STORY: First global water resources report - WMO
TRT: 2 mins 50s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 29 November 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
More than five billion people are expected to face inadequate water access at least once a month per year due to severe climate change which causes extreme weather events such as flooding and frequent drought. All are having cascading effects one economies, ecosystems and all aspect of daily lives. This is the result of the first report of the State of Global Water Resources in 2021 published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
“Today we have 2,3 billion inhabitants of the planet which are suffering from water challenges and by 2050 we expect to see up to 5 billion people suffering from those,” said Professor Petteri Taalas, WMO’s Secretary-General.
From 2001 to 2018, 74 per cent of all natural disasters were water-related, according to UN studies. The report gives an overview of how climate change is reducing river levels and melting glaciers as global temperatures are more than 1,1 °C higher than in pre-industrial times.
The recent UN climate change conference, COP27, urged that governments should integrate water into adaption efforts – the first-time water has been referenced in a COP outcome document.
“This COP decided to endorse an investment of the 3.1 billion USD for the coming five years to improve the basic observing infrastructure of meteorology and hydrology and also early warning service skills in half of the member countries of WMO”, said Professor Taalas.
Last year, all regions suffered devastating water extremes, the report said. Significant flood events were reported with numerous casualties, among others, from China, northern, India and western Europe.
“We had this very severe flooding even here in Europe. In Germany and Belgium, where we had all together almost 300 casualties, which is demonstrating that not even the developed world is protected from such things to happen,” said WMO’s Secretary-General. He added that the “most dramatic one has been the flooding in Pakistan where we had low-pressure areas moving day by day along the same paths, and that was having major impacts on the well-being of the people and economies. Up to one third of the country was in the worst case flooded.”
The report also shows that large parts of the world were drier than normal in 2021.
“Then we saw these severe heat waves and drought here in Europe, in China and also in western parts of United States and there was also one hurricane which was hitting both USA and Cuba », said Professor Taalas. “The biggest impact of the hurricane was felt through water. It was very much flooding.”
Drought in the Horn of Africa has led to a devastating food crisis affecting 18 million people. Not even intense rainfall between December 2020 to February 2021, typically the dry season in the region, helped alleviate the situation.
The report said about 1.9 billion people lived in areas where drinking water was supplied by glaciers and snow melt, but these glaciers are melting increasingly fast.
According to Professor Taals, “here in Switzerland, we have just broken less comfortable record in melting of Alpine glaciers. During the past 20 years, we have seen decrease of the Alpine Glacier, but we were hitting the record last summer when we lost 6.2% of the glacier because of the heat wave.”
The report said governments must increase their actions in introducing of early warning systems for floods and droughts to help reduce the effects of water extremes.