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Climate Action 2009-2010

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES Figure 2. Trends in global water use. WATER 178 Source: UNEP GRID-Arendal climate change and water quality, and can make a valuable contribution to measuring the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water, sanitation and biodiversity. GEMS/Water’s global data set can be used to assess the quality of water for uses including irrigation, recreation, industry, and ecosystem health. This provides the scientific basis for decisionmaking at all levels, which is critical particularly in the face of increasing water stress. It is estimated that by 2020 around two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed countries. Global water use for human purposes can be split into three major categories: around 70 per cent is used for agriculture, 20 per cent for industry and the remaining ten per cent for domestic activities. As shown in Figure 2, demand for water will increase in all three of these areas as populations grow and as countries become more industrialised. Logically, water must be managed sustainably to meet these needs. At the same time, responsible management also contributes to achieving social and economic development, as well as the MDGs. The private sector is important for implementing solutions and contributing to community development. Industry needs reliable water supplies to manufacture products and deliver services to its customers. It also needs safe sanitation systems for the health of its employees and to treat and recycle used water. However, much industrial activity in developing countries is undertaken using unnecessarily high levels of water consumption and water pollution. Cost reductions offer the strongest incentive for action and open new market opportunities. “ It is estimated that by 2020 around two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed countries “ Industrial and agricultural demand for water must be considered against the backdrop of inadequate water supply and sanitation in many areas of the world. Each year there are hundreds of millions of cases of waterrelated diseases and more than five million deaths caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate or nonexistent sanitation. New or “smart” technologies VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES offer opportunities to mitigate such problems and are proving to be very economical. “Smart” water management includes sensor networks that can track water flow and quality, water meters that can give utilities and customers up-to-date information on water use and price, and complex “predictive” modeling to let water managers plan for the future. WATER AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT There is a close connection between water and energy supplies and use. Globally, about one-fifth of all the electrical power goes toward pumping and treating water, for example, and electricity generation plants use huge amounts of water for cooling. Considering water management with energy management can enable significant increase in productivity in the use of both resources. Water conservation can lead to large energy savings, as can taking full account of energy efficiency in water management. “ Each year there are hundreds of millions of cases of water-related diseases and more than five million deaths caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate or nonexistent sanitation. New or ‘smart’ technologies offer opportunities to mitigate such problems and are proving to be very economical “ Like the carbon footprint and the ecological footprint, there is also a water footprint, designed to give a snap shot of various water uses. Created by the Water Footprint Network, it is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. It gives the total volume of water used to produce goods and services consumed by an individual or community, or produced by a business. The corporate water footprint refers to the total volume of water used directly and indirectly to run and support the business. It consists of two components: the operational water footprint, the direct water use by the business in its own operations; and the supplychain water footprint, the water use in the business’s supply chain. Many companies collect water quantity and quality data for their own needs. Although these footprint indicators are not universally accepted by the science community, because of their lack of robustness, they still offer a quick and easy measure of water consumption and use. Over and above profit-maximising goals and efficiencies sought by most businesses, there is a need for corporations to be socially responsible. To return to the issue of monitoring, many companies collect water quantity and quality data for their own needs. Sharing these data with global initiatives such as GEMS/Water (water quality) and the Global Runoff Data Centre (water quantity) would increase their utility and contribute to meeting the needs of monitoring climate change. Author Sabrina Barker was the senior policy advisor to GEMS/Water for six years. Prior to that she was a senior advisor in the Canadian government, and worked for many international development NGOs. Her academic background focuses on international political economy, and she publishes on a range of environmental water quality issues. Organisation Since 1978, the UN GEMS/Water Programme has been the primary source for global water quality data. Key activities include data collection, research, assessment and capacity building. The twin goals of the programme are to improve water quality monitoring and assessment capacity in participating countries, and to determine the state and trends of regional and global water quality. Enquiries UN GEMS/Water Programme Office c/o National Water Research Institute 867 Lakeshore Road Burlington, Ontario L7R 4A6 CANADA Tel: +1 (306) 975-6047 Email: info@gemswater.org Websites: www.gemswater.org www.gemstat.org WATER 179 VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG