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On the occasion of World Water Day 2024 this article by Prof. Ganesh Channa (President World Environment Council) Water is one of the most vital resources for life on Earth, yet its availability and quality are increasingly under threat, giving rise to a global water crisis. This crisis stems from a combination of factors including population growth, climate change, pollution, and unsustainable water management practices. In this article, we delve into the current challenges and trends in water availability and quality worldwide.

Water Scarcity:

One of the most pressing issues facing the world today is water scarcity. With the global population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, the demand for freshwater is rapidly outpacing its supply. According to the United Nations, more than two billion people currently live in countries experiencing high water stress, and this number is expected to rise.

Climate Change Impact:

Climate change exacerbates the water crisis by altering precipitation patterns, increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, and melting glaciers and ice caps. These changes disrupt the water cycle, leading to uncertainty in water availability and distribution. Regions that rely on seasonal rainfall for agriculture and drinking water face heightened risks, exacerbating food insecurity and threatening ecosystems.

Water Pollution:

Water pollution poses a significant threat to both human health and the environment. Industrial discharge, agricultural runoff, untreated sewage, and plastic waste contaminate rivers, lakes, and oceans, rendering water sources unfit for consumption and recreation. Polluted water not only jeopardizes human health through waterborne diseases but also harms aquatic ecosystems, leading to declines in biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Groundwater Depletion:

Excessive extraction of groundwater for agriculture, industry, and municipal use is depleting aquifers faster than they can recharge. This overexploitation of groundwater leads to land subsidence, saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, and the loss of vital ecosystems such as wetlands. Groundwater depletion also undermines the resilience of communities during droughts, as they rely on groundwater as a buffer against water scarcity.

Urbanization and Water Stress:

Rapid urbanization exacerbates water stress in cities, as growing populations increase water demand for drinking, sanitation, and industrial purposes. Many urban areas face challenges in providing safe and reliable water supply and sanitation services to all residents, leading to inequalities in access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Informal settlements often bear the brunt of inadequate water infrastructure, heightening health risks and social disparities.

Water Governance and Management:

Effective water governance and management are essential for addressing the global water crisis. Integrated water resource management approaches that consider the interconnectedness of water systems, ecosystems, and human activities are crucial for sustainable water use. Promoting water conservation, improving water infrastructure, implementing water-saving technologies, and enhancing water governance frameworks can help mitigate the impacts of the water crisis and build resilience to future challenges.

International Cooperation and Partnerships:

Given the transboundary nature of many water resources, international cooperation and partnerships are vital for addressing the global water crisis. Collaborative efforts among governments, stakeholders, and communities can promote equitable and sustainable water management practices, facilitate knowledge sharing, and mobilize resources for water-related projects and initiatives.

In conclusion, the global water crisis presents complex challenges that require urgent and concerted action at local, national, and international levels. By understanding the current trends and challenges in water availability and quality, we can work towards sustainable solutions that ensure water security for present and future generations. From conservation and pollution prevention to equitable access and governance reforms, addressing the global water crisis requires collective efforts and commitment to safeguard this precious resource for all.

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New Delhi – With a resolute commitment to environmental sustainability, the World Environment Council’s President Prof. Ganesh Channa today is announcing the launch of its second global campaign for the “Environment Protection Bank” program, approved by the United Nations. Set to commence on 1st Jan 2024, this initiative is poised to make significant strides in instilling a sense of environmental responsibility in the hearts of students in schools and colleges across the globe.

The “Environment Protection Bank” program is a pioneering effort designed to empower educational institutions to become active contributors to environmental conservation. Endorsed by the United Nations, the program introduces a unique approach to fostering sustainability by encouraging schools and colleges to adopt eco-friendly practices and initiatives.

Key Objectives of the Campaign:

Global Participation: The campaign invites educational institutions worldwide to participate in this transformative program, fostering a united front in the global fight for environmental protection.

Hands-On Learning: The “Environment Protection Bank” program emphasizes practical, hands-on learning experiences to enable students to actively engage with environmental issues and solutions.

UN-Approved Curriculum: Leveraging the expertise of the World Environment Council and UN guidelines, the program integrates an UN-approved curriculum focused on environmental conservation and sustainable practices.

Incentivized Eco-Actions: Schools and colleges participating in the program will be encouraged to undertake eco-friendly initiatives, with tangible incentives provided through the “Environment Protection Bank.”

Youth Empowerment: The program aims to empower the youth to be ambassadors of environmental change, fostering a generation that is not only aware of environmental challenges but actively works towards solutions.

Why “Environment Protection Bank”?

The concept of an “Environment Protection Bank” is rooted in the idea that every positive action for the environment is an investment in our shared future. By fostering a culture of environmental responsibility within educational institutions, the program aims to create a ripple effect, influencing broader communities and societies.

How Schools and Colleges Can Participate:

Educational institutions interested in joining this global movement can register for the campaign on the World Environment Council’s official website. Detailed information about the program, curriculum, and participation guidelines is available to ensure a seamless and impactful integration of the “Environment Protection Bank” in schools and colleges worldwide.

The World Environment Council invites schools, colleges, educators, and students to join hands in this collective effort to build a sustainable future for our planet.

For more information and to register for the campaign, please visit World Environment Council’s official website: www.wec.org.in or contact +91-8130305369 Email id: worldenvironmentcouncil@gmail.com. Together, let’s bank on a greener future!

