UNU-INWEH Media Coverage
Selected Coverage Summary
Below is a collection of selected annual press coverage for UNU-INWEH’s projects and initiatives.
Last month the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust co-hosted a world-class symposium on water stewardship in a changing climate. Bob Sandford, Canadian water expert and professor at the UN University, spoke on The Hard Work of Hope, the title of his recent book, to an audience composed mainly of municipal-level water managers and noted that this event had attracted worldwide attention because local community is where we live and where the actions to prevent the worst climate chaos must be taken. READ MORE
Canadians should be worried about the ecological impact of an enormous industrial plant planned for Wisconsin, a leading voice on water conservation says.
Bob Sandford, the EPCOR Chair for Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, warned that while Canada seems to enjoy an abundance of water resources, the supply isn’t limitless and needs to be protected. READ MORE
With its eco-chic hotels, yoga retreats, Mayan ruins, luscious jungles and turquoise ocean, the Mexican town of Tulum has become the new bohemian hotspot. But at a devastating cost to the environment. READ MORE
World Water Day turned 25 on March 22. On that day, as UN-Water noted, 1.8 billion people were using a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. READ MORE
Snowpack levels in the Rocky Mountains are higher than normal after a flurry-filled winter, but flooding isn’t necessarily a concern as temperatures begin to warm up.
Snow samples in the mountains indicated snowpacks were 122 percent of average in the Bow River basin and 132 percent of average in the Oldman River basin as of March 1, according to Alberta Environment river forecast engineer Zahid Qureshi. READ MORE
A strongly entrenched narrative within our society that has pictured humanity as being somehow above global material and energy cycles, with no need to consider the finiteness of the Earth’s resources, has proven to be wrong and dangerous. As a society, we have to come back down to Earth. READ MORE
Ghana is in the process of turning all water reservoirs into security zones to safeguard the provision of the quality treated water for the people. The Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission (WRC), Ben Ampomah has disclosed this at the United Nations University-Institute of Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) Stakeholders’ Engagement workshop on the 61st National Level Learning Alliance Platform (NLLAP) held in Accra. READ MORE
Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain Tuesday emphasized that collaborative efforts and appropriate planning, right from policy makers to users were required to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. READ MORE
Canadians see fresh water as the country’s most important resource, but worry the country faces a growing risk to the quality and adequate supply of clean water, a new poll from the Royal Bank of Canada says. READ MORE
South East Asian experts shared lessons on governance of coastal ecosystems
International experts in the field of climate change and coastal ecosystems in South East Asia region (SEAR), government officials, and representatives from the Mekong Delta region were recently gathered on for a training course and workshop in Can Tho city. READ MORE
À l’occasion de la Journée mondiale des toilettes, le 19 novembre, l’ONU tient à rappeler que 2,4 milliards de personnes n’ont toujours pas accès à des toilettes sanitaires et sécuritaires. READ MORE
From its origin in 2013, the U.N.’s annual World Toilet Day, Nov. 19, has inspired many light-hearted headlines but it underlines a deadly serious problem too often neglected and shrouded in taboos – the global sanitation crisis. READ MORE
The political rhetoric between India and Pakistan underlines the risk of failing to manage correctly and cooperatively vital water resources shared between nations. READ MORE
The booming, multi-billion dollar seaweed farming industry could easily and needlessly drop into expensive pitfalls experienced previously in both agriculture and fish farming, the United Nations University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (a UNU affiliate institute), warned today. READ MORE
Depletion of mangrove forests worries conservationists
Uncontrolled human activities have led to rampant depletion of mangrove forests and adversely affected marine ecosystems, environmental experts have said. READ MORE
The familiar stability of the world’s water cycle won’t return in the lifetime of anyone alive today. We now understand more fully the extent to which the stability of our political structures and global economy are predicated on the predictability of the water cycle — that is, how much water of certain quality becomes available in what part of the year. READ MORE
To better inform the tradeoffs involved in land use choices around the world, experts have assessed the value of ecosystem services provided by land resources such as food, poverty reduction, clean water, climate and disease regulation and nutrients cycling. READ MORE.
The value of ecosystem services worldwide lost to land degradation is between US$6 trillion and $10 trillion annually, says a new report. To better inform the tradeoffs involved in land use choices around the world, experts have assessed the value of ecosystem services provided by land resources such as food, poverty reduction, clean water, climate and disease regulation and nutrients cycling. READ MORE.
The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative launched a synthesis report, titled ‘Value for Land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management,’ as well as an accompanying summary for policy and decision makers at a special event in Brussels, Belgium. READ MORE.
Land degradation, such as a spread of deserts in parts of Africa, costs the world economy trillions of dollars a year and may drive tens of millions of people from their homes, a U.N.-backed study said on Tuesday. READ MORE.
Land degradation is costing the world as much as $10.6tn every year, equivalent to 17% of global gross domestic product, a report has warned .More than half of the world’s arable land is moderately or severely degraded, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative. READ MORE.
In recent years, strides have been made in research on the water-energy nexus, but there is room for growth. SWS Associate Editor Amy McIntosh spoke with Zafar Adeel, Ph.D., director of United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, about the importance of the water-energy nexus and the efforts being made to learn more. READ MORE.
A watershed year for many reasons, 2015 marks a new era of development and the end of a Decade for Action focused on Water for Life. Reflecting back over the Decade at the invitation of the Tajikistan Government last month, it is clear that a lot of progress has been made around the imperative for WaSH access. READ MORE.
