agriculture, drinking water, general, international, outreach, sanitation, sustainability, united nations, water availability

‘Wash Your Hands’ and ‘Clean Your Plate’ – World Water Week Wrap-Up

Less worldwide food waste and better global sanitation were urgent needs cited during this year’s World Water Week from August 17th until August 23rd organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in Sweden. Over 2,400 science, business, government, and non-profit leaders gathered to discuss the “Progress and Prospects on Water: For A Clean and Healthy World” (this year’s theme) with a special focus on the 2008 International Year of Sanitation as declared by the UN.

This annual conference left much to be desired as discussions indicated  little progress in meeting one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — a reduction by half of the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. There are 2.5 billion people across the world without sanitation, and according to a United Nations progress report released in July of 2007, 1.6 billion of these people will need access to improved sanitation by 2015 to be on target with the MDGs. That is almost one-quarter, about 24%, of the current world population. Or in general terms, a lot of people.

John Sauer, in his recent article Finding the Toilet in Stockholm attributes the lack of available sanitation and drinking water, in part, to two major issues:

  • A general fear of the private sector and the “privatization” of public services.
  • The avoidance of the subject of sanitation and diseases such as diarrhea.


Above PhotoThe Millennium Development Goals Report 2007

Also this week, SIWI released a report indicating half of all food is lost (wasted, not ingested, not used) after it is produced. The report, Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Wastage in the Food Chain, estimated that 50 percent of all food is wasted and that less food waste will help preserve land and water resources. It takes water to grow food, right. Yep, and as James Leape stated at the opening session of World Water Week, “Irrigation-fed agriculture provides 45 percent of the world’s food supplies, and without it, we could not feed our planet’s population of six billion people.”

So in a nutshell, that is a wrap-up of this year’s World Water Week in Stockholm. And you can be sure I did eat every bite of dinner on my plate tonight.


Above Photo: SIWI.

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