The following key challenges are defined:
Read more about the different challenges below:
Freshwater supply and river drought
Due to increasing demand for water in water-intensive industries, fueled by globally increasing populations and wealth, the world is facing a freshwater scarcity challenge. In addition to increasing demand, water supply is diminishing through factors such as overexploitation, poor land management, pollution and climate change.
A clear manifestation of the problem is the fact that ⅓ of large rivers no longer reach the ocean, causing additional challenges for ecological and food systems, biodiversity and resilience against climate change.
Shortage of clean water and sanitation
Dry areas, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, are seriously water-deprived. The lack of clean water and sanitation expands to many medical facilities in water deprived areas, resulting in high child mortality through disease.
According to the United Nations World Water Development Report, the main obstacles for providing clean water for all are among others; exclusion, discrimination, entrenched power asymmetries, poverty and material inequalities.
More frequent drought and infertile arable land
Climate change continuously increases desertification in dry areas, decreasing fertility of the land and increasing drought. This adds to the water scarcity already experienced and is forecast to lead to mass migrations in the future if not adequately addressed.
Acid rain and ocean acidification
Excessive use of fossil fuels, accounts for increasing levels of GHGs and particulate matters in our water cycles. The ocean absorbs around 30% of all CO2 emissions through organisms like krill, plankton and seaweed. Too much CO2 causes the ph value of the water to decrease, causing phenomena such as Acid Rain and Ocean Acidification. Certain animals and plants do not tolerate these levels of acidity and will cease to exist in these parts, eventually impacting the whole ecosystem of which they are a part.
Plastic Soup (microplastics)
Excessive amounts of single use plastics are being dumped in rivers and oceans. These plastics are being grounded by the oceans into tiny plastic particles that enter our food chains. Additionally, microplastics are released into the environment via human activity, as they are a part of common products. Animals are killed by mistaking plastics as edible and humans are impacted by microplastics as they enter our body. Specific harmful effects to humans are still under research. But some researches have already proven detrimental effects.