A range of issues are emerging related to water management at a global scale, including: pollution, plastic and pharmaceuticals; water resource data availability; private water supplies; flood and/or drought; solving water and sanitation access issues; how to engage local people in sustainable water delivery. Even where there are well developed infrastructures to manage water and sanitation provision, there are some important 21st century problems that require focused attention in order to protect ecosystem and human health across the world in future.
For example, new approaches to solving water issues in the developing world like integrated water resource management (IWRM), or adaptive water management (AWM), which are intended to be more holistic approaches to managing water in a country, have not taken hold, often due to lack of local capacity and resources.
From a climate change perspective, industrial activities have led to atmospheric changes that are considered to be dangerous interference in the water cycle and water pollution levels. On an international level, therefore, significant wealth and technology transfers are needed to enable developing countries to break free from adverse trade agreements with developed countries, reduce pollution burdens, and to reduce conflict. On a local scale, climate policy must facilitate sustainable development of local communities with renewable, community based energy infrastructures at their core. In addition, the larger global impacts on water due to the expansion of plastics and pharmaceuticals usage require urgent global action.
Increasing global water scarcity is due to poor water management and resource insufficiency, increasing populations, rapid urbanization, industrialization and deforestation, as well as the effects of climate change, all of which are having impacts on environmental migration. Given that the main uses of water are for food and energy production and environmental security, there is increasing demand for it as populations increase. As economies develop, eating patterns change and diets move from vegetarian to meat eating, with the increased water footprints that result. Biofuels, which are one of the ‘sustainable’ energy production options, have become popular, but use 70-400 times more water than do fossil fuels.
Climate justice principles demand that both local communities and indigenous peoples should be made aware, be consulted and be active crafters, as well as beneficiaries of solutions to their water access issues. If that were to happen the people would have more involvement in solving issues that lead to conflict, insecurity and migration.
This special issue aims to present some currently emerging work on these complex problems that offer the potential to understand the scale of, or provide potential solutions to these problems.