World leaders, water experts and development professionals will meet in Stockholm 23-28 August to seek solutions to the world’s several escalating water crises. With both World Water Week and Stockholm Water Prize celebrating their 25th jubilee, several special events and campaign finales will take place during the Week.
The role of water for development, this year’s World Water Week theme, cannot be overestimated. Water is the foundation for all aspects of human and societal progress. We need it to survive – literally, to quench our thirst, to prepare our food, and maintain our hygiene, but it is also central to economic and social development, sustainable growth, and a prerequisite for healthy ecosystems.
While we need to ensure access to safe water for those 1.8 billion people who do not have it today, we must also manage the global rise in demand for water from growing economies by increasing water productivity, and find incentives for using it more effectively. Water security is both a condition for, and a result of, sustainable development.
At World Water Week, the complex challenges related to water and development will be addressed by over 3,000 participants from some 120 countries, representing governments, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society and academia. Speakers at the Opening session on 23 August will include the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven; the Prime Minister of Jordan; Abdullah Ensour; the President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak; the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA), Adnan Z. Amin, and Peru’s Minister of State for Environment and President of the COP20, Mr Manuel Gerardo Pedro Pulgar-Vidal Otálora.
During the Week, the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize will be awarded to Rajendra Singh of India, for his innovative water restoration efforts, improving water security in rural India, and for showing extraordinary courage and determination in his quest to improve the living conditions for those most in need. The prize will be awarded to Rajendra Singh by H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, during a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall on Wednesday 26 August.
Other prizes that will be presented are the Stockholm Industry Water Award, which will be awarded, on Sunday 23 August, to CH2M, a Colorado-based global service and engineering company, for developing and advancing methods to clean water, and increasing public acceptance of recycled water, and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize which, on Tuesday 25 August is given to one national team out of the 29 competing nations by H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Water is a central part in a range of issues that will shape the world in the decades to come. They will be discussed in-depth during World Water Week:
Water and food. About 800 million people in the world are undernourished, and prevalence is going down. Overweight and obesity rates are heading the other direction and today, around 2 billion people are overweight or obese. Meanwhile, about a third of all food produced is either lost, or thrown out by the consumer. Since most food production demands huge amounts of water, this means rivers of water are literally lost as a result of food being lost or discarded, or overeating.
Water and climate change. Climate change is to a large extent water change. We feel the impact of climate change through water. Increased rainfall variability, less reliable monsoons, prolonged droughts and reduced water storage in snow and ice are just some effects. California is currently suffering the worst drought in living memory, straining parts of the state’s economy. Cities are rationing water and food prices are increasing.
Water is also critical for the mitigation of climate change, as many efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depend on reliable access to water resources. Expansion of renewable energy will to a large extent also depend on access to water - on all levels.
Water and conflict. Approximately 276 river basins cross the political boundaries of two or more countries, and serve as a primary source of freshwater for approximately 40 percent of the world's population. Decisions on water allocations can be a source of conflict, but also a catalyst for cooperation and peace building. Cooperation over transboundary waters is an opportunity for people, regions and states to strengthen and develop cooperation, and to open up new paths of working together.
Water and health. An estimated 1.8 billion people live without access to safe water and 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. Diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene kill more than 5,000 people each day.
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a Stockholm-based policy institute that provides and promotes water wise solutions for sustainable development. SIWI performs research, builds institutional capacity and provides advisory services. SIWI organizes the annual World Water Week and hosts the Stockholm Water Prize, the Junior Stockholm Water Prize and the Stockholm Industry Water Award.
The Stockholm International Water Institute is a policy institute that generates knowledge and informs decision-makers towards water wise policy and sustainable development. SIWI performs research, builds institutional capacity and provides advisory services in five thematic areas: water governance, transboundary water management, water and climate change, the water-energy-food nexus, and water economics. SIWI organises the World Water Week in Stockholm – the leading annual global meeting place on water and development issues – and hosts the Stockholm Water Prize, the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and the Stockholm Industry Water Award.