U.S. Water Partnership Launched to Address Global Water Challenges

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (June 20, 2012) – Today, the U.S. public and private sectors announced that they are dedicating over half a billion dollars to address key water challenges around the world through the newly formed U.S. Water Partnership (USWP). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson and former U.S. EPA Administrator William K. Reilly keynoted the global launch of the partnership, one of six signature initiatives announced by the U.S. government at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20).

A joint effort of both public and private sectors in the U.S., the U.S. Water Partnership is supported by 41 members including government agencies, academic organizations, water coalitions, NGOs and the private sector. The partnership was first announced on March 22, 2012 by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I am proud to announce that the American people are doing our part by coming together through the U.S. Water Partnership, a public-private partnership that is pooling resources and mobilizing American expertise, knowledge, and ingenuity to address water challenges around the globe, especially in developing countries where needs are the greatest,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

To support water security around the world, the USWP provides access to knowledge, technical assistance and training and partnership development services. The Global Environment & Technology Foundation is serving as the USWP’s secretariat.

“The U.S. Water Partnership will allow us to bring together the best thinking – in both the private and public sectors – to tackle the pressing water challenges the world faces today and will face in the future. Sharing American knowledge and expertise in water protection will allow us to mobilize resources and bring about real progress in the United States and abroad,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Like all of our sustainability work, this effort is about protecting health and the environment at the same time that we strengthen our economy. The 2 cross-sector partnerships that emerge will also allow us to rapidly scale-up innovative solutions so they can be deployed in places all over the globe – especially in the developing world, where water needs are greatest.”

Highlights of the contributions made by partners include:

- The Coca-Cola Company pledged $3.5 million to support sustainable safe water access in five African countries as well as support for operations of the U.S. Water Partnership.

- World Vision will dedicate $400 million in project support toward the goals of the partnership, including best practices from Water, Sanitation and Hygiene interventions in Haiti, India and West Africa and support for the USWP.

- Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) intends to invest at least $150 million within the next one to two years in critical water issues including desalination and distribution infrastructure.

- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will invest $21 million over the next five years on research and application activities that contribute to the understanding and improved management of our global water resources.

- The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is investing $30 million over the next five years to advance integrated water resource management, including Securing Water for People and Nature and the Great Rivers Partnership.

- The Rockefeller Foundation – The Foundation will support a $100,000 USWP signature initiative on “Multiple Use Services.”

- Skoll Global Threats Fund is investing $100,000 in a USWP signature initiative on water security in South Asia.

- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will provide access to its watershed management tools, its water quality standards, and regulatory and policy support.

- World Resources Institute (WRI) is offering access to Aqueduct – a global information platform and tool for helping private and public sector decision-makers understand water-related risks.

On Monday, June 18, 2012, 45 corporate chiefs attending Rio+20 pledged to make water security a strategic priority and called for decisive action by governments. 3 In a message to USWP launch participants, Secretary Clinton said, “If you represent a region or a country in need of cross-sector water solutions, please reach out to us as this partnership was formed primarily to serve your needs. If you are an American citizen or organization with water knowledge and resources to share, I invite you to join the effort.”

Why Earth Day is a Good Day to Care about Water and Sanitation

Earth Day is a great occasion for people around the world to come together to talk about environmental issues and highlight the major problems that the environment faces each and every day.  In that spirit, we’ve collected a list of ten reasons why Earth Day is a great day to care about water and sanitation (in no particular order):

  1. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, inadequate water and sanitation are the greatest threat to environmental health around the world.
  2. Two million tons of human waste are disposed of in water courses each day (UN-Water).
  3. According to USAID, more than seventy percent of all freshwater consumed on the planet is devoted to agricultural production, often in irrigated systems that are inefficient and environmentally unsustainable.
  4. Global Climate Change will exacerbate the effects of water scarcity around the world.  Climate change may reintroduce water security challenges in countries that have had reliable water supplies for hundreds of years, and 2.8 billion people are expected to be at risk of water shortages because of extreme variability of precipitation.
  5. According to UN HABITAT and UNEP 90% of all wastewater in developing countries is discharged untreated directly into rivers, lakes or oceans.
  6. Technologies that improve access to water and sanitation also can protect the environment.  Rainwater harvesting provides a new source of water and waterless toilets reduce water use and limit the amount of untreated human waste that is dumped into the environment.
  7. Bio-gas from the composting of human waste can be captured and used for providing electricity or cooking, lowering the amount of methane released into the atmosphere and reducing need for other sources of energy which could be more harmful to the environment.
  8. Responsible use of water by major consumers can have positive impacts on watershed protection and biodiversity.
  9. Ninety percent of diarrheal disease is linked to environmental pollution and the lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation (UN HABITAT and UNEP).
  10. According to the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, more than 50% of the Millennium Development Goal for Environmental Sustainability (MDG 7) relies on adequate water and sanitation.

Do you have other reasons to care about water for Earth Day?  Let us know on Twitter and Facebook!

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