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393. Prepare for the Looming Water Crisis

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On October 5, 2021, Dr. Syukuro Manabe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, and his work in building atmospheric and oceanic models to predict the mechanism by which rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide will lead to higher temperatures has attracted much attention. In fact, the increased frequency of extreme events such as floods and droughts due to climate change and the changes in rainfall patterns at the global and regional levels due to rising temperatures are having a significant impact on food security and human welfare through changes in the agricultural season.

On October 5, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its white paper, 2021 State of Climate Services: Water, stressing the urgent need for policy development and investment in sustainable development goals, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk mitigation. A website that visually presents the key messages of the report has been released at the same time. Here is a summary of the main points.

  • Despite the fact that water is a prerequisite for human development, only 0.5% of the earth's water is available as freshwater.
  • Over the past two decades, ground water loss has been progressing at a rate of 1 cm per year.
  • 2.3 billion people (30% of the world's population of 7.8 billion) live in countries with limited access to water, and 7.33 million of them live in countries where access to water is not particularly guaranteed.。
  • Between 1970 and 2019, 2.06 million lives and $3.6 trillion in economic benefits were lost due to water-related weather and climate disasters. During this period, 55% of the disasters and 31% of the economic losses were flood-related, mostly in Asia, and especially since 2000, flood-related disasters have increased by 134% compared to the previous two decades. During the same period, droughts claimed 700,000 lives, mostly in Africa, and since 2000, the frequency and duration of droughts have increased by 29% compared to the previous two decades.
  • The application of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) will be critical to achieving long-term social, economic, and environmental goals.

According to the World Bank, in many parts of the world, more than 70% of freshwater is reportedly used for agriculture; a 15% increase in water use by agriculture is projected to increase agricultural production by 50% in order to feed the world's population of 9 billion by 2050. Innovation is needed to prepare for climate change and to make agricultural water use more efficient than ever before. 



World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 2021 State of Climate Services (WMO-No. 1278)  https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=10815 

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)

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