Asia-Pacific Remains Far From Being On Track To Meet The Targets Of SDG 6: Report 

By Outlook Planet Desk March 24, 2023

The United Nations World Water Development Report urges for collective action and partnerships to manage water resources optimally

Asia-Pacific Remains Far From Being On Track To Meet The Targets Of SDG 6: Report 
Competition for freshwater between cities and agriculture is anticipated to intensify due to rapid urbanisation. DepositPhotos

In 2050, it is anticipated that the number of urban dwellers who face water scarcity will rise from 933 million to 1.7–2.4 billion, says the United Nations World Water Development Report (UN WWDR) 2023 on Partnerships and Cooperation. Some of the major river basins in the Asia-Pacific region, notably the Krishna and Ziya River basins, are experiencing high to critical levels of water stress. These stress levels are said to be rising, made worse by the consequences of climate change. 

The new report discusses partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders in the management and development of water resources.The report does a comprehensive assessment of the overall state, use and management of the world’s freshwater resources and aims to provide decision-makers with tools to formulate and implement sustainable water policies. 

The report reveals that in the past 40 years, water use has risen by 1% annually.

In 2010, between 2.2 and 3.2 billion individuals experienced water stress for at least one month per year. “The magnitude of the WASH challenges in formal and informal human settlements is such that no one country or institution alone can overcome the growing demand for these services.” 

To overcome it, the report recommends engagement of stakeholders and encouragement of transparency and accountability. “Initiatives in the areas of water, sanitation, and hygiene are more likely to succeed if the intended recipients actively participate, particularly in rural areas and small towns.” 

Nearly one-third of the world’s cities that are dependent on surface water are facing competition with agriculture, which uses approximately 72% of the worldwide freshwater withdrawals.

Competition for freshwater between cities and agriculture is anticipated to intensify due to rapid urbanisation, for which urban water consumption is projected to increase by 80% by 2050.

“Collective action and negotiations through multi-stakeholder participation can lead to innovative solutions for water reallocation to agriculture, fisheries and urban water users,” says the report. 

Dwelling on climate change, the report reveals that between 2000–2019, floods are reported to have caused US$650 billion in economic losses. 

Water policy must better integrate climate risks while climate policy must better reflect the importance of water. In pledges made by Parties to the Paris Agreement, more than 80% of nations have reported freshwater resources as an adaptation priority area. However, water management options for mitigating climate change, like biogas recovery from wastewater treatment systems, merit more focus.

“Working together on water resource management, water and sanitation service delivery, as well as health, inclusion, food and energy, can broaden benefits from climate mitigation and adaptation efforts,” underlines the study. 

The report highlighted significant gaps in basic WASH. “ 800 million people are utilising healthcare facilities without toilets and 1.8 billion are accessing medical facilities without access to basic water services.” 

It continues by stating that according to data from around the world, progress must be made four times as quickly as usual in order to fulfill the commitment to provide everyone with properly managed WASH by the year 2030.

“Despite interdependencies between the WASH and health sectors, gaps in coordination and governance occur because they are led by different ministries, local authorities, international organizations, NGOs and private sector actors at all levels.” 

The report recommends water funds to finance schemes to support partnerships between cities, businesses, utilities, and land management upstream to improve water quality and/or quantity and generate long-term benefits. 

Seven major industries—food, textile, energy, industrial, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and mining—account for 70% of global freshwater use and pollution. With 19% of the world’s freshwater withdrawals by industry and energy together, the report calls for collective action in the sector. In any case, businesses within sectors that largely rely on water for their basic operations, such the manufacture of commodities or of inputs and raw materials, are becoming more aware of water stress and the hazards it poses to their commercial interests.