In an essay published in the Durango Telegraph, chef Ari LeVaux parses the choices and motivations and finds relatively few absolutes. Food from a different hemisphere, such as tomatoes and berries during the wintertime, is hard to justify simply because it’s out of season at home, he says. “In demanding to eat them year-round you abandon your relationship to where you are.” READ MORE.
Greeting from your Chair. I want to begin with a word of thanks to all you champions who have relentlessly worked hard to make YPARD – who we are today- ‘a giant and the only international network of young professionals in agricultural development’. On the top of that ‘We are growing and we are known!’ What makes me say that with so much confidence- first, the sheer numbers and second, the observations/impressions. READ MORE.
For centuries, irrigation has been a huge boon for agricultural productivity. While only 20% of the world’s cropland is currently irrigated, that land produces 40% of all food and fiber. But the long-term sustainability of irrigated systems, and their ability to provide sustained high productivity, remains a major question, in large part due to salt accumulation in the root zone. READ MORE.
A water security expert says climate change will have dire consequences on Manitoba’s infrastructure and consequently its economy, unless something changes. Bob Sandford, EPCOR Water Security Research Chair at United Nations University, began working to help solve water-related climate issues in Manitoba a decade ago. His first focus was on Lake Winnipeg — now his focus is the province’s infrastructure. READ MORE.
The Ministry of Environment and Water has hosted experts from the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), during a mission to monitor and evaluate recharge wells at dammed lakes. READ MORE.
Water security and climate security are inseparable; one is implicit in the other. Such is a main conclusion of a new report published by the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-IWEH). READ MORE.
The Importance Of WASH For Maternal And Newborn Health
Patricia Paddey of Save the Mothers interviews Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace on the importance of having access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH). READ MORE.
A Dutch farmer has found a variety of potato supporting salt, representing an alternative to the scourge affecting 10% of irrigated land: soil salinization, making them sterile and threatening food security. According to the Institute for Water, Environment and Health in the United Nations University, 1-2% of cultivated land worldwide disappear every year. 1 / 10th of the world’s irrigated land is affected by salt, impacting crops. READ MORE.
Canada’s renowned water expert, Robert Sandford, is heading up a UN Water Security Research Chair position based in Hamilton aimed at ensuring the world has safe water. Sandford, of Canmore, Alta, will lead a four-year effort in his new post, based at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, located at McMaster Innovation Park. READ MORE.
“Water security means having the water to reliably provide adequate amounts at the right quality for all who need it, including what nature needs,” said Sandford, whose position through the United Nations University, a global think-tank, is funded by EPCOR. “Now we’re seeing this is directly tied to energy security also.” READ MORE.
Climate change is binding together energy and water issues and Canada must learn to think about them that way, says newly appointed water security chair. “It changes the whole definition of water security,” Bob Sandford, who now leads the EPCOR Water Security Research Chair hosted at UNU-INWEH, located in Hamilton’s McMaster Innovation Park, said Tuesday. READ MORE.
Cleaning up widespread corruption in the water supply industry is crucial to avert looming water conflicts born of desperation, warns a new United Nations report based on case studies in 10 countries. “In many places … corruption is resulting in the hemorrhaging of precious financial resources,” siphoning an estimated 30 percent of funds earmarked for water and sanitation-related improvements, the report states. READ MORE.
As we reflect on the successes and failures of the Millennium Development Goals, we look toward the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals to redress imbalances perpetuated through unsustainable economic growth and to help achieve key universally-shared ambitions, including stable political systems, greater wealth and better health for all. READ MORE.
A crackdown on corruption in the water sector and increasing investment in infrastructure are essential to avoid conflicts over water, “life’s most vital resource”, a United Nations University report said on Tuesday. Population growth, economic insecurity, corruption and climate change threaten the stability and the very existence of some nations, the report said. READ MORE.
About 2.5 billion people in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, lack adequate sanitation facilities, and about half only have the option of defecating in the open. As a result, disease-causing pathogens contaminate water supplies used for drinking and cooking – over 700 million people currently lack access to improved water. Unfortunately, improved sources do not mean the water is necessarily safe to drink. READ MORE.
Large parts of Europe, West and Central Africa, and South America face the threat of outbreaks of the deadly dengue virus due to climate change and urbanization, according to the first-ever maps of dengue vulnerability published on Tuesday. Research by UNU-INWEH found dengue fever, that is transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes and causes severe pain, is on the move with the maps pinpointing vulnerable areas as a tool to help prevent outbreaks. READ MORE.
Half of the world’s seven billion people will be at risk of getting dengue if minimum temperatures in certain regions continue to rise, warned the first ever global mapping report on dengue vulnerability. According to Mapping Global Vulnerability to Dengue using the Water Associated Disease Index, while South-East Asia and South Asia already faced the highest levels of vulnerability to dengue. READ MORE.
Dengue fever may become more common in the near-future, due to the effects of climate change and human habitation, new research reveals. Europe, South America, and central and western regions of Africa could face massive outbreaks of the disease, according to a new United Nations University study. READ MORE.
Large parts of Europe, West and Central Africa, and South America face the threat of outbreaks of the deadly dengue virus due to climate change and urbanization, according to the first-ever maps of dengue vulnerability published on Tuesday. “Changes to climate could result in increased exposure and pose a serious threat to areas that do not currently experience endemic dengue,” the report said. READ MORE.
How many have euphemistically referred to “answering the call of nature” before going in search of a clean, well lit toilet, with soap and water to be able to clean up afterwards? The reality for 2.5 billion people is very different. And for 1 billion people, or one in every six, the reality is that nature is their only toilet – they practice what we refer to as open defecation. This reality is why 1.8 million people die unnecessarily of diarrhoea every year. READ MORE.
