Sábado 23 de Marzo 2024

Mexico Faces Dual Catastrophes: Climate Change and Water Scarcity

Over half of the country's land is plagued by drought, leaving nine million of our people without a reliable water supply

Water distribution networks suffer immense losses, up to 50% in certain areas.
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The climate emergency is inexorably linked to its escalating water crisis. Disruptions in weather patterns propel extreme conditions – droughts and floods accounted for 74% of all natural disasters between 2001 and 2018. These events exacerbate water shortages and contamination, undermining the availability of clean drinking water, particularly for marginalized communities. The increased frequency and severity of these climate-related incidents have catastrophic effects on our water systems, amplifying the transmission of water-borne diseases and fostering the proliferation of deadly pathogens in warmer freshwater sources.

Moreover, our water distribution networks suffer immense losses, up to 50% in certain areas, due to long-standing neglect and outdated infrastructure. This has led to a marked decline in public and private investment in the water sector for two decades, particularly in agriculture, which consumes 76% of our water. There is an urgent necessity for investment in water-efficient technologies and infrastructure, which presents a vital chance to introduce effective regulations, policies, and initiatives focused on wastewater management, water efficiency, and the restoration of aquatic ecosystems through sustainable practices. Treated wastewater, generated by millions, is a promising resource for irrigation and replenishing water bodies. Utilizing this can dramatically cut down on the need to tap into groundwater reserves. This approach needs to be complemented with green infrastructure as a critical component for ecosystems restoration

Mexico must embrace a new paradigm of water management that is sustainable, efficient, and resilient to climate change. We cannot afford a fragmented approach, which risks devastating our food production, ecosystems, public health, energy generation, and the production of goods and services. To confront these issues, a coalition of organizations has put forward a National Water Strategy that looks ahead to 2050, aiming to break the cycle of policy overhauls every six years. This strategy requires significant financial investment—140 billion pesos annually over a decade—to confront the water crisis. It encompasses modernizing our water infrastructure with state-of-the-art technology, significantly reducing leaks to enhance efficiency, investing in green infrastructure, and restoring ecosystems. This ambitious plan necessitates a commitment to intersectoral cooperation in addressing our water challenges.

A pivotal element of this strategy will be to align with climate policies that bolster adaptation and resilience, safeguarding the sustainability and availability of water resources for everyone.

By Raúl Rodríguez, President of the National Water Council & Isabel Studer, President of Sostenibilidad Global