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22nd March 2024 (10 Topics)

Navigating the Global Waterscape: Challenges and Solutions

Context:

Understanding the Global Water Crisis:

  • Persistent Scarcity: Approximately two billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, posing risks to both individual needs and collective prosperity.
  • Historical Context: Throughout history, water has been central to the rise and fall of civilizations, often leading to conflicts such as the ancient tensions between Mesopotamian cities over fertile land and water resources.
  • UN's World Water Day: The 31st World Water Day, themed "Leveraging Water for Peace" in 2024, highlights the importance of water diplomacy in addressing global water challenges.

Water Diplomacy in a Time of Extremities:

  • Climate Change Impacts: Climate-related extremes like heatwaves and floods exacerbate water insecurity, particularly in regions like India where the monsoon's unpredictability affects agriculture, a key sector of the economy.
  • Need for Cooperation: Improved cooperation on water-sharing and adherence to International Water Law principles are essential for sustainable water management and fostering regional stability.
  • Inclusive Approaches: Involving indigenous communities, civil society, and academic networks in water diplomacy processes ensures equitable and effective governance of shared water resources.

Addressing Rural India's Water Needs:

  • Rural Water Dependence: Seventy percent of India's rural population relies on water for livelihoods, primarily in agriculture, which accounts for 70% of global freshwater use.
  • Potential of Water Investments: Increased water accessibility in rural areas can yield positive outcomes in health, education, and employment, besides addressing basic human needs.
  • Role of Technology: Leveraging emerging AI technology in agriculture can promote efficient water use, crop management, and sustainability, contributing to rural development.

Transboundary Water Governance:

  • Extent of Transboundary Waters: A significant portion of the world's freshwater resources lies in transboundary waters, including rivers shared among nations like India and its neighbours.
  • Challenges and Progress: The worsening water pollution in South Asian rivers underscores the need for sophisticated cross-border water governance. Despite progress, only 24 out of 153 water-sharing nations have reached full cooperation agreements.
  • Importance for Peace: Effective transboundary water cooperation is crucial for achieving the SDGs and fostering peace, offering benefits across various sectors and ecosystem services.
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