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World Water Week opens with calls for action on water equality

Humanity can only tackle today’s major challenges if access to water is distributed more fairly. When World Water Week 2019, the leading event on global water issues, opened in Stockholm, Sweden on August 26, speakers called for a drastic shift in how water is shared and managed.

Welcome address by the organisers of World Water Week 2019, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) the 29th edition of the annual event (photo courtesy SIWI).

Welcome address by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the organisers of World Water Week 2019, the 29th edition of the annual event that takes place in Stockholm, Sweden (photo courtesy SIWI).

Being held August 25-30, 2019, in Stockholm, Sweden, this year’s theme for World Water Week is “Water for Society: Including all”. Organized annually by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), World Water Week 2019 is the 29th edition.

In his welcoming address, SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren stressed the importance of using water to solve global challenges.

Many in our societies are not aware of the vital role that water plays in realizing prosperity, eradicating poverty and tackling the climate crisis. Together, we can change that perception and unlock the potential of water-related solutions, Holmgren said.

Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation from the Government of Sweden also advocated for better water governance and warned that with current trends, 52 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of global grain production could be put at risk by 2051.

Poor and marginalized populations will be disproportionately affected, which will further worsen the rising inequalities, Minister Eriksson said.

River champion Dr Jackie King, Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2019, found it encouraging that the rights of nature are increasingly recognized and noted that “We have the methods and the technology, but need the momentum to make them work.”

Access to open data is one of the “most important technological changes” according to Ma Jun, Founder of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, China, whose pollution database plays an important role to protect water quality. He now pushes for more transparency.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, spoke about how ecosystems are more protected where the rights of indigenous peoples are respected. She asked the water community to condemn the growing violence against indigenous activists.

If those who try to protect the environment are killed, there is less of a chance for us all to protect the last biodiversity resources, said Tauli-Corpuz.

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