Water: a scarce resource needing everyone’s care
Since 1993 when it was first designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations, World Water Day has been celebrated by holding forums, debates and activities mainly for the common goal of raising awareness worldwide of the essential function of water and of the problems related to this resource in short supply, together with finding solutions to manage water resources in the most efficient way possible
We have all heard many times that water is essential for all the lifeforms on our planet. Our ecosystems, society and economy need water to be able to prosper and grow, yet water resources are in short supply and vulnerable, due, among other reasons, to pollution and overuse by man. Along with these, one of the greatest threats to water and to the human race itself, is climate change, which has important repercussions on the availability of water resources. The UN has forecasted an increase in temperatures and extreme changes affecting the distribution of rain, snow fusion, the course of rivers and underground water, which could deteriorate water quality and cause shortages of that valuable resource in many areas of the planet. It is therefore necessary to raise awareness of the effect that climate change may have on water, and a comprehensive. multisector and multidisciplinary response must be sought.
Within the European Union, environmental policies on water matters have special significance and are directed towards protecting water resources and ensuring their environmental quality. For this reason, as early as in 2000, the EU Water Framework Directive (DMA) was approved, adopting a comprehensive “ecosystemic” system based on protecting the aquatic ecosystems and focusing equally on the quality of water, the amount of water and its role as habitats. In Spain, concern over water was behind basing the design of its water governance system on planning, public participation and on technological development and innovation. In this vein, a host of policies and steps concerning waters matters have been carried out by the various public authorities, such as an adequate water planning system, sustainable management of water resources, service efficiency through, for example, the modernization of irrigation systems or water sanitation and treatment and safety for citizens. And recently (in January 2016), approval was given to the revision of the Water Plans for the twelve intercommunity river basin districts, and to four intercommunity river basin districts, among other goals, to achieve better and more efficient water management.
Lastly, it is important to be mindful that none of the polices undertaken by the various public authorities can flourish if we as individuals do not contribute to the improvement of water management and quality. The reason being that, just like the air we breathe, water is a necessary resource which must be safeguarded and protected to achieve sustainable development. So, on World Water Day, we wanted to invite you to think about the importance of this scarce resource and to take steps in your daily routine which will help ensure the sustainability of such a valuable resource.
Garrigues Environmental Law Department