A blue and just future is possible

Keynote speech from the International Conference on Water, Megacities and Global Change, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, December 1, 2015

The challenge is stark. Peri-urban slums ring most of the developing world’s megacities where climate and food refugees are arriving in relentless numbers. Unable to access their traditional sources of water because they have been poisoned, overexploited or priced beyond reach, many must pay exorbitant prices to local water dealers or rely on drinking water contaminated with their own waste.

UN-Habitat reports that by 2030, more than half the populations of large urban centres will be slum dwellers and the US National Academy of Scientists says that by 2050, more than one billion of these urban slum dwellers will only have