Top Challenges of 21st Century – Sustainable Use and Management of Water

Worldwide water governance has been challenged on several levels from local up to international though the existing forces are beyond human control, e.g. growing human population, increasing diversity in economic activities, enhanced competition on water resources, threats of climate disruption on water balance and availability. Sustainable management of natural resources is facing challenges in particular policy-making, the  implementation of laws, interpretation of international treaties and conventions. Examples are the trans-boundary water issues and disputes between upstream-downstream countries due to divergence in utilization of water resources for power generation, industry, agriculture and household uses. Water scarcity and security are typical issues in the MENA region and have caused disputes in the Nile Basin and Israel-Palestine area. This is, also, the case in other parts of the world, e.g. between India and Pakistan.

Other challenges are: affordable access to safe drinking water as a human right, e.g. sanitation and health issues in Sub-Saharan Africa; the needs for ways to measure access to improved water and unimproved water; the push to privatize water resources to drive efficiency and water trade; drought management and impacts of climate change. In global perspective water as a human right is not totally agreed upon, e.g. by the US and others international donors and what concerns affordability there are still more efforts to be done.

A panel discussion on contemporary challenges is given here on the sustainable use of the world’s freshwater resources, and the effectiveness of international law, e.g. international human right law, international environmental law and others, to meet existing challenges.

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