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New approaches needed to address global water crisis

By Amir Lati | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-27 09:24
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With the lessening of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact, the world is returning its focus to the most pressing existential threat — global warming and climate change and their devastating effects on the world.

Innovative technological solutions to the global water crisis can be a central part of dealing with the climate crisis, regarding both adaptation and mitigation.

One of the main areas critically affected by climate change is the global rainfall cycle, resulting in less rain and more droughts, as well as extreme rain events that bring more destruction than blessings.

The close connection between the water crisis and the climate crisis was noted in the summary statement of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP27, in November and was a central theme of the UN Water Conference that opened on World Water Day on March 22 at UN headquarters in New York.

While many places around the world still have full access to clean tap water, in many other places this accessibility is limited or almost nonexistent. It is estimated that some 2.5 billion people live in water-scarce areas, a phenomenon that is expected to worsen in coming decades.

Water scarcity is causing migration, wars and conflicts, and placing hundreds of millions of people around the world at risk of displacement in the coming years.

Overcoming this phenomenon and anticipating a cure for this ailment will entail formulating a comprehensive campaign requiring that all necessary steps be integrated, such as guidance and education on water conservation; increasing water use efficiency; accruing international, public and private funding; rehabilitating polluted water resources; encouraging investment, research and development; and learning how to practice good water management on local, national, regional and global scales.

We must explore new approaches to investing in water — and sanitation-related infrastructure and services, while ensuring every person's right to safe drinking water. Emphasis should be placed on the availability and sharing of information about the amount, quality and distribution of water, access to water, and the risks to and use of that water.

In this regard, Israel can make a significant contribution to the world as a country with one of the most advanced water systems in the world and with an abundance of R&D and innovative technologies in many fields.

One example is the treatment and recycling of sewage. Israel holds a world record in this field, with 95 percent of its wastewater being treated, of which almost 90 percent is used in agriculture.

Another field in which Israel leads the world is prevention of water loss in urban systems.

The paradox is that nations with higher loss of water in urban supply systems are often arid and water-scarce countries for whom the absence of available water represents a significant burden. In Israel, technologies and methods have been developed to prevent water loss in supply systems and detect leaks by using remote sensors.

If this was the status quo the world over, it would be possible to greatly reduce and prevent environmental pollution and the destruction of natural systems, all the while allowing treated and purified water to flow back into nature and agriculture. It would also be possible to simultaneously reduce large-scale emissions of greenhouse gases, build agricultural resilience against climate change, allow water in natural systems — which absorb greenhouse gases — to function better and prevent destruction of ecological systems as the result of pollution or water scarcity.

Seawater desalination, the use of brackish water in agriculture, drip irrigation, the development of agricultural varieties that consume less water and even the extraction of water from air are fields that are developed in Israel.

We in Israel are able and willing to share our accumulated knowhow and best practices with other nations around the world, so that every individual across the globe is able to enjoy the essential human right to safe and clean water.

Water, after all, is life.


The author is the consul general of Israel in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

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