The United Nations called on Wednesday for an end to defecation in the open, with fears growing that it has helped spread the deadly Ebola virus ravaging West Africa. Half the population of Liberia, the country worst hit by the epidemic, have no access to toilets, while in Sierra Leone nearly a third of people live without latrines, a new UN report to coincide with World Toilet Day estimated. READ MORE.
India has the highest number of people practising open defecation in the world at 597 million, according to the UN which said political will at the “highest level” is needed to address the challenge. Noting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to end the practice in the country by 2019, the UN said it is an “ambition” channeling the view of Mahatma Gandhi, who had termed sanitation “more important than independence.” READ MORE.
There may be those who feel the apocalyptic plot of the new Hollywood film Interstellar seems a bit far-fetched, with humans forced to look for an alternative planet because this world can no longer feed them. But it has been given credence by a new United Nations report that has found that the destruction of the environment has left an area of farmland the size of France useless for growing crops. READ MORE.
Using cheap, short-sighted ways to water land without adequate drainage methods are the chief reason behind the land spoilage, according to the report by the UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water (UNU-INWEH). The total area being affected, the report notes, has shot up over the last two decades — from 111 million acres in 1991 to 160 million in 2013, representing some 20 percent of the world’s irrigated lands. READ MORE.
About 2,000 hectares of fertile land are lost each day due to damage caused by salt, according to a UN analysis. The total area now affected is equivalent to the size of France – 62 million hectares – which has increased from 45 million 20 years ago. READ MORE.
Imagine losing about 5,000 acres, or 15 average-sized farms in Iowa, every day. That’s how much productive farmland has succumbed to salt damage in the last 20 or so years, according to a paper published Tuesday by a group of international researchers. And, they say, all that degraded land is costing farmers $27.3 billion a year. READ MORE.
It is the unnoticed poisoner of the world’s farmland. Every day, 2000 hectares of agricultural soil become unusable because of the damage caused by salt. From the cotton fields of central Asia to the almond groves of California, sodium and magnesium salts are poisoning soil, cutting crop yields by between 15 and 70 per cent, according to a new assessment from the United Nations University. It affects more than a fifth of the world’s irrigated soils. READ MORE.
Salt is damaging crop-growing soil around the world and it could lead to a shortage of food by 2050. That’s according to a UN study that says 7.7 square miles (19.9 square km) of irrigated land has been lost every day for 20 years due to salt degradation. And they say this could mean lower crop yields and even health problems in future. READ MORE.
Wrong use of irrigation leading to salination of soils globally
At least 20% of the world’s total irrigated land has turned saline in the last 20 years, translating into yield losses of about 30 billion dollars per year. This is according to a study published by soil scientists of the United Nations University. What this means is that the world will not be able to sufficiently feed itself if the salinity is left unchecked. READ MORE.
Think of an area about the size of 3,000 football fields that can no longer be used to produce food each day. And then remember that the global population actually grows by around 200,000 people every day. Manzoor Qadir at the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and colleagues report that an area of farmland the size of France—62 million hectares—has been affected by the build-up of salts in irrigated soil. READ MORE.
While predictions were that the winter of 2014/15 would see a “super El Nino” wreaking havoc across the globe, the revised prediction of a smaller El Nino Modoki doesn’t mean the world can rest at ease. Zafar Adeel of United Nations University in Hamilton discusses what needs to be done to improve our preparedness for the coming storms. READ MORE.
Recent events in the Arab world and elsewhere have underscored the point that traditional notions of security being dependent solely on military and related apparatus are outmoded. Security is a multi-faceted domain that operates at the nexus of human development and sustainable management of water, energy and food resources. READ MORE.
Sixteen authors — including former prime minister Jean Chretien — argue the world can no longer afford to ignore the effects of climate change on rainfall patterns and their consequences for human security. “Many of our recent floods were similar in a number of ways,” writes Sandford. READ MORE.
Siberian wildfires so intense they melted the permafrost beneath them. Flooding in Alberta that paralyzed a major city. Toxic algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg that have grown 1,000 per cent since 1990. They’re all linked say the authors of a new United Nations-sponsored book entitled “Water, Energy and the Arab Awakening”. READ MORE.
“There’s a nexus between water security, food security and energy security,” said editor Zafar Adeel. “We’re beyond the point where you can deal with these three areas as separate silos.” Just look at what happened in 2013, said Robert Sandford, one of Canada’s leading water scientists and one of the contributing authors. In June, flooding submerged downtown Calgary. Two weeks later,Toronto was hit with more rain in two hours than it usually sees in a month. READ MORE.
And in northern Siberia, an outbreak of hundreds of wildfires was followed by rainfall so intense it flooded more than a million square kilometres. “Many of our recent floods were similar in a number of ways,” wrote Sandford. Storms seem to get stuck in place instead of moving along. Their internal dynamics look more like tropical storms than those from temperate regions. READ MORE.
A massive 180 km pipeline-canal mega-project to bring water from the Red Sea could prevent the Dead Sea from disappearing while improving the region’s environmental, energy and peace prospects, according to a book of insights into major global topics launched today by an association of 40 former government leaders and heads of state and UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health. READ MORE.
The InterAction Council, an association of 40 former world leaders, and the United Nations University will launch their new publication, “Water, Energy, and the Arab Awakening” Monday, 20 October 2014, 10 a.m. to noon BST. The former leaders of Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Jordan, New Zealand and Singapore are contributors to the wide-ranging collection of papers requested from leading experts. READ MORE.
