Water. H20. We shower with it, brush our teeth, wash and cook with it. We drink it. It covers over seventy-one percent of our planet. It’s not just a basic necessity; it’s the building block of all life on earth. Humans are 60 percent water themselves.
No matter who we are, what we do, or where we live— we’re all united by water. Water is so much more than a resource for consumption. With over seventy percent of freshwater being utilized in the agricultural sector globally, water is a major player in industry and commerce—fostering an international, interconnected ecosystem of human and economic wellness.
Sadly, WHERE we live determines access to this interconnected wellness. In fact, according to the 2018 New Climate Economy Report on Water, approximately 2.1 billion people live without access to safe, clean water and over 4.3 billion people live in areas where the demand for safe, fresh water vastly outnumbers the resources that can deliver it.
What does water scarcity look like? It looks like outbreaks of fatal waterborne diseases, which 4.5 billion people across the globe experience today. It looks like height limitation and bone frailty, which are not only more frequent in children born during droughts, but in fact, genetically passed down to their descendants too. In recent studies among young women in Niger, where the responsibility of gathering water resources for the family falls upon the shoulders of women, the drought’s impact was seen as women’s literacy rates fell. This, in turn, sparked a steep decline in their economic power and financial prosperity.
Last year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that we have twelve years to limit climate change to avert a global crisis. And with humanity’s population surging, we will need to produce sixty to seventy percent more food to sustain ourselves. History speaks for itself: where droughts occur, poverty, famine and conflict inevitably follow. A call to action has never been more pressing and more personal.
What Can We Do?
We can advocate for clean and sustainable water practices in all areas of our lives: personal, family, the workplace and our community. Remember that, just as water connects all life, the factors that advance climate change are also vastly interconnected. When we take a stand for clean energy and support local sustainability initiatives, we come together not only for our own benefit, but to uphold the basic human rights of all peoples across the world. It begins and ends, always, with water which unites us all.
Let us all value and engage with water in new ways that ensure our collective well-being, sustainability and resilience.