A group of international stakeholders has called for global action to manage groundwater resources. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), UNESCO, the World Bank, and others have proposed a set of guiding principles that governments can use for groundwater management.
Groundwater resources have been degraded and depleted; it’s estimated that global groundwater withdrawals have tripled over the past half century. Groundwater pollution is widespread, and is threatening humans and the environment. Many urban aquifers suffer from sanitation issues; coastal aquifers may be exposed to saline water intrusion. Industrial pollution, pesticides and fertilizers often find their way into groundwater.
According to the FAO, groundwater accounts for more than a third of municipal and industrial water supply, and serves some 40 percent of the planet’s irrigated agriculture.
“Sustainable management of groundwater is key to maintaining ecosystems and adapting to climate change,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). “We can no longer take this invisible but vital source for granted; urgent action is needed to ensure its long term availability. We look forward to joining hands with partner agencies and countries to ensure water for drinking, food, cities, energy and industrial uses is available for generations to come.”
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