Water security crisis requires ‘urgent action’

July 4, 2018

Major forum addresses ‘biggest danger facing the world over next decade’

Urgent action is required to tackle a growing global water security crisis, says the director of the UK’s largest water research consortium following a major forum.

Dr Isabelle Durance, director of the GW4 Water Security Alliance, said unprecedented challenges were putting world water resources under ever greater pressure.

Industry, government and charities joint forces with researchers to address regional, national and global water security challenges at an event in Bristol on 28 June 2018.

Water in a Changing World was organised by the GW4 Water Security Alliance, one of the largest in the world of its type with a £50m research portfolio and more than 200 water researchers.

The work is part of the wider GW4 Alliance, which brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Dr Durance, who is also director of Cardiff University’s Water Research Institute, said: “What was already a very precarious situation has been turned into a critical one by challenges such as population growth and climate change.

“In fact the World Economic Forum has said that the biggest long-term danger facing the world over the next decade is water security.

“If we do nothing, then the consequences for people and ecosystems in large parts of the world could be catastrophic. Water insecurity can lead to food and energy shortages, biodiversity loss, poverty, and an increased threat of conflict.”

Water in a Changing World brought together key academics across the GW4 universities, together with external stakeholders from the water industry, government, regulators, charities and funders. The panel discussions and lively breakout sessions throughout the event will help inform the development of future research and training to help tackle some of the challenges facing water resources.

Dr Durance said the UK was not immune to the effects of climate change and faced its own water security challenges.

“The Environment Agency in England says the time it takes to refill water supplies, combined with variable weather conditions and a diverse landscape, means we could see water shortages in some areas at the same time as flooding in others,” she said.

Dr Sarah Perkins, Director of the GW4 Alliance, said: “The GW4 Alliance is bringing together expertise from a variety of disciplines and organisations across the region to create a powerful research group that can have a real impact on the global water security crisis.

“We must work together to ensure there is enough water of the right quality in the right place at the right time for people, farming, businesses and environment.”

You can follow discussions from the day on twitter with #gw4water