At the end of the water conference in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on countries to fight against drinking water shortages. All hope for humanity would depend on charting a new course: "It depends on realizing the landmark, inclusive and action-oriented commitments made by member states and others at this conference".
He was alluding to numerous individual, non-mandatory measures and projects that states, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, among others, had promised at the conference over the past two days. "It means reducing the pressure on our water system," Guterres said.
There is much to do
Alternative food systems would also need to be developed to reduce the unsustainable use of water in food production and agriculture. Strategies in the areas of water, ecosystems and climate would have to be intertwined in order to reduce greenhouse gases - from resilient infrastructure, water pipes and wastewater treatment plans to an early warning system for natural disasters.
The UN water conference has been running since Wednesday. It was the first major UN meeting since 1977 to deal solely with the issue of water. The United Nations had sounded the alarm in the face of a worldwide water crisis: the water cycle had been broken, ecosystems destroyed and groundwater contaminated. Two billion people, one in four, do not have adequate access to clean water. And the global shortage of drinking water will continue to increase. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) spoke for Germany on Wednesday before the UN General Assembly.
Hope for the turning point
The World Resources Institute, which analyzed the conference, concluded that the New York meeting was a needed wake-up call on water. A number of the voluntary commitments could mark a turning point and influence the development towards drinking water.