Humanity’s demand for water is growing. Pressure on water resources is increasing due to overuse, pollution and climate change. Droughts and heatwaves are becoming more intense and more frequent. Sea-level rise is driving salt-water intrusion into coastal aquifers. Groundwater aquifers are being depleted.
Water can be a source of conflict but also of cooperation. It is essential that we work together to provide better stewardship of all water sources, including the world’s supply of groundwater. Groundwater is out of sight, but we cannot afford for it to be out of mind. Stored in rocks and soil, groundwater is our biggest source of liquid freshwater. It sustains drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming, industry and ecosystems. Yet, some 20 per cent of the world’s aquifers are being overexploited.
In many places, we simply do not know how much of this precious resource might exist. We need to improve our exploration, monitoring and analysis of groundwater resources to protect and better manage them and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Next year’s United Nations Water Conference provides a decisive opportunity to galvanize action on water for sustainable development. On this World Water Day, let us commit to intensifying collaboration among sectors and across borders so we can sustainably balance the needs of people and nature and harness groundwater for current and future generations.