International UN-Water Conference. Water in the Green Economy in Practice: Towards Rio+20. 3-5 October 2011

2nd UNCSD Preparatory Committee: 'How the green economy depends on water'

In the official side event "How the Green Economy depends on water" (7th March 2011) at the 2nd UNCSD Preparatory Committee Meeting, it was emphasized "the need for Rio+20 to rally around actionable sustainable development targets along with the importance of demonstrating the centrality of water to the green economy".

The issues highlighted during the Side Event at the 2nd UNCSD Preparatory Committee (Prepcom 2 ) include:

  • Water and sanitation interact with poverty, food security, health and many other sustainable development issues. Experts widely agreed that investing in water services paid off but the international community still lacked a sense of urgency.
  • Availability and access are becoming more political in different countries with the per-capita cubic meter availability decreasing at a concerning rate.
  • Recent flooding has had a devastating impact on national GDP. No country can meet its development objectives without improving the way it manages its water.
  • A business-as-usual model of water consumption will result in a 40% gap between the amount of water consumed and the amount available in the next few decades. Water allocation to various economic sectors is a difficult exercise. Re-allocation processes taking place in many regions of the world are politically and socially difficult. Developing countries may be able to avoid over-allocation by learning from policies that failed in the past in industrialized countries.
  • The link between water and food security needs to be better understood, especially considering one-third of the population live in water stressed areas. We need to encourage the water community to make better use pricing and fiscal instruments to upscale successful practices.
  • There is a need to consider how a green economy would value ecosystem services. Water is currently only priced at the point of consumption but a full valuing of water in our natural infrastructure is needed. Fifty percent of the world's wetlands have been lost. Clearly our economy undervalues these precious ecosystems, highlighting the need to move to a green growth model.
  • Water must be cleaned prior to returning it to our ecosystems. So many coastal zones are badly polluted with wastewater, and the full economic costs of this pollution for fisheries, human health, and recreation are simply not captured by our current economic system.