The 2006 United Nations report on Human Development is titled “Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis”. It does not leave much doubt on what it focuses on.
Besides actual shortages of physical supply of water, the report argues that the roots of the crisis can be traced to inequality and flawed water management policies.
And it is certainly true that freshwater scarcity is a worldwide issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that half the world’s population will face water shortages by 2025. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), projects water shortages for 36 states by 2013.
Population growth, climate change, urbanization, industrial development and the needs of farmers all drive the demand up for a finite and diminishing resource
Given the transnational nature of the problem (water does not know of frontiers), there is clearly a scope for well-defined public policies and international cooperation.
To give it a local perspective, we can look at the situation of the Great Lakes. In a recently published report , the International Joint Commission, a US-Canada organization to advise about the use and quality of boundary waters, gives that very same recommendation.
The report focuses on a single theme:
Accountability for protecting, restoring and maintaining Great Lakes water quality.
This will require that the parties involved (that is, the US and Canada) work together to create the means – a framework – by which they can be held accountable for progress toward achieving this objective.
And THAT IS indeed a jolly good objective, as the “Lakes of the Amerikey” are truly magnificent “inland seas” that many more generations should enjoy.