Water scarcity ‘rising’, fears UN report | So what can industry do?

Two women sit on a water fountain in the middle of the desert

Water scarcity ‘rising’, fears UN report | So what can industry do?

Organisations from across the film, media, and entertainment industry are teaming with NGO and United Nations representatives, as well as industry leaders and policymakers, to drive public awareness of the global water crisis.

Rallied by the teams at Wastebuster working with Products of Change, the cross-industry alliance seeks to educate an inspire children and young people to take positive action in the conservation and stewardship of global water supplies. 

The initiative has been detailed in the lead up to what has been dubbed by the UN as Water Action Decade, a new and concerted effort to drive awareness of global water issues and associated risks of water scarcity.

The first swathe of activity is planned to officially launch during the inaugural UK Water Week (20th – 26th May, 2024) which is being developed as a ‘blueprint for global replication’ while coinciding with the World Water Forum in Bali (18-24th May, 2024).

This all follows the release of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2024, published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water. According to the report, 2.2 billion people still live without access to safely managed drinking water while 3.5 billion lack access to safely managed sanitation.

The UN has said that, currently, its Goal to ensure access to water for all by 2030 ‘is far from being attained’ suggesting instead that there is now reason to fear ‘these inequalities may continue to rise.’

Among the numerous impacts of water scarcity listed in the report, the UN highlights the deterioration of living conditions, heightened food insecurity, health risks, and ultimately the increased risk of conflict.

Empowering and Educating Young People

Wastebuster and Products of Change have started a campaign to rally industry and help empower and educate young people about the subject of water. Plans were first announced at a Parliamentary gathering in November 2023, when representatives from 180 organisation convened as part of the Water Week consultation.

“Working together, we aim to harness the power of entertainment for social change and inspire children and young people to appreciate the importance of water conservation, and to activate real and measurable change through mass civic engagement,” said Katy Newnham, founder of Wastebuster.

“We aim to deliver world class STEAM education for children and young people not only in schools but through mainstream children’s media, by engaging with some of the greatest scientists and storytellers of our time.”

The campaign will also look to “identify solutions” for the maintenance and restoration of the health and well-being of water ecosystems in the countries in which Water Week takes place. The theme for UK Water Week 2024 will be ‘youth engagement and water pollution’ and invites companies and organisations to unite to improve outcomes for water and the environment.

Helena Mansell-Stopher, founder of Products of Change, said: “It’s about time the public sector and private sector, educators and the whole of industry and NGOs started working together as one because that collective voice can drive so much more change.”

Preparations are now underway for launch events and youth summits in the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and Northern Irish Assembly to encourage schools and young people to take water action pledges.

Caroline Petit, deputy director of the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC), said: “We know what we have to do. We have the roadmap with the Sustainable Development Goals. So let us take action and protect, sustainably manage, and ensure equitable access to water for all. Progress depends on our actions, not our words.”

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