Better urban water management needed

23rd August 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Water ,
  • Local government ,
  • Central government ,
  • Food and drink ,
  • Natural resources



Water shortages could damage economic growth and trap billions of people in poverty if infrastructure in cities is not improved, warn experts at the start of World Water Week 2011.

In opening the week-long conference in Stockholm, Anders Berntell, head of the Stockholm International Water Institute, called on governments and policy makers to ensure cities are able to cope with the effects of climate change and increased population density.

“Investments in water infrastructure have not kept up with the pace of urbanisation,” he warned. “Water tends to be undervalued and in many parts of the world weak governance and financially unviable operations threaten water security.

“By 2030, in a business-as-usual scenario, humanity’s demand for water is predicted to outstrip supply by as much as 40%, which would place water, energy and food security at risk, hamper economic development, lead to social and geopolitical tensions and cause irreparable environmental damage in mature and developing economies alike.”

Berntell argues that effective, efficient water management in cities is the key to avoiding disaster in the future and points to London, Beijing and Phnom Penh as good examples of urban centres that have made significant improvements to their water use in recent years.

“With urbanisation come new opportunities. Cities give great economies of scale and provide excellent opportunities for effective infrastructure development, for increased re-use of water and waste, and for more efficient use of water and energy,” he said.

“However, urban water management strategies cannot be limited to the city itself. In order for the solutions to be sustainable, cities need to plan with the whole basin in mind so as not to increase tensions between rural and urban areas and to avoid downstream pollution and environmental degradation.”

Around 2,500 delegates from 130 countries are attending the 21st World Water Week event, entitled “Responding to global changes - water in an urbanising world”.

Throughout the week experts and attendees will debate the challenges in ensuring water supplies in cities and, at the close of the conference, will publish a declaration intended to provide ideas and support to the UN conference on sustainable development to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

Nestlé water winner

International food manufacturer Nestlé will be presented with the Stockholm Industry Water Award during the conference this week in recognition of its achievements in reducing water consumption and waste.

Over the past decade, Nestlé has cut the amount of water used in its food production by 32%, despite increasing overall output by 72%. It has also reduced total waste water discharge by more than 40%.

Nestlé also provides expert training and technical support for 300,000 farmers, to reduce water consumption at the farm level.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Swing voters show strong support for renewables

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close