In 1948, only 6% of the world’s population lived in cities. Nowadays close to 70% of people live in urban areas, including almost half of the global population. Cities are growing at exponential rates due to the need for food production, employment opportunities, and access to goods and services. However, these trends have been accompanied by significant environmental changes, contributing to the phenomenon known as urbanisation. Urbanisation by choice or by forces beyond control, is going to affect consumption patterns, livelihoods and lifestyles. Some of it will be good for the next generation but others can be life threatening.
Urbanisation and its effects on water use
Urbanisation will have its fair share of winners but also on the flip side, it’s fair share of losers also. Some of the earth’s inhabitants will be displaced from their land whilst others will thrive. The burden that we continue to place on the earth will be immense. According to the UN’s World Population Prospects 2015 data, the average annual increase of water consumption itself between 1990 and 2015 was 1.2 million inhabitants per day. By 2025, this figure is expected to reach 2.0 million inhabitants daily. These figures show that even if we manage to limit future population increases, we simply cannot accommodate the current pace of urbanisation without causing additional pressure on our environment.
An estimated 60 percent of the world’s freshwater usage is attributed to agriculture, industry, and household use. Agriculture accounts for 40 percent of the total water consumption worldwide. While agriculture is not necessarily bad, depending on its purpose, many factors should be taken into consideration. When considering agricultural practices, you’ll need to consider the impacts of actions on the natural world but also human society as well.
Intelligent management of water resources
As the world continues to urbanise and grow, we must find ways to adapt to the changing conditions of our planet. Climate change will continue to take place regardless of what we do, but it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate some of the adverse consequences. One solution is to make changes to the way we produce food and provide drinking water. We must work together to create a more sustainable approach to managing water demands and promote a circular economic model where resources are reused and re-cycled to ensure they don’t run out..
Water scarcity is becoming a major problem across the globe. To help deal with the issue, we call for the adoption of three strategies: increasing efficiency, reducing wastage, and managing supply. Efficiency refers to the use of a resource in an appropriate manner. Reducing wastage means using less water than necessary. Managing supply involves limiting the amount of water used. Together, the three strategies can improve the quality of the resource and help us cope with a possible shortage of water while protecting the environment.
What’s in store for the future
Our climate is changing, but so are we; how we interact with nature and share resources with each other is critical to our survival. Just as we have done with our bodies, we need to develop a relationship with the rest of the natural world. To achieve sustainability, we must respect the rights of others, avoid harming ecosystems, and try to understand our complex link with nature.
We need to focus on developing sustainable solutions before it is too late.
On the 14th November delegates at COP27 will lay out the vision, prospects and policy for a better tomorrow. Many tangible options will be discussed including recycling, conservation and efficient management of water use.
There is a part that we can all play to ensure the survival of the world’s natural resources but we have to work together for the common cause and collectively take those all important first steps.