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Climate change is one of the biggest challenges nowadays. Water is at the heart of sustainable development. It´s closely connected to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which means, simply put: No water, no future. But there is hope.

Read this interview with Hassan Aboelnga, a researcher and Vice Chair of the Middle East Water Forum to learn what he thinks about this topic and the solutions he suggests.

We are the first generations to call for climate action. So, there is a hope if we can empower these young professionals.

Interview Transcription

 

1. The situation

It’s very clear that the way we manage water today in many parts of the world is not sustainable. And consequently, we are facing the challenge or the crisis of: too much, too polluted, too little. Too much is that we have devastating consequences of climate extreme, such as floods that have been affecting the cities and our infrastructure; too polluted because 80% of our waste of water is being discharged without treatment or reusing it. It’s too little because today 2.1 billion people don’t have access to safely manage the water and 4.5 billion people don’t have access to safely manage sanitation.

2. Water for granted

We are still so far taking water for granted, both in developed and undeveloped worlds, and this is a huge problem when we face a new crisis like climate change, and people don’t understand the magnitude of the risk we have been facing and they are still consuming in the same way or they are still doing business as usual.

3. What to expect

You see that many people around the world located in water-scarce regions are storing more water than they need, in order to protect themselves and also, they have – what we call – this feeling of “unreliability of water resources”, which is when you are not sure if the water will come tomorrow. So, they will find many sources whether it’s legal or illegal in order to protect their families and their communities.

And the projections of the UN are that 60% of the population will be under water-stress and this means that we need to be transparent and to be accountable.

4. Solutions

The new company that solves the water challenges that we have been facing today, I can summarize that it could have a hand, a head, and a heart. A head, which means it would have the technology and the smart water management that can bring innovation and technology to shift this vicious cycle of water management into a virtuous water cycle and circular economy model; to shift from infrastructure delivery to more resilient services. And they need a hand, which comes to investing in human capital, investing in having a diversity of teams from disciplines to look at this holistic perspective. And also, a heart, which comes to communicating with people and also to provide these affordable services.

5. Four dimensions

The first step is to understand how water is managed and to understand that is not a “one size fits all” solution. Making a metaphor of it, it’s like a Rubik cube and this Rubik cube has four dimensions. What we are doing today… we have like four dimensions of water security: drinking water and human wellbeing, climate change and water-related hazards, ecosystems, and socio-economic aspects. And all of these four dimensions, in order to provide the solutions, have to work altogether. Doing hand in hand with all of these four dimensions in order to provide Sustainable Water Management. But so far, we have been only working with one side, trying to achieve water security and it doesn’t work because you have to work with all sides (like solving a Rubik cube), that is the only solution to achieve water security for all.

6. Is it too late?

To end the barbarity, ensuring water and food, and sustainable cities, and resilience, and cooperation with these hazards… All of this is sustainable development. We have 10 years to achieve this Sustainable Development, according to the UN agenda 2030. As the United Nations have been alarming, we are off track to almost all water-related Sustainable Development Goals, like food, energy and if we don’t shift this “business as usual” we won’t achieve Sustainable Development.

There is no time to waste we have to act from now, because we are already being late when it comes to decisions, when it comes to collective actions, to change our mindsets from this vicious cycle of water management.

7. No future without water

We are the first generations to call for climate action. So, there is hope: if we can empower these young professionals and young generations lots of issues will be solved. Water is the heart of sustainable development and its interconnected with all the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. This means, simply put: No water, no future.