Globally hundreds of millions of people in 100 cities across the globe could face massive water risks in the next few decades according to a new report by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Almost half of these 100 cities are in China, with other hotspots in South Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. The list includes cities such as Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Mecca and Rio de Janeiro. India also figures in the list with 30 cities that will face acute water crisis by 2050.
WWF global water stewardship lead Alexis Morgan said, “Cities across the world have paid a high price in recent years due to worsening water risks. From acute risks that have seen historic floods to chronic risks that have seen their taps running dry, the water challenges cities are facing are only going to increase in the coming decades because the impacts of climate change will primarily be felt through water.”
Mr Morgan said, “Companies, cities and investors - even ministries of finance - are finally waking up to the growing water risks facing the economy and the need to take urgent action to reduce their risks and tackle shared water challenges.”
He said, “By harnessing the new scenarios in the water risk filter, companies, cities and investors can better assess, respond and plan for climate and water resilience – helping to reduce water risks to their own operations as well as cities.”
Cutting water consumption and pursuing nature-based solutions to conserve water will also help reduce water risks. Apart from this, private sector companies and financial institutions will also have a role to play working in tandem with cites.
The report suggests that the smart cities initiative in India could aid an integrated urban water management framework. A multi-stakeholder engagement and ownership involving local communities can play an important role in creating and conserving a sustainable water infrastructure and rejuvenating urban freshwater systems.
WWF India programme director Dr Sejal Worah said, “The future of India’s environment lies in its cities and as India rapidly urbanises, cities will be at the forefront both for India’s growth and for sustainability.
“For cities to break away from the current vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer solutions. This is our chance to re-evolve and reimagine what the future of the cities could be,” said Dr Worah. A