycle, to distribute and cooperate

September 19, 2017

In order to achieve the development goals of humanity we require a paradigm shift in our global relationship with water resources. To reduce, recycle and distribute water with effectiveness and equity are the keys to the sustainability of the planet. At the World Water Week in Stockholm, over 3,200 experts have shown and discussed the most advanced studies about this global challenge. 

"Along with the Paris Agreement, the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals represents the best opportunity for mankind to achieve a sustainable way of life on Earth before it is too late.” Peter Thomson, the president of the General Assembly of United Nations, opened the World Water Week in Stockholm with these words and pointed out that the water resources have become the “core idea of our existence and their adequate management is the base to achieve the 17 Goals by 2030", a global challenge that involves each one of us.

This year in particular, the awareness of the global nature of this issue has been common among the over 3,200 experts from 133 countries who have gathered to discuss in depth the great water and sanitation challenges at the World Water Week, which has taken place from the 27th August to the 1st September in Stockholm. After the controversial decision taken by the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to give up the Paris Agreements, the scientific and institutional world gathered at Sweden´s capital has had a practically unanimous reaction: now more than ever we need to advance together to learn and share the knowledge of what is happening with water on Earth and to find global solutions, no one can remain uninvolved.

The World Water Week is the central event of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). This call started in 1991, and it has become the annual meeting point for the international community involved in the solution of the severe water problems affecting humanity. This year it has been represented by more than 350 organizations that have addressed the issue Water and Waste sharing the most relevant knowledge and the progress of the research on the present and future of sanitation and the circular economy applied to water in over 230 sessions (seminars, conferences and debates). 

Torgny Holmgren, executive director of SIWI, summarized the essence of the challenge we face every day and which forces a paradigm shift in regard to water: “To reduce and reuse are actions that should be at the core of our daily existence. In order to reduce, some drastic changes will need to be implemented, especially by the main users of water, including industries, energy producers and the agricultural sector."

One of the main difficulties to achieve the full access to water and sanitation are the population explosion, climate change and the social and war conflicts. On the opening day, Stephen McCaffrey, awarded with the Stockholm Water Award in 2017 and water law professor, sent out a message of hope based on the necessary diplomatic cooperation in water issues: “Although negative factors such as demographic pressure or droughts are constantly arising, the studies show that it is much more probable that the water distribution leads to cooperation than to conflict.”

You can check the program at SIWI´s website and download the presentations. They are a useful summary of the progress of scientific research, successful cases and methodologies that currently make up the complex factors of the great challenge we are facing. The We Are Water Foundation fully undertakes the goals of the World Water Week in Stockholm and presents its projects based on this constantly evolving knowledge that needs to be followed, shared and above all, applied.