UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has highlighted the vital role of water in sustainable development during a speech at the Budapest Water Summit.
In his opening remarks, Ban said, “Water holds the key to sustainable development. We need it for health, food security and economic progress. Yet, each year brings new pressures.”
By 2030, he added, nearly half of the global population could be facing water scarcity and demand could outstrip supply by 40%.
During his speech, Ban noted that last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had reported that climate change was having an impact on the global water cycle. The report found that this change would lead to floods and droughts becoming more commonplace.
As a result, we must do everything we can to keep the global temperature rise below 2C above pre-industrial levels, he asserted.
He continued, “We must address unsustainable use […] Water is wasted and poorly used by all sectors in all countries. That means all sectors in all countries must cooperate for sustainable solutions.
“We must use what we have more equitably and wisely. We cannot expect governments to do this alone. Guaranteeing a water secure world will require the full engagement of all actors, not least the world of business.”
During the speech, the agriculture sector was singled out as the largest user by far of freshwater. Improved irrigation technologies, sharing of best practices and planting more climate-resilient and less water-intensive crops was highlighted as potential solutions.
Ban also emphasised the need for investment in the area. He said, “It is plain that investment in sanitation is a down-payment on a sustainable future. Economists estimate that every dollar spent can bring a five-fold return.”