Global Community Should ‘Embrace Unconventional Water Resources’ To Achieve SDG 6

Project Syndicate: Where the Water Is
Manzoor Qadir, assistant director, and Vladimir Smakhtin, director, both at the U.N. University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH)

“…[G]overnments must abandon their outdated assumption that tapping unconventional water sources would be technically impractical or excessively costly. Efforts should be made to analyze the potential benefits of such investment, taking into account the economic, social, environmental, and health trade-offs of water scarcity. … The private sector also has a role to play in the shift toward unconventional water resources — a role that must extend beyond current efforts to tap desalinated water and urban greywater and wastewater. Finally, local institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and local communities must be mobilized … Sustainable Development Goal 6 calls for universal access to clean water and sanitation. If governments do not embrace unconventional water resources, achieving that goal will be as difficult as getting water from a stone — and the consequences for water-scarce regions will be dire” (5/17).