Water is probably the world’s most essential condition for life on Earth. It affects all areas of human development, including agriculture, healthcare, tourism, energy, industry and education. Just 3% of the world’s water is freshwater and only 1.5% of this is easily accessible. Due to intensified demand, proper management of this finite and precious resource is becoming increasingly important to ensure water security for all members of the world’s growing population.

UN-Water defines water security as “the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human wellbeing, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against waterborne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.”

The powerful benefits of a water secure world are evidently far-reaching and something to strive for. Who wouldn’t want a world where everyone has access to clean and affordable water, protection from water-related disasters and diseases, and where poverty is reduced?

Unfortunately, universal water security still seems far off. To make it a reality, we need to take a number of measures such as protecting vulnerable water systems, mitigating the effects of flooding and droughts, and managing water resources in an integrated, participative and equitable manner.

Although there are plenty of ideas about how to solve this serious problem, action is not quick enough and is usually reactive and short-term in response to extreme events and natural disasters, rather than preventative.

So far, one big stumbling block has been that while countries around the world are all suffering from similar water problems, they generally only focus on their own crises in a small area. By improving access to quality and reliable global water data and fostering collaboration between a wide range of key players around the world, we have a greater chance of resolving Earth’s water crises and making water security a reality for all.

What do you think? How can we best solve the problem of water security?