Water in a Changing World, the third edition of an ongoing U.N. World Water Development Report, was published last March as part of the 5th World Water Forum through the United Nations. This report may be even more important a year after its publication- after watching Copenhagen fall short and seeing the IPCC 2007 report take a PR beating, this may be the strongest and most influential environmental report the U.N. has put out there to date. This edition follows a holistic structure, as opposed to previous reports that were created around U.N. agency lines. It focuses on themes like climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, groundwater, biodiversity, water and migration, water and infrastructure and biofuels.
You can browse and download PDF’s of the chapters from the World Water Development Report from the World Water Assessment Programme website.
I think the most valuable sections in the report are the extensive case studies of rapidly changing areas from 4 continents (Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia) and the facts and figures chapter, which holds a wealth of information on Meeting basic needs, Protecting ecosystems, Water and cities, Securing the food supply, Water and industry, Water and energy, Managing risks, Sharing water, Ensuring the knowledge base and Valuing water.
I’m a helpless statistics geek, so for me these kind of numbers are fascinating, especially in regard to their implications for water needs:
– Today, half the world’s populations lives in urban centres, compared to less than 15% in 1900.
– Estimated total funding requirements for the water sector to meet Millenium Development Goals by 2025: $111- 180 billion U.S. dollars per year.
– Proportion of households in major cities connected to piped water (house or yard connection):
– World: 94%
– Africa: 43%
– Asia: 77%
– Europe: 92%
– Latin America and the Caribbean: 77%
– North America: 100%
– Oceania: 73%
And these are all readily accessible and easy to read. If you’re like me, it’s great afternoon reading.