By 2030 nearly half the global population will face water shortages. This week on What A Waste, host and molecular biologist Torah Kachur tackles our waste water problem…..and finds solutions small and big. UNU-INWEH Director Dr. Zafar Adeel discusses water waste and recycled wastewater. READ MORE.
Of Taps and Toilets and Safe Motherhood
Millions of women caught between the harsh realities of inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene provisions (WaSH) andHIV/AIDS stand at the margins of their communities where the burdens of WaSH, HIV/AIDS and gender converge. The adverse effects of this convergence on maternal health outcomes demand collective efforts to save the lives of the world’s marginalized mothers and their babies. READ MORE.
Today we celebrate World Water Day and yet the number of people without access to safe water, adequate sanitation and a modern form of energy is staggering. Collectively, these people without access to these basic services – comprising more than two-thirds of the world’s poor – constitute the “bottom billion” living in impoverished slums and remote rural areas. READ MORE.
Listen to Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace from UNU-INWEH, the UN Think Tank on Water, discuss how to bridge the gap between business and social enterprise to solve water & sanitation issues in developing countries. READ MORE.
Listen to Richard Thomas, Assistant Director of the United Nations University Think Tank on Water, explain the role the private sector can play in helping to add value to local producers and rural communities’ agriculture through processing, marketing, business education, capacity building and innovation, shared technologies and practices. READ MORE.
Listen to Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace speak with the WfWP about the water-health nexus, the mucky middle, and the importance of small investments both in people and in infrastructure and how they can make a difference. READ MORE.
That 130 litres of water goes into making your average coffee is a statistic that amazes most people. Even more surprising is that hardly anyone, even in the business community, has the foggiest idea how much water goes into manufacturing our favourite consumer products, from field to factory. READ MORE.
Better management of degraded lands could deliver up to US$1.4 trillion a year in increased crop production, says a report presented at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification conference in Windhoek, Namibia, last month. But it adds that much of the work on the economic valuation of such land in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America has been done by the international scientific community without adequate involvement or capacity building within the studied countries. READ MORE.
The Namibian capital Windhoek is currently hosting a conference on desertification. It is the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and is being held to review progress after the first half of a 10-year strategy. “The Economics of Land Degradation” is the title of one of the reports presented in Windhoek. DW spoke to Richard Thomas, one of the lead authors of the report. READ MORE.
Sheep and goat herders are remembering the ancient value of himá– an Arabic word that refers to giving land an occasional rest from grazing and tree-felling. Himá had been largely forgotten as government policies opened up land to unfettered grazing in an effort to boost agricultural output. It didn’t work: Overgrazing reduced the amount of livestock the land could sustain – and costly feed needed to be imported. READ MORE.
Government ministers and other heads of delegation from 195 parties to a UN special convention on fighting expanding deserts across the globe started on Monday a two-day meeting here. The high-level gathering begins as the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which opened in the Namibian capital on Sept. 16, went into its second week. READ MORE.
The cost of land degradation
More than a quarter of the usable land in the world has been degraded and the situation is worsening, affecting billions of people. Currently 168 countries are estimated to suffer from land degradation, costing the global economy an estimated US$40 billion a year (N$400 billion). This is according to a study that was just released by the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative launched at the UNCCD COP-11 in Windhoek. READ MORE.
Studies conducted in a report by the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) initiative reveal that the actions to prevent or reverse land degradation can be financially rewarding while also bringing benefits to the environment and contribute in the alleviation of poverty, especially in rural areas. READ MORE.
Amid growing competition for freshwater from industry and cities, coupled with a rising world shortage of potash, nitrogen and phosphorus, an international study predicts a rapid increase in the use of treated wastewater for farming and other purposes worldwide. However, research shows that treated wastewater – comparable in North America alone to the volume of water flowing over Niagara Falls – is mostly unused and, in many nations, not even quantified. READ MORE.
UN-backed study says annual treated wastewater in North America roughly equals volume of Niagara Falls; less than 4 percent is reused. Amid growing competition for freshwater from industry and cities, coupled with a rising world shortage of potash, nitrogen and phosphorus, an international study predicts a rapid increase in the use of treated wastewater for farming and other purposes worldwide. READ MORE.
The world is set to use far more treated wastewater to help irrigate crops and feed a rising population as fresh water supplies dry up, a team of U.N.-backed experts said on Thursday. A study led by Japan’s Tottori University and U.N. University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) forecast “a rapid increase in the use of treated wastewater for farming and other purposes worldwide”. READ MORE.
The wastewater that goes down drains and toilets will likely be repurposed far more frequently for crop irrigation and other uses as water supplies become more constricted across the globe, according to a new U.N.-backed study. In North America, for example, 3.8 percent of treated wastewater is reused. This percentage is predicted to grow in the coming years. READ MORE.
Drought and chronic water shortages played a significant role in sparking Syria’s civil war and in unrest throughout much of the Middle East, water experts now believe.Around the world, water demand already exceeds supply in regions with more than 40 percent of the world’s population. That may climb to 60 percent in the coming decade, a new study has found. READ MORE.
The world is set to use far more treated wastewater to help irrigate crops and feed a rising population as fresh water supplies dry up, a team of U.N.-backed experts said on Thursday. It did not forecast volumes, saying that many nations lack data on sewer and drain water. Of 181 nations studied, only 55 had information on wastewater generation, treatment and re-use. READ MORE.
A rapid increase in the use of wastewater for farming and other uses worldwide is predicted amid growing competition for freshwater from industry and cities coupled with a rising world shortage of potash, nitrogen and phosphorus. As water supplies fall and stress rises in many areas, the potential resource of wastewater is being widely recognised, according to a new study led by Japan’s Tottori University and Canada’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH). READ MORE.
