Over 2500 Water Professionals convening today at the opening session of the 2011 World Water Week in Stockholm called for increased investments in disaster-resilient infrastructure and smarter water management to avoid droughts, floods and pollution from further threatening the food, energy, and water security in a rapidly urbanising world.
“More than 800 million people live in slums, where water related diseases, such as diarrhoea, malaria and cholera have devastating effects on the livelihood of families and the economies of their countries,” – said Anders Berntell, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), convenors of the yearly event.
He warned that “we run the risk of losing the battle on water and sanitation in many cities around the world, and that is a fight we cannot afford to lose.”
Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson stressed in her speech that ”increased access to clean water supplies and sanitation is an important catalytic force for development. The costs of not acting far exceed the costs of well-functioning, sustainable water resource management.”
She also emphasised that “the efficient use of, and equitable access to, water and sanitation in urban areas must figure prominently at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012.”
Also speaking at the opening session, the 2011 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, Professor Stephen R. Carpenter of the University of Wisconsin-Madison highlighted that producing food for more people and bigger cities will strain available freshwater resources. “We need an agriculture that can feed 9 billion people while maintaining the water supplies and other ecosystem services that people need. The connections between food and water security have never been more important,” he said.