The UN-Water Expert Group on Water Scarcity has released an analytical briefing on water usage claiming that more efforts are needed to improve efficiency and accountability.
In a context of water scarcity worsened by extreme weather events and conflicts, the expert group, coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, provided an analysis on where the world stands in terms of water efficiency.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.4.1, according to the UN briefing, aims to “by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.”.
Water efficiency is measured in terms of wealth produced by the cubic meter and the world has seen a 9 Percent increase from 2015 to 2018. The industry sector is the driving force behind this trend with a 15 Percent increase. In agriculture, however, higher yields seem to be more dependent on increased water consumption.
The brief explains how, while there is evidence of some productivity gains by implementing technologies such as precision irrigation in agriculture, there is little or no evidence that the water which is being given different uses is going back into the environment.
“Water-use efficiency has to be backed up with carefully judged policies and regulatory measures. The benefits of any technical water-use efficiency gains can only be distributed equitably and sustainably with strong institutional purpose and means."