The science-based management and governance of shared transboundary water systems is the focus of a wide-ranging collection of articles now published in a special edition of the Elsevier journal Environmental Development. The volume builds on a 2012 study of the use of science in roughly 200 GEF-supported transboundary water projects involving public investments of more than US$7 billion over 20 years. READ MORE.
Amid changing weather and water patterns worldwide and forecasts of more severe transformations to come, the UN Security Council is being increasingly urged by experts to include water security issues on its agenda. This has come in view of rising international support for adopting ‘universal water security’ as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. READ MORE.
A group of international and United Nations experts proposed a new definition of water security to observe World Water Day, in an attempt to prompt the UN Security Council to put the issue on its agenda. The call to discuss water issues comes as the perils of climate change grow and the health risks to billions of people living without clean water and sanitation are becoming clear. READ MORE.
How much water does it take to turn on a light? It took 10,000 litres to make your jeans. Another three big bathtubs of water was needed for your two-eggs-toast-coffee breakfast this morning. We are surrounded by an unseen world of water: furniture, houses, cars, roads, buildings – practically everything we use and make needs water. READ MORE.
Stresses on water supplies aggravated by climate change are likely to cause more conflicts and water should be considered as vital to national security as defense, the United Nations report said on Friday. About 145 nations share river basins with their neighbors and need to promote cooperation over a resource likely to be disrupted by more frequent floods and heatwaves, it said. READ MORE.
The absence of the definition of ‘water security’ undermines progress in international forums. Marking World Water Day today at the UN headquarters in New York, a common working definition was published, forged by UN and international experts from all over the world. READ MORE.
Equitable, broad-based public access to sustainable, sanitary supplies of water is increasingly being seen as a security issue. A growing world population, global warming, growing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions and ongoing, growing disparities in the distribution of wealth and income and business-as-usual political economy – all threaten national, regional and international efforts to assure all members of society fair access to sustainable water resources. READ MORE.
While the Asia-Pacific economies seem to have weathered the economic storms roiling Europe and America, they might be approaching a significant crisis of their own if they cannot find ways to ensure the availability of adequate, good quality water to sustain the socio-economic achievements in the region. READ MORE.
A test that quickly determines the cause of a bout of diarrhea. A sanitation system that converts human and fish waste into a source of fuel. Neither project is glamourous, but both have turned out to be golden for researchers at Hamilton’s McMaster University and could save lives in Africa. READ MORE.
Two groups of McMaster researchers have been awarded $100,000 each for their plans to speed up intestinal infection testing and develop energy-producing bio-gas technology in Africa. Both were selected as Grand Challenges Canada Stars in Global Health. READ MORE.
In case you ever wondered, there are currently 119 international days aimed to bring your attention to important issues around the world. Some may be familiar, but two more obscure days,Global Handwashing Day on October 15 and World Toilet Day on November 19, highlight topics worth considering: health, water and sanitation. READ MORE.
As the global water crisis looms ever closer, we can already see its impacts: too much water or too little, or rains coming at the wrong time. This impending crisis overlaps with two other major global concerns: food security and energy security. The latest UN World Water Development Report forecasts a 70% increase in demand for food by 2050. READ MORE.
Valuable mangrove forests that protect coastlines, sustain sealife and help slow climate change are being wrecked by the spread of shrimp and fish farms, a U.N.-backed study showed on Wednesday. About a fifth of mangroves worldwide have been lost since 1980, mostly because of clearance to make way for the farms which often get choked with waste, antibiotics and fertilisers, according to the study. READ MORE.
A study of almost 200 major international water-related projects over the past 20 years has identified a suite of existing and emerging challenges and how science can offer remedies. The GEF, the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment, partnered with the United Nations University and the UNEP to extract lessons from a portfolio of major transboundary water projects involving investments of more than US$7 billion. READ MORE.
Experts have sounded warning bells on `water bankruptcy` for many regions, after conducting a 20-year review of 200 major global projects. The report: `Science-Policy Bridges over Troubled Waters,” synthesises findings of over 90 scientists worldwide assigned to five GEF International Water Science working groups focusing on groundwater, lakes, rivers, land-based pollution sources, large marine ecosystems and the open ocean, according to a GEF statement. READ MORE.
Many world regions face “water bankruptcy” due to mismanagement of water resources, with implications for food and energy security, experts have warned. This mismanagement of water and aquatic systems has “led to situations where both social and ecological systems are in jeopardy and have even collapsed,” said the report, Science-Policy Bridges over Troubled Waters. READ MORE.
McMaster University has received a $1 million gift to help local researchers tackle the global water crisis. The money will allow the university to recruit a new professor with expertise in engineering and public policy and also support fellowships and travel scholarships for students studying water issues. READ MORE.
A global water crisis should be a top concern because of its implications for peace, political stability and economic development, a report issued in York says. That’s the warning in a report by the InterAction Council, a group of 40 prominent former government leaders and heads of state, working with the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and Canada’s Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. READ MORE.
A prestigious group of former world leaders and experts is sounding the alarm about a water crisis that threatens peace, political stability and economic development around the globe. The InterAction Council has issued a new report warning that the future impact of water scarcity could be devastating. READ MORE.
Dirty water and sewage have long been known to be health threats, but an upcoming United Nations report shows just how devastating their toll is on mothers and young children. In a study of 193 countries to be released Thursday, Canadian-based researchers say they’ve been able to quantify — for the first time — how safe water and public sanitation efforts affect health when factoring out other variables such as a nation’s wealth, fertility or location. READ MORE.
