Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030 is what the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) establishes. However, ensuring water quality depends on several factors, among them, the preservation of natural ecosystems, pollution control and proper domestic and industrial waste discharge and treatment
Reducing the pressure on natural ecosystems to ensure water in desirable quantity and quality is one of the subjects discussed on the Your Voice platform, which is an online public consultation and discussion space. Contributions registered on the platform will be presented at a special session at the 8th World Water Forum, which will be held on March 18-23, 2018, in Brasilia. To join Your Voice platform, simply register here. Participation will be open until March 12.
There are five thematic discussion rooms and, in many of them, it is possible to find records on the need to protect and restore water-related ecosystems. For example, in the Urban room, the protection of water springs and waste treatment have been recurring topics. In this room, one of the discussions is how the rapid growth of cities has required the adoption of sustainable and integrated processes of water and waste management.
For professor David Silva Fagundes, President of Taguatinga’s Agenda 21, there is an urgent need for effective actions so that water springs and courses have their natural flow and meet the growing demands of the Federal District’s population. "Many of the water sources in the Federal District have not even been mapped out through geoprocessing," he recorded at the Your Voice platform.
Another Brazilian participant on the platform, Haroldo Cesar, is of the opinion that Brazil will have at this moment of the 8th World Water Forum "a fundamentally important role in the improvement of the SDGs, for since 1992, with the Rio 92 conference, and in 2012, with the Rio + 20, the agenda for sustainable development has been set."
Haroldo Cesar posted that the Paranapanema valley regions (SP), rich in water springs and major rivers, has serious sanitation problems, which are made worse by the waste discharged into rivers, with little or no treatment. "And here in Brazil, we must put an end to any destructive action such as suppression of native forests, as it is known that this has direct influence on the climate crisis and disastrous consequences in the hydrological cycles of the planet," he states.
Meanwhile, participants from India, Pakistan and Uruguay indicate the challenges in their countries and the need to protect the water bodies, to have adequate infrastructure to treat effluents, and to contribute to more sustainable cities.
Mohammad Faiz Alam, from India, one of the moderators of the Urban Room, reports that it is possible to identify in the debates "problems that are common in all regions, and to understand people’s concerns." Holding a Master in Environmental Engineering, Mohammad Faiz Alam explains that, in most cases, participants’ comments concern local issues. "What I try to do as moderator is to understand the comment in the local and global context and find information and examples that may be interesting and useful to other participants," he commented.
According to the United Nations World Water Development Report 2017, more than 80% of all wastewater is discharged into the environment without proper treatment, causing negative impacts on human health, economic productivity, the quality of fresh waters and ecosystems.
"Generally, the management of wastewater receives little social and political attention in comparison to the challenges concerning water supply, especially in the context of water scarcity. However, according to the study, the two processes are intrinsically linked – neglecting wastewater can cause negative impacts on the sustainability of water supply human health, the economy and the environment."
In Brazil, the Wastewater Atlas: Basin Decontamination brings the analysis of the sanitation status of 5,570 Brazilian cities and the impacts of the deployment of sewage in rivers, lakes and reservoirs in the country. According to the document, 9.1 tons of raw sewage is generated per day, and 45% of the population lacks sewage treatment, whereas 55% have adequate sanitation.
Still according to the study by the Brazilian Water Agency (ANA) in partnership with the National Secretariat and Environmental Sanitation of the Ministry of Cities, with the collaboration of federal, state and municipal institutions, more than 110,000 km of rivers stretches have their water quality compromised due to excess of organic loads. In 83,450 km of them, collection for public supply is no longer allowed due to pollution, and in 27,040 km, collection can be done, but it requires advanced treatment.
Vision and goals for a better world for all
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015. The Development Agenda offers a global coordinated action between governments, businesses, academia and civil society to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and its 169 targets in order to eradicate poverty and promote decent living standards for all within the limits of the planet. To learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals, please visit http://www.agenda2030.org.br/.
* With information from the Your Voice Platform, Unesco and the Brazilian Water Agency.