The FUTURE of WATER: AVAILABILITY, DISTRIBUTION AND PROVISIONING
Natural resources on Earth are finite, and some of them - such as water - control the fate of societies and human life. If water is scarce, droughts and famine can appear. If water is too much, floods and landslides are expected. Water quality, then, is a crucial element for human health and wellbeing: Organic, chemical or radioactive pollution can make entire water reservoirs unfit for drinking and/or agricultural purposes. For all these reasons, there is widespread consensus that water is one of the essential resources of future decades, whose distribution and availability are exposed to the vagaries of global and climate change. New and more efficient management and distribution systems are required, together with improved ability to desalinize sea water.
The increasing human population will put larger pressures on natural water resources, including shallow and deep aquifers. As a result, discussions are ongoing on public versus private water management (a topic with significant implications on environmental policies and the type of society we aim at), on the best approaches to technology transfer to developing countries, and on the contrast between the needs and views of different interest groups.
Central to any foresight exercise, the issue of future water quality, quantity, availability and management is a complex arena where science, technology, policy and ethics meet each other, not without clashes. It is to the scientists to develop indications on the best strategies to address these problems, helping to build the future we want.
The topic of future water quantity and quality is central to ongoing discussions at all policy and science levels, as well as to many European and international research, technology and management projects.
Here, we adopt a long-term view and address the issue of water in its broadest sense, from changes in precipitation owing to climate and land-use change, to water pollution, effects on soil and ecosystems, the expected dangers of flooding and droughts, the identification of the best management strategies and the related geopolitical hazards. In April 2016, an exploratory workshop on the theme of future water quality, quantity and management has been organized. As a result, a report and a roadmap on future water has been prepared, and a first Face to Face workshop, discussing the most relevant water questions will be organized before the end of 2017.
WG COORDINATOR: Antonello Provenzale
Ph: + 39 345 4495858