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Experts Address Global Water Issues in Stockholm

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Kim Lewis
Over 2,500 leaders and experts from the world’s scientific, business, government and private sector communities are convening this week for the annual World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

The event is sponsored by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI.) It serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences that focus on creating solutions to the diverse global water challenges.
This year’s theme is “Water Cooperation -- Building Partnerships.”

SIWI Executive Director Torgny Holmgren notes the top issues on the agenda.

“First we do see an increased demand for water which means there is a risk for scarcity of water in the next few years to come. Second, we know that urbanization is driving people from rural areas to towns, and there’s a need for huge investments in infrastructure as well as water, in the urban areas of the world. And, three, a number of water resources are shared in- between countries, what we call cross-boundary water. We need to find agreements on how to share common water resources,” he explains.

The institute points out that as the world’s population continues to rapidly grow, there will be more people having to share an already limited supply of water. The convention focuses on water issues in various parts of the world including Africa, where Holmgren says there are a number of challenges.

“One of course is access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which is one of the targets on the millennium development goals right now, where we are progressing on access to safe drinking water, but, still have a long way to go on sanitation,” said Holmgren.

Another big area of concern is irrigation.

The executive director highlighted a practice that is already in place that will allow for better use of water, it is called drip and micro irrigation.

“We know that in a number of countries and areas, we have scarcities of water, and today we can use water smarter and more efficient by drip irrigation,” said Holmgren.

The world’s population is rapidly growing, and projected to swell over 9-billion by the year 2050. Holmgren warns with such an increase, the demand for water will grow by as much as 55-percent.

“Water is a limited resource, so that means we need to find ways and means to use water more efficiently in the future. We know we have areas that have droughts and floods, and we need to find common technical solutions on how to handle that. So water is now becoming a hot topic on the international agenda,” he said.

Holmgren emphasized the importance of sharing ideas -- such as what’s taking place at this week’s convention -- and on finding more efficient methods of using water for households, business and for food.

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