Most of the activities we carry out throughout the day are related to water, even those that we believe have nothing to do with it. We know that water is important, but we are unaware to what extent. This shouldn’t surprise us: we live in an inter-related world.
Although it might seem far-fetched, everything important that happens related to water takes place outside the water sector. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? That’s the way things are and the explanation is simple: everything that impacts on water resources, the urban water cycle, and the supply of drinking water and its treatment are processes that are dealt with by other economic sectors.
The water sector takes in all those activities related to the development of the water system and access to it by local inhabitants. For example, it includes activities related to building a water pipeline in a certain area or dams to obtain power.
For instance, tourism does not belong to the water sector, but it does nevertheless put a huge strain on water resources. Therefore, we cannot understand the water sector unless we link it to other economic activities, rather than the other way around. This will make it easier to understand the importance of water and the development of the water sector for the population overall, as well as the need to engage in dialog with all other economic sectors.
This is what Gonzalo Delacámara, Coordinator of the Department of Economic Analysis at the Fundación IMDEA Agua, explained at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Catalan Water Partnership (CWP), a cluster made up of businesses and centers of expertise that have been operating in the sector for the sustainable use of water since 2008. The CWP promotes multi-level projects and partnerships whose aim is to come up with innovative solutions in response to global needs for quality water anywhere in the world and for use in a wide range of sectors.
Indeed, Delacámara focused part of his talk on the difference between the water supply and its access in different areas of the world.
We are improving the lives of the chunk of the world’s population (several thousands of millions of people) who still haven’t gotten around the problem of having a supply of drinking water and the removal of wastewater by not only addressing this issue but also providing them with a vital resource they need to survive. (Gonzalo Delacámara)
As Delacámara highlighted in his presentation, nowadays there are more people with a mobile phone than a toilet, which makes clear the inequality gap that still exists between countries and that we have failed to address.
If we managed to overcome these situations of hardship, we would not only be able to ensure that the entire population would experience improvements to health and convenience, but we could also fix other situations that put millions of peoples’ lives at risk, such as the long walk women in some countries must make to obtain drinking water. Pipelines for drinking water would sidestep these women having to leave school and running the risk of being attacked on their way to fetch water.
Delacámara also talked about the other challenges we must face, such as adapting to climate change, which he believes is inevitable and whose outcome will depend on the way we adapt to it. So far, he believes that most countries have put this task on hold, but he feels optimistic when he observes the development of countries such as Israel and Singapore, where water has turned from being a restrictive factor into an opportunity for development.