Dr. Zafar Adeel is Director of United Nations University (UNU) Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) and Chair of UN-Water, a group that coordinates water-related work across multilateral water organizations. In this interview for United Nations University Conversation Series on Global Justice, Dr. Adeel shares his expertise to discusses “water justice” and the crucial role water is playing in debates about global resources. READ MORE.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. READ MORE.
Canadian professor Peter Sale, author of ‘Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist’s View of the Crisis We Face’, has also weighed in on the situation: “I do not think we yet have a full grasp of the extent of the damage we are causing to ocean ecology, but the fact that we can talk about something as profound as the total disappearance of coral reefs from the planet by 2050 suggests the changes are damned serious”. READ MORE.
Rapid coastal development in the Persian Gulf region threatens fragile ecosystems and regional coordination is needed to protect them, a U.N. report says. Development must be better planned and managed to avoid aggravating already “severe” degradation and losses in the fragile marine ecosystems shared by eight Middle East countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – a reported released by the UNU-INWEH recommended. READ MORE.
Simply protecting land and sea won’t be enough to stem the loss of nature, according to a study just out in the Marine Ecology Progress series. Read it one way, and it’s one of the most depressing things you’ll have seen, if you’re concerned about the biosphere’s future. READ MORE.
Networks of biologically-connected marine protected areas need to be carefully planned, taking into account the open ocean migrations of marine fish larvae that take them from one home to another sometimes hundreds of kilometers away. Research published today in the international journal Oecologia sheds new light on the dispersal of marine fish in their larval stages. READ MORE.
The United Nations should promote “hydro-diplomacy” to defuse any tensions over water in regions like the Middle East and North Africa where scarce supplies have the potential to spark future conflicts, experts said Sunday. They said the U.N. Security Council should work out ways to bolster cooperation over water in shared lakes or rivers, from the Mekong to the Nile, that are likely to come under pressure from a rising world population and climate change. READ MORE.
Access to clean, potable water will become a growing source of international tension unless governments take steps to protect the world’s supply, experts are warning ahead of a water security conference in Toronto. Water has turned into an “urgent security issue” as urbanization, population growth and other forces place increasing strain on natural resources, the experts said. READ MORE.
Former prime minister Jean Chrétien says it is time for Canadians to debate whether they should share their water with the rest of the world, noting the country exports other natural resources such as oil and gas. Proposals to export large volumes of water have touched off explosive debates in the past, as was the case in British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland in the 1990s. Each time, intense public backlash nixed export bids. READ MORE.
Connecting Water Resources: Day One
UNU-INWEH’s Dr. Zafar Adeel addressed Canada’s role in the global water crises, highlighting some of the main issues–drinking water supply and sanitation, shrinking water resources, and degrading water quality–then focusing on the bright spots in the water landscape, including recent political uptake, the new focus from the private sector, and the realization of the water-energy-food nexus. READ MORE.
Canada will emerge as global leader in water -panel
Canada, with its abundance of water and expertise in managing the valuable resource, will be called on to help other nations struggling to deal with frequent drought, flooding and water quality concerns in just decades, according to a panel of experts. Demand for water in many countries will exceed supply by an estimated 40 per cent in 15 to 20 years and only one third of the world’s population will have half the water needed for life’s basics, researchers have predicted. READ MORE.
Pollutants ranging from pesticides to illicit drugs have been found in fresh water aquifers beneath a Caribbean resort in Mexico and could damage future tourism unless the region cleans up, a U.N.-backed study said on Sunday. It said that samples taken from a labyrinth of water-filled caves beneath the “Riviera Maya” south of the city of Cancun showed contamination mainly from sewage, as well as from highways or even golf courses. READ MORE.
Researchers with the U.N. University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health say pharmaceuticals, cocaine residues, shampoo, toothpaste, pesticides, chemical runoff from roads and many other pollutants have been found along in the coast in the area of Cancun and the “Riviera Maya,” Inter Press Service reported Thursday. READ MORE.
Assistant Director of the Institute for Water, Environment, and Health at United Nations University, Peter Sale, discussed evidence of the wholesale destruction of coral reefs, mass overfishing, and other environmental concerns. He stressed that the planet has “one complex environmental problem” rather than a variety of separate problems that must contend for our attention. READ MORE.
Coral reefs are on course to become the first ecosystem that human activity will eliminate entirely from the Earth, a leading United Nations scientist claims. He says this event will occur before the end of the present century, which means that there are children already born who will live to see a world without coral. READ MORE.
Untrammelled development, weak regulatory oversight and a lack of scientific monitoring are seriously threatening ecosystems along the coast of the Gulf, according to an extensive assessment of the region’s marine environment. Sea-front projects ranging from desalination plants to artificial islands in the gulf between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran have transformed the entire coastline in the past few decades. READ MORE.
I was intrigued to learn the other day that there are now more cellphones in India than toilets. Almost half the Indian population, 563.7 million people, is hooked up to modern communications, while just 366 million have access to modern sanitation, according to a United Nations study. READ MORE.
India’s mobile subscribers totalled 563.73 million at the last count, enough to serve nearly half of the country’s 1.2 billion population. But just 366 million people – around a third of the population – had access to proper sanitation in 2008, said the study published by the United Nations University, a UN think-tank. READ MORE.
Even as the world’s deadline for the achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) approaches in 2015, countries are not making water and sanitation a priority, which in turn impacts other developmental goals like health and education. Between 1997 and 2008, aid commitments for sanitation and water fell from 8% of total development aid to 5%, according to the latest UN-Water GLAAS report. READ MORE.
