The dimensions of the global water crisis can be defined in human terms: about 1 billion people without access to safe drinking water and about 2.6 billion people without access to adequate sanitation facilities. The consequences for wellbeing of societies are severe; the World Health Organization estimates that unsafe water and poor sanitation cause an estimated 80 per cent of all diseases in the developing world. Underlying this crisis is a major policy failure to regulate societal water demands, which mismatch the available water resources. The result is increasing water scarcity and pollution, which will likely be further exacerbated in many regions due to global warming. This crisis presents a unique challenge as well as an opportunity to the international development community. As a country ostensibly rich in water resources, Canada can play a key role in addressing the global water crisis and leading the international community. This may take three forms. First, Canada can lead the way by demonstrating the use of novel management approaches and cutting edge 'green' technologies within the country. Second, the rich expertise in water management and the technological know-how can directly be used (exported) to address water challenges faced in developing countries. Third, the development aid provided by Canada to its target countries can be significantly leveraged to address the water challenges in these developing economies while reducing poverty, and to canvass other donors to follow suit. The recent economic crisis and resulting push to create green businesses offers an opportunity to Canada to take on this leadership role in addressing the global water crisis.
Dr. Zafar Adeel - Biographical Sketch
Zafar Adeel is the Director of United Nations University’s (UNU) International Network on Water, Environment and Health. He has served with UNU since 1998 and holds a Master’s Degree from Iowa State University (1992) and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University (1995). He has also served as a Senior Engineer at GeoTrans Inc. for a number of years before joining UNU. He has experience in a variety of water and environmental issues, including monitoring and control of water pollution, water management in dry areas, solutions to industrial environmental problems, modeling of environmental systems and environmental policy formulation. He has led the development of a network of scientists working in water-scarce countries, particularly those in Africa, Middle East and Asia.
Through his editorial lead, this network has published eight books in the UNU Desertification Series: New Technologies to Combat Desertification (199), Water Management in Arid Zones (2000), New Approaches to Water Management in Central Asia (2001), Integrated Water Management in Dry Areas (2001), Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands (2003), Challenges of Drylands in the New Millennium (2004), Desertification and the International Policy Imperative (2007), and What Makes Traditional Technologies Tick (2009). He co-chaired the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment team that produced the global desertification synthesis. He has also served on the editorial boards of Sustainability Science (Springer) and Global Environmental Change (Elsevier Science). He has studied formulation of environmental policy and governance at several levels; his book on this topic is East Asian Perspectives in Environmental Governance – Response in a Rapidly Developing Region (UNU Press 2003). He serves as an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at the McMaster University.