UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation Brings Attention to Climate Impact on Vital Human Resource

by Jennifer Miller, PhD

Of the many ways that climate change threatens human health, its impact on water is among the most fundamental. On World Water Day today, the United Nations (UN) hosted events focusing the on vital importance water, and has designated 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. The UN notes that, “rapid urbanization, pollution and climate change threaten the resource while demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion people, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses.”

Maude Barlow, national chair of citizen’s advocacy group the Council of Canadians calls water “the most pressing women’s issue” and raises many of the same concerns, globally and for Canada. The U.S. has also already begun to see the impact of climate change on water availability. In the American West, climate scientists broadly agree that the impacts of climate change on every aspect of water will be profound and are already occurring, as discussed in a 2011 web forum hosted on PHI’s Dialogue4Health. Since then the U.S. has seen drought hit Midwest farms hard in 2012, and scientists have recently predicted worse drought in the same region for 2013. And a recent UN report identified water as anational security issue around the world, as conflicts arise when water is scarce, and as populations flee drought-stricken areas.

All of these highlight the vital importance of the United Nations’ call for water cooperation. Learn more about the High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the UN General Assembly on Water Cooperation, held today in New York and the concurrent event in The Hague, and more about messages, events and the goals of the International Year of Water Cooperation.


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