United Nations Environmental Programme Development of

United Nations Environmental Programme
Development of alternative sources/preservation of freshwater resources
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global
environmental authority that sets the global environment agenda, promotes the coherent
implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United
Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. The UNEP
focuses on seven different thematic priorities: climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem
management, environmental governance, chemicals and waste, resource efficiency, and the
environment under review. The Green Economy Initiative (GEI), advocate by UNEP, is designed
to assist governments in “greening” their economies by reshaping and refocusing policies,
investments, and spending towards a range of sectors, such as clean technologies, renewable
energies, water services, green transportation, waste management, green buildings and
sustainable agriculture and forests. Sustainability, as it is a common term, in the environmental
sense refers to: the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural
resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.
Delegates will represent their nation’s pressing concerns with freshwater resources,
potential solutions, the practicality of the implementation of proposed solutions, and the cost of
such. Delegates will seek to find a solution that is not only effective but also is able to be
implemented across all of the member states and how such implementation will be paid for,
enforced, and monitored.
Human life is inexhaustibly reliant on freshwater. While the Earth is made up of 70
percent of water, only 2.5 percent of that water is fresh. Of that 2.5 percent, only 1 percent is
easily accessible for our use. The other 1.5 percent is mostly trapped in icecaps, glaciers, and
snowfields. Some regions seem to have an excess of freshwater, while others are facing issues of
drought. In much of the developing world, clean water is either hard to come by or a commodity
that requires laborious work or significant payment to obtain. The challenge facing the UNEP is
how to effectively conserve, manage, and distribute the water due to the alarming statistic that by
2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued with water scarcity with twothirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and
climate change.
One of the challenges of implementing environmental solutions is that they may be very
costly and nations must weigh that cost with the other expenses they must face in regards to their
people and what is best for their state. Environmental endeavors typically get set aside during
times of economic or social strife. The solution needs to be as cost efficient and able to be
implemented across all nation-states as possible.
China is proceeding with a massive $60 billion project to transfer water from the Yangtze
River Basin in the south the water-short north. If completed this would be the largest
construction project on earth and would transfer 1.5 trillion cubic feet of water per year. Many
other large rivers, such as Colorado, Rio Grande, Yellow, Indus, Ganges, Amu Darya, Murray,
and the Nile are overtapped so that even if China’s plan is enacted many other regions will still
be in strife and not all can afford such an expensive plan.
Past water policies, in an attempt to meet human demands, relied on massive
infrastructure, such as dams, aqueducts, pipelines, and complex centralized treatment plants.
While seemingly successful, these facilities were beneficial to countless people however, they
had issues with unanticipated or unaccounted for social, economic, and ecological costs. Not
only did these infrastructures not solve all of the water issues it is becoming more clear that this
approach is no longer sufficient. A new solution for the 21st century is a transition into soft-path
solutions which complement centralized physical infrastructure with lower community-scale
systems, decentralized and open decision-making, water markets and equitable pricing,
applications of efficient technology, and environmental protection. This soft-path solution is one
of many the UNEP needs to take into consideration.
The UNEP in part with WaterLex, released a book titled Good Practices for Regulating
Wastewater Treatment: Legislation, Policies, and Standards on 26 August 2015 describing the
successful examples throughout the world of converting wastewater to profit and the positive
impact it has on the environment. The US treats 75 percent of wastewater however, only uses a
little less than 4 per cent leading to a very high cost of investment and a loss of profit and an
ineffective environmental treatment plan. The US system may be broken but the wastewater
treatment plan is successful in other nations who have put it into practice such as: Australia,
Finland, Jordan, and Singapore. One of the major areas where there needs to be something done
about wastewater getting into the waterways and causing twice the child mortality rate of
neighboring nations is in the Buenos Aires water way located in Argentina. The removal,
treatment, and reuse of wastewater is an important topic to discuss in relation to the national
water crisis.
Not only does the UNEP need to find a solution to save freshwater resources in the long
run, there also needs to be an agreement reached of immediate action that needs to be taken to
preserve our freshwater resources. The UNEP is faced with issues of distributing water to places
in need and also consider a limit on water consumption and the allocation of freshwater and
where to get it from. Another topic that should be considered is finding other sources instead of
freshwater to use. Drinking water obviously cannot be replaced but using alternative sources for
other aspects of life in which we use freshwater that is not necessarily efficient.
Other Resources
It is imperative, and in the delegates best interest, to research proposed solutions and
possibilities for the conservation and preservation of freshwater resources. As mentioned earlier
the UNEP just released Good Practices for Regulating Wastewater Treatment: Legislation,
Policies, and Standards, wastewater should be looked into and this is a good source to use.
Works Cited
"Global Freshwater Resources: Soft-path Solutions for the 21st Century." National Center for
Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015.
"National Geographic Freshwater 101: Rivers." National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Sept.
2015. <http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/rivers/>.
United Nations Environment Programme. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Sept. 2015. <http://www.unep.org>.
"Wastewater Is an Underestimated Resource We Should Not Squander, Says UN Study." United
Nations Environment Programme. N.p., 26 Aug. 2015. Web.