Water and global changes

Cultural and climatic changes are leading in some regions to a decrease in available water resources.

Access to water and climate change

Even if climate change is not the main cause of the water crisis, it could generate very negative impacts on water resources and their management by exerting increasing pressure on surface and groundwater. Climate change is expected to affect water quantity and quality. Periods of drought, floods, hurricanes and monsoons are becoming increasingly severe and particularly affect people in developing countries. In coastal areas, the impacts of climate change will be aggravated by rising sea levels and declining groundwater levels, which could cause saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers.

UN Habitat points out that more than 3,300 cities with more than 380 million inhabitants live in coastal areas less than 10 metres above sea level. Estimates of climate migrants range from 200 million to 700 million people in 2050 according to the Migration Organization.

Access to water and urban growth

The world is facing unprecedented urbanization and population growth rates, mainly in developing countries. In 2008, humanity reached a milestone, with more than half of the world's population living in urban areas. By 2030, the urban population in Africa and Asia is expected to double compared to 2000, and cities in developing countries will account for nearly 80% of the world's population. Cities in developing countries are expanding at growth rates comparable to those of European cities in the 19th century and face the same challenges, including lack of access to basic services such as water and sanitation.

This population explosion is putting pressure on access to water and sanitation and increasing resource degradation. In recent decades, the demand for water has grown twice as fast as the population, leading to widespread water shortages and water crises.

There are also wide disparities in access to water and sanitation between urban and rural areas and between poor and rich urban households. In general, access to water and sanitation is relatively better in urban areas than in rural areas, although access to water and sanitation is growing less rapidly in cities as a result of urban growth.

Recommendations from (re)sources

* Establish indicators to monitor the impact of climate change on water resources in terms of both quality and quantity.

* Integrate adaptation measures into policies for the preservation and use of water resources at the national and regional levels.

* Address the major issue of "informal settlements" in urban areas, as the social and environmental consequences of a political abandonment of these areas would be dramatic.

* Increase funding for the extension of water and sanitation infrastructure.

* Manage the pollution of water resources to allow reuse of immediately available resources.

* Raise awareness of all stakeholders on the importance of sanitation (water and sanitation education, women empowerment actions...)