Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard Boyd last week spoke about water scarcity at the WWT event ‘Water Security in a Changing Environment’.

“Drought is on the verge of becoming the next pandemic and there is no vaccine to cure it. Most of the world will be living with water stress in the next few years. Demand will outstrip supply during certain periods.”

Read the speech here.

Extreme weather – World news

Hundreds of people have died from the ongoing heatwave in Canada and the north-west US (the BBC). At the same time, other parts of the US are experiencing ‘potentially the worst drought in 1,200 years’ (the Guardian), with water levels at the Hoover Dam, the largest reservoir in the country, at historically low levels (BBC). The associated wildfires threaten water quality and are putting urban water supplies at risk (NY Times). Meanwhile, new research from Leeds University suggests the Amazon rain forests could be at far higher risk of extreme drought than previously thought (Science Daily).

New UN report

Drought is a hidden global crisis that risks becoming “the next pandemic” if countries do not take urgent action on water and land management and tackling the climate emergency.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Prevention has far lower human, financial and environmental costs than reaction and response.
  • Increased understanding of complex systemic risks and improved risk governance can lead to effective action on drought risk.
  • Drought resilience partnerships at the national and local levels will be critical to managing drought in a warming world where rainfall will become ever more unpredictable and require practical solutions to tackle issues like deforestation, excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, overgrazing, salination, waterlogging and soil erosion.
  • A mechanism for drought management at the international and national levels could help address the complex and cascading nature of drought risk.
  • Financial systems and services need to evolve to encourage cooperative approaches, to promote social protection mechanisms and to encourage risk transfer and contingent financing, so as to provide diversified adaptive support to drought risk management.
  • New pathways are needed to encourage inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge, sharing of values and opportunities for realizing the benefits of effective risk governance, and effective sharing of drought risk management experiences.

Read the press release here.

Covered in the Guardian.

Watch the UN launch promo here.

Download the report from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction here.

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