MANAGING WATER LIKE EVERY DROP COUNTS . . . WHICH IT DOES
It is 2050 and the global water sector is entirely sustainable thanks to a suite of ambitious policies and large-scale investments. Novel circular approaches to water use – and reuse – are especially influential because of their ability to capture embedded energy in today’s water management systems that was previously lost. This energy is all emissions-free and is helping make the water sector not just Net Zero but Net Positive.
A huge amount of effort and investment has gone into conserving fresh water sources over recent decades. As a result, half of all freshwater ecosystems and inland waters are now not only protected but healthy and productive. This is important for achieving Net Zero because of the latent mitigation and sequestration potential of water-based ‘sinks’, such as wetlands, peatlands, mangroves. The knock-on gains for biodiversity and water security make the policy very popular.
Food production is another area where great strides have been made over the years. Beforehand, inefficient agricultural practices saw vast amounts of wasted water as well as detrimental changes to land use and soil quality. Today, the deployment of smart irrigation techniques and regenerative approaches to farming are reversing these trends, making the agriculture sector less water intensive and more climate-friendly.
Water now finds itself at the heart of a decarbonised ecosystem that delivers multiple additional benefits for society and the environment. Critically, water and sanitation services are now affordable and available to all, even in areas experiencing water stress. The water industry also provides vast numbers of green jobs. Furthermore, today’s institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks incentivise businesses and financiers to keep improving how our water is managed.
Join the Race
The global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery.
- Guarantee that all National Adaption Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions include a specific water strategy (and accompanying budget) that encompasses all areas of the climate-water overlap, by 2025. Include in the water strategy a plan to manage and reduce risk for water-related disasters such as flood, drought, and sea-level rise.
- Ensure that physical infrastructure and market frameworks are in place to provide universal and equitable access to safe, adequate and climate-resilient drinking water and sanitation services, by 2030.
- Double the share of renewable energy used in water extraction, supply, treatment, and reuse of water, while maintaining or reducing current levels of water extraction, by 2025.
- Invest in new infrastructure technologies and green infrastructure to completely decarbonise all water and wastewater facilities and improve climate-risk management to deliver a truly resilient water sector, by 2030.
- Ensure that 100% of all municipal, industrial and agricultural wastewater is treated for reuse or safe discharge into the environment, by 2040.
- Adopt bold commitments on water stewardship and conservation, and consistently and diligently cascade these commitments through portfolios, loan books and other assets.
- Support calls for mandatory reporting of climate and water risks and proactively integrate consideration of these risks into future financial decision-making and product offerings.
- Quickly reallocate capital from water-related assets that are carbon-intensive and non-resilient to new generation water-related infrastructure that offer Net Zero products and services.
- Accelerate research and development into next-generation technologies that can enable the rapid scaling up of zero-carbon approaches to water use and reuse.
- Advance systems that help demand-side stakeholders to better understand and visualise the water-climate nexus; such as earth observation techniques, real-time sensors, and virtual and augmented reality technologies.
- Consider how sustainable water innovations and technologies for extracting, treating, delivering and recovering water can be adapted for the world’s most disadvantaged countries, regions and communities.
- Shift to water-saving fixtures, appliances, and habits that reduce water and energy consumption in the home and in workplaces.
- When shopping for food, beverages, retail, and other consumer products, prioritise producers that have a proven record of protecting freshwater resources and investing in regenerative and restorative practices; work with brands who fail to do so.
- Call on governments to advance policies that promote low-carbon, high-resilience approaches to water and sanitation provision, especially in water-scarce and otherwise vulnerable communities.