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G20 Countries Address Water Security from a Sustainability Perspective

G20 Countries Address Water Security from a Sustainability Perspective

Monday, 30 November, 2020 - 08:15
The 2020 G20 Riyadh summit affirms the provision of clean and safe water as an important factor in overcoming the pandemic and protecting people. (Mishaal Al-Qadeer)

G20 countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have strived to enhance the sustainability and durability of global water systems in light of the many warnings and worst-case scenarios that were drawn around the water file.

Many warn that political pressure surrounding the water file threatens inevitable collision, especially as climate change, war and conflict are increasing poverty and challenging food security.

“We acknowledge that affordable, reliable and safe water, sanitation and hygiene services are essential for human life and that access to clean water is critical to overcome the pandemic,” G20 leaders said in their final communique.

They also welcomed the G20 Dialogue on Water as a basis to share best practices and promote innovation, and new technologies, on a voluntary basis, that will foster sustainable, resilient and integrated water management.

G20 demands on improving water security, however, are challenged by some countries trying to monopolize access to shared water resources.

For example, each of Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda are vying for better control over their share of Nile waters.

Tensions among the African nations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile escalated, particularly after Ethiopia announced that it had started filling the GERD’s reservoir, an action contrary to Egypt’s mandate that the dam not be filled without a legally binding agreement over the equitable allocation of the Nile’s waters.

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing global challenges of the 21st century, as it constitutes a serious obstacle to achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Many factors are at play when it comes to securing global demands for water supplies. They include population growth, rapid urbanization, the erosion of water infrastructure and the lack of proper investment.

The Saudi Presidency of the G20 forum worked on reinforcing international cooperation in the field of water management and on pushing to ensure water security for all through establishing vital policies, ensuring adequate financing and promoting innovation.

“Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the world's population. At least 4 billion people lack basic sanitation services such as access to latrines and more than 80 percent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into water bodies without any pollution removal,” main representative to the United Nations for sustainable development goals Faisal Al-Fadhl told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Globally, nearly a thousand children die every day from diarrheal diseases that can be prevented by the process of distillation and filtration,” he noted.

“Approximately 70 percent of all water extracted from rivers, lakes and aquifers is used for irrigation purposes, while floods and other water-related calamities account for 70 percent of all deaths related to natural disasters,” he emphasized.

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