India has 545 million working cell phones thanks to its booming emerging economy, a number expected to reach 1 billion by 2015, the UN University said Wednesday. That number exceeds the number of people who have access to toilet or sanitation facilities – only about 366 million, or 31 percent of the 1-billion strong population. READ MORE.
Far more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet and improved sanitation, according to UN experts who published a 9-point prescription for achieving the world’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation by 2015 on April 14. They also urge the world community to set a new target beyond the MDG (which calls for a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015) to the achievement of 100 percent coverage by 2025. READ MORE.
If you build it, they will go. They will go in a safe place without plunging through the rotting wooden floors into the foul cesspits below. They will go in a private place that has doors to shield them from their classmates’ line of vision. They will go in a clean place with proper ventilation and fly screens and, on a good day, toilet paper. And because they have somewhere decent to go, they will also go to school. READ MORE.
As the province charts a new course that makes Ontario’s water treatment technology front and centre, a Hamilton agency will likely play a role in the process. In yesterday’s throne speech, the province announced plans to create jobs and strengthen the economy by exporting clean-water technology, among other things. READ MORE.
Leading experts are coming from around the world to Hamilton this week to work on new strategies for protecting the planet’s imperiled water supply. Representatives of 26 United Nations agencies that compose UN Water are taking part in a three-day conference starting tomorrow at McMaster Innovation Park, which is home to the Institute for Water, Environment and Health, part of United Nations University. READ MORE.
In Nairobi recently at World Water Day, Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton spoke with Zafar Adeel, the new director of UN-Water. UN-Water is the organization that coordinates the UN’s 26 member groups and their efforts to manage and improve fresh water and sanitation globally. READ MORE.
The Millennium Development Goals relating to drinking water and sanitation are still attainable, according to the new man at the helm of UN-Water. Dr. Zafar Adeel, who officially succeeded Pasquale Steduto as its chair at the beginning of February, believes the global recession need not thwart the UN’s efforts to meet the targets by 2015. READ MORE.
The director of a Hamilton-based UN water agency says the same kind of solutions being applied to the economic crisis may actually make it possible to solve the world’s water crisis. Zafar Adeel is heading to Istanbul, Turkey today for a conference of United Nations water-related agencies, where more than 20,000 of the world’s leading experts will consider a new report on the state of the world’s freshwater. READ MORE.
The world faces a bleak future over its dwindling water supplies, with pollution, climate change and rapidly growing populations raising the possibility of widespread shortages, a new report compiled by 24 agencies of the United Nations says. The warning from the UN is based on one of the most comprehensive assessments the global body has undertaken on the state of the world’s fresh water. READ MORE.
Solar energy, ecotourism and even fish farms can create new jobs in arid regions of developing nations as global warming strains scant water supplies, a U.N. report said on Tuesday. A four-year study of drylands in eight countries, ranging from China to Tunisia, showed that people could shift to less water-intensive farming and set up new businesses, sometimes helped by microcredits, to cope with climate change. READ MORE.
“Aridd aquaculture” using ponds filled with salty, undrinkable water for fish production is one of several options experts have proven to be an effective potential alternative livelihood for people living in desertified parts of the world’s expanding drylands. Researchers say alternatives to traditional crop farming and livestock rearing will need to be put in place in drylands in order to mitigate human causes of desertification. READ MORE.
Providing clean water and toilets in developing nations is the quickest way to eradicate poverty and improve health worldwide, a study by the U.N. University said on Sunday. Installing drinking water and sanitation would pay for itself by saving cash spent on treating diseases, would raise productivity lost to illness and create jobs, it said. READ MORE.
Toronto may well be poised for a toilet revolution. And Ari Grief, a Toronto filmmaker, activist and founder of the Canadian Toilet Organization, wants to lead the charge. Yesterday marked a significant step in bringing the battle for clean and accessible public toilets closer to home, with the official launch of the CTO. The launch took place at the UN University’s International Network on Water, Environment and Health site at McMaster University in Hamilton. READ MORE.
Installing toilets and ensuring safe water supplies where needed throughout the world would do more to end poverty and improve world health than any other possible measure, according to a new UN study. “Water problems, caused largely by an appalling absence of adequate toilets in many places, contribute tremendously to some of the world’s most punishing problems, foremost among them the inter-related afflictions of poor health and chronic poverty,” said Zafar Adeel. READ MORE.
Simply installing toilets where needed throughout the world and ensuring safe water supplies would do more to end crippling poverty and improve world health than any other possible measure, according to an analysis released by the United Nations University. The analysis says better water and sanitation reduces poverty in three ways. READ MORE.
Clean water and a toilet would mean so much. Both would do more than anything to improve health and relieve poverty in the world, says a report to be released today by the Hamilton-based International Network on Water, Environment and Health. The network, based at McMaster University, is part of United Nations University – the academic arm of the UN – which is hosting an international workshop on the subject today and tomorrow. READ MORE.
Ensuring safe water supplies and adequate sanitation throughout the developing world are the most effective measures for curbing poverty and improving health, a report claims. The UN University (UNU) analysis, ‘Safe Water as the Key to Global Health’, released this week (20 October), urges researchers to fill crucial knowledge gaps in these areas. READ MORE.
High food prices may add pressure for more fishing along coasts where the environment faces threats from pollution and climate change, a U.N. University report said on Wednesday. It said 40 percent of all people lived within 50 km (30 miles) of coasts and that governments needed to work out better policies to safeguard resources. READ MORE.
Humans are wreaking havoc on the world’s oceans and fish stocks, and are in danger of decimating a crucial food supply, warns a new report to be released today by the United Nations University. Even if we do a better job of protecting the marine environment, we’ll still need to curb consumption, said Peter Sale, the report’s co-author and assistant director of the university’s Hamilton-based International Network on Water, Environment, and Health. READ MORE.
