How Can We Solve the Competition for Fresh Water?
Fresh water impacts nearly every aspect of human wellbeing. Water plays a key role in agriculture, industry, energy production, and household use. It is a resource that is both vitally important and susceptible to overuse. Population growth, rising living standards, and rapid industrialization are all leading to increasing water demand and (over)use and more intense competition for fresh water. We need better mechanisms to account for and meet the needs of natural ecosystems as well as the dependent, marginalized populations who rely on water for their life and livelihoods in fresh water allocation and management decisions. Such mechanisms must create incentives to manage fresh water efficiently and sustainably as an ecosystem service, which requires the costs of ecosystem maintenance to be incorporated in the costs of water use. The Rockefeller Foundation has partnered with several organizations to begin developing mechanisms for resolving competition for fresh water among multiple sectors operating at the food-water-energy nexus—and to do so in a way that provides adequate water security both for ecosystems and poor or otherwise vulnerable communities. This event will profile the work of the Foundation’s partner organizations who are currently designing solutions to this challenge in water-stressed river basins around the world.