By Xuefei Chen Axelsson
Stockholm, Aug. 28, (Greenpost) – World leaders, water experts, development professionals, policy-makers and students have gathered in Stockholm for a week-long meeting focused on finding ways to better use, and reuse, the world’s increasingly scarce fresh water.
The opening plenary of the water week began with Swedish Astronaut Christer Fulgesang telling about his stories in the spaceship.
Fuglesang said there is a very sophosticated water reuse system in the space which can treat their urin into drinking water. Grapes can be grown there and many advanced technologies can be used to make water use more efficiently.
During this year’s water week, people talk more about the term “water scarcity” . As more countries, and cities, experience the effects of high population pressure and less available freshwater, the interest among policy-makers, businesses, and citizens grows. The realization is there. We need to become more efficient water users. We need to make some drastic changes.
“World Water Week is a key meeting place for the water and development community; it is here that we come together and make sure that the very best ideas are brought forward,” said SIWI’s Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren.
Holmgren said water is not a sector, it is a connecter linking all sectors in our daily life.
World Water Week is the world’s biggest global annual meeting focusing on water and development. It is organized by SIWI, Stockholm International Water Institute. The Week draws over 3,000 participants from nearly 130 countries, who come to Stockholm to learn about new research results, share experiences, discuss progress in the implementation of the Global Goals, and together try to find new ways to meet the world’s growing water challenges.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Peter Thomson, called the world’s climate and water resources the “fundament of our existence”, and said that “Without proper stewardship of that fundament the 2030 sustainable development agenda obviously goes nowhere. Because without the fundament we can’t exist.”
“Together with the Paris Climate Agreement, implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals represents the best chance our species has to achieve a sustainable way of life on Planet Earth before it is too late”, he said adding that we must take inclusive and integrated approach to involve all kinds of people and expertise together.
Sweden’s Minister for Environment, Karolina Skog said that “Sustainable and efficient management of our water and wastewater has a profound effect on all aspects of human life; economic growth, sustainable development, sustainable city planning, circular thinking in industry and in production, energy saving, good quality of our water and, last but not least, it is crucial for health and for a sustainable environment.”
Another central aspect of efficient water use, is to use less. In his welcoming speech Holmgren pointed out that it will be challenging but necessary to change large-scale water consumption patterns:
“The Week’s theme, Water and waste: Reduce and reuse, really touches the very core of our daily lives. To reduce, some drastic changes will be necessary – especially by the main water users, including industries, energy producers and the agriculture sector.”
He added that changes are also needed in how we think about reuse of water: “I think that it is very important to try and change the mind-set around waste. Rather than presenting us with a problem, we can view waste as an asset also becoming a business opportunity.”
Stephen McCaffrey, 2017 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate and a Professor in water law, spoke of the need for water cooperation and water diplomacy. He told participants that although the ingredients for potential water conflicts exist, such as higher population pressure, climate change, and much of the world’s fresh water being shared by two or more countries, studies show that water sharing is much more likely to lead to cooperation than conflict.
The grand opening plenary ends with Kevin Rudd led panel discussion on how to prioritize and financing water issue with participation of Swedish, Danish, Malaysian, World Bank, Ecuador and Ethiopian leaders.
Beginning from 1990, SIWI is a water institute, working to improve the way freshwater resources are governed. By combining its areas of expertise with its unique convening power, SIWI influences decision-makers, facilitates dialogue and builds knowledge in water issues, thereby contributing to a just, prosperous and sustainable future for all.
About World Water Week: World Water Week is the largest annual meeting for water and development issues, organized by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). The Week brings together more than 3,000 participants from nearly 130 countries representing actors from governments, private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society and academia to shape joint solutions to global water challenges. The Week strives for equal gender participation. At this year’s Week, 46 per cent of participants are female, and 54 per cent are male.
Note to Editors:
- Information about World Water Week and Stockholm International Water Institute; www.worldwaterweek.org and www.siwi.org
- Online programme: http://programme.worldwaterweek.org
- Press briefings, press releases and interview requests: http://www.worldwaterweek.org/pressroom
- Video: http://www.siwi.org/mediahub, http://www.youtube.com/SIWI_water
- Livestream: http://www.worldwaterweek.org/live
- Pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/siwi_water
- Twitter: @siwi_water, #WWWeek
- Facebook: Stockholm International Water Institute
- Instagram: siwi_water
- WaterFront 2-3/2017 focused on water reuse: http://www.siwi.org/publications/stockholm-water-front-no-2-3-2017/
- SIWI’s latest policy brief: http://www.siwi.org/publications/freshwater-oceans-working-together-face-climate-change/