Environmental disasters including floods, more severe and more numerous storms, desertification and famine will push as many as 200 million people from their homes around the world by 2050, the United Nations warns. Environmental migration, as it is called, is a looming crisis that has already influenced the movement of people from Africa to Europe, for example, and it is likely to get much worse, the UN says. READ MORE.
It’s more than an unpleasant subject. Not having a sanitary toilet – or any kind of toilet at all – is a matter of life and death for more than one third of the world’s population, and the United Nations is working to fix it. Among the first and most challenging steps is getting people to talk about how and where humans pass waste. READ MORE.
Spending $10 billion a year would enable the world to reach a 2015 goal of improved sanitation in developing countries with huge spin-offs such as less poverty and better health, U.N. experts said on Thursday. Marking the U.N.’s annual World Water Day on March 20, they said every dollar spent on improving sanitation – ranging from digging latrines or building sewers – would have $9 in benefits such as higher economic growth or lower hospital bills. READ MORE.
World food demand will surge this century with a leap in population, highlighting a need to protect soils under strain from climate change, experts said on Thursday. About 150 scientists and government experts will meet in Iceland from August 31-September 4 to try to work out how to safeguard soils from over-use and desertification when more food is needed and some farmers are shifting land to biofuels. READ MORE.
Climate change and an increasing population could trigger a global food crisis in the next half century as countries struggle for fertile land to grow crops and rear animals, scientists warned yesterday. To keep up with the growth in human population, more food will have to be produced worldwide over the next 50 years than has been during the past 10,000 years combined, the experts said. READ MORE.
Enough fertile land could turn into desert within the next generation to create an “environmental crisis of global proportions,” large-scale migrations and political instability in parts of Africa and Central Asia unless current trends are quickly stemmed, a new United Nations report concludes. “The costs of desertification are large,” said Zafar Adeel of the United Nations University, who is based in Canada and is an author of the report, to be released Thursday. READ MORE.
Desertification represents one of the “greatest environmental challenge of our times” and could set off mass migrations of people fleeing degraded homelands, a United Nations report warned Thursday. The report called on governments in arid regions to revise rules on land use to halt overgrazing and unsustainable irrigation practices. It also urged better coordinated policies to address the problem of desertification. READ MORE.
Desertification could drive tens of millions of people from their homes, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia, a U.N. study warned on Thursday. People displaced by desertification put new strains on natural resources and on other societies nearby and threaten international instability, the 46-page study by the U.N. University showed. READ MORE.
History is littered with lessons from once-budding civilizations that crashed from their peak of prosperity. From the Anasazi of the southwestern United States to the Mayans of Mesoamerica and the ancient dynasties of eastern China, environmental change has sounded the death knell throughout time for once-thriving civilizations already stressed by factors including high population growth, overexploitation of resources and excessive reliance on external trade. READ MORE.
Desertification, exacerbated by climate change, represents “the greatest environmental challenge of our times” and governments must overhaul policy approaches to the issue or face mass migrations of people driven from degraded homelands within a single generation, warns a new analysis. READ MORE.
Desertification represents one of the “greatest environmental challenge of our times” and could set off mass migrations of people fleeing degraded homelands, a United Nations report warned Thursday. The report called on governments in arid regions to revise rules on land use to halt unsustainable irrigation practices. It also urged better co-ordinated policies to address the problem of desertification. READ MORE.
Desertification could create more than 135 million refugees, as droughts become more frequent and climate change makes water increasingly scarce in dryland regions, warn UN experts. Warnings of forced migration will be key at the international conference on desertification and policy in Algeria next week (17-19 December) — an issue which particularly concerns North Africa, the United States and southern Europe. READ MORE.
The UN International Year of Deserts and Desertification ended on Sunday with stark warnings from experts about the expansion of uninhabitable zones and an increase in climate-driven migration. Desertification – the expansion of desert areas, caused by growing populations and climate changes – is one of the most important global issues, UN Under Secretary-General Hans Van Ginkel said at the start of a three-day conference in the Algerian capital. READ MORE.
Millions of people could lose their homes and livelihoods as the world’s deserts expand because of climate change and unsustainable human activities, an environmental report warned on Friday. The report, part of a series examining the state of the world’s biological resources, was released on the eve of “World Day to Combat Desertifcation,” which marks the 11th anniversary of a UN agreement to tackle spreading deserts. READ MORE.
Many of the world’s dry regions, currently home to some 2.1 billion people, are in danger of becoming useless for growing food, according to the latest in a series of reports on the world’s ecosystems. The report’s authors estimate that 10-20% of these ‘drylands’ have already lost some plant life or economic use, and they say the situation is getting worse. Hundreds of thousands of people will be in need of new homes and lifestyles over the next 30 years, they estimate. READ MORE.
Many Of 2 Billion Dryland Dwellers At Risk As Land Degrades
Growing desertification worldwide threatens to swell by millions the number of poor forced to seek new homes and livelihoods. And a rising number of large, intense dust storms plaguing many areas menace the health of people even continents away, international experts warn in a new report. READ MORE.
To the average person, “desertification” likely conjures up images of sandstorms sweeping across the Sahara. While this is one manifestation, desertification is a global process that persistently reduces the benefits people get from nature — collectively termed “ecosystem services.” This happens as plant cover is destroyed, water resources are over-exploited, soil quality is degraded due to erosion and use of chemicals, and land productivity is irreversibly diminished. READ MORE.