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Climate change is a big problem, but two young heroes are making a difference! Michelle Zárate Palomec from Mexico and Sebastian Mwaura from Kenya have been chosen for the UN Global Climate Action Awards. Let’s dive into their incredible stories.

Michelle Zárate Palomec: Water Warrior from Mexico

At the age of 27, Michelle is doing amazing things in her community in Oaxaca, Mexico. She is part of a group called Espacio de Encuentro de las Culturas Originarias. Together, they are helping indigenous communities get clean and enough water. In places where water is scarce and pollution makes life tough, Michelle is a hero.

The project helps these communities with cool and affordable technologies for cleaning water, fixing small areas, and being ready for bad weather. Michelle is the winner in the “resilient nature” category because of her work in making communities strong against challenges.

Sebastian Mwaura: Powering Change in Kenya

Sebastian, who is 35, is making waves in Kenya. He started Yna Kenya to speed up the use of electric cars. But he didn’t stop there. He also created the HerGo program to get more women into driving and owning electric cars. His plan is not just about cars but about using clean energy to power them.

Sebastian is the winner in the “energy transition” category. He believes using electric cars and having many places to charge them is a big part of making our future safe from climate change.

A Big Celebration Coming Up!

The UN Global Climate Action Awards will be given to Michelle and Sebastian on December 8, 2023, in Dubai. The event will be super cool with a famous journalist and climate supporter, Sophia Li, hosting. AY Young, who is not just a great singer but also a leader for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, will perform. There will also be music from Erick Marques, a DJ from Brazil.

Simon Stiell, the big boss at UN Climate Change, will speak at the ceremony. It’s going to be a celebration of these young leaders and their awesome efforts!

Why This Matters?

These awards are not just about clapping for Michelle and Sebastian. They show us that young people can make a big change. It’s like saying, “Hey, we can solve the climate problem if we work together!” Michelle and Sebastian are like superheroes, and their work is an example for all of us.

Thanks to UN Climate Change and partners like the International Renewable Energy Agency, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the United Arab Emirates for making these awards happen. Let’s celebrate the young heroes and hope their stories inspire more amazing actions for our planet!

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New Delhi – The United Nations in India (UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and United Nations Development Programme), in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry and the European Union, today hosted a B20 side event on how business can transform the lives of millions by driving sustainable, inclusive development. 

“Driving the 2030 Agenda through Responsible Business Actions” was held on the eve of the B20 India Summit, set for August 25- 27. The event highlighted how responsible business activities have the potential to help millions of people by offering access to social and economic opportunities while protecting our planet.

More than 60 private sector companies, including Sintesa Group, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Mahindra Group, and Bayer, among others, attended the event. It also spotlighted the value of businesses mapping their environmental and social footprints to achieve greater environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, gender equality, and streamlined value chains.

Shri. Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, delivered the keynote address at the event. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and said its economic stimulus provided to the private sector in India would drive sustainable growth. He said: “The private sector’s role in respect of the Sustainable Development Goals should not be limited to just financing and investment. There is a massive opportunity to achieve big efficiency gains; drive innovation; and enhance reputation, especially at a time when public distrust of business, especially big business, is high. India’s development objectives under the Modi Government are inherently aligned with the SDGs, and this is why we are succeeding. India’s success story is now being replicated in many developing countries. India itself is taking the lead to build bridges and establish a South-South Cooperation model for the SDGs.”

India, under its G20 Presidency, has pushed for sustainable, holistic, responsible, and inclusive development that is aligned with the B20 India theme of R.A.I.S.E – Responsible, Accelerated, Innovative, Sustainable, and Equitable Businesses. This gives businesses in India a unique opportunity to accelerate responsible business actions to drive economic growth and push for inclusive and sustainable development.

Delivering opening remarks, Mr. Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator in India, said: “From micro, small, and medium enterprises to global multinationals, business is ultimately the most powerful engine to drive us to 2030 and beyond. But across the world, we need to radically increase private sector financing, supply chains, and shareholder value aligned with the SDGs. I commend India’s G20 Presidency for making sustainability a priority and Indian companies for deploying capital at scale for the green transition, setting a remarkably fast pace.”

Earlier this year, the UN released the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report Special Edition, which highlights that the progress towards half of all SDG targets is weak and insufficient. Globally, emissions are rising, hunger is back to 2005 levels, and gender equality is 300 years away. On our current course, almost 600 million people in the world will still live in extreme poverty by 2030.

“That is why the role of businesses in supporting the SDGs is so important,” said Ms. Isabelle Tschan, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP India. She underscored the urgent need to make environment and social sustainability a priority in corporate governance and action. “Midway into 2030, the world is off track to realize the SDGs. We urge businesses to prioritize responsible actions across their operations, value chains, and investments to bring about positive transformation in the lives of millions of people, directly contributing to the fulfillment of the SDGs,” added Ms. Tschan.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) – the widely adopted set of principles for responsible business, endorsed in 2011 – call on both governments and companies to identify, prevent, mitigate, and remedy actual and potential human rights abuses. The UNGPs are not only a guide to help businesses respect human rights in their operations, but they are also a roadmap for businesses to contribute to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNDP, under its Business and Human Rights programme, has been working in India since 2018. We have supported governments, businesses, civil society, national human rights institutions, academia, and others to implement the UNGPs and advance responsible business practices throughout the global supply chain, and to enable Sustainable Economic Development through the Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework of the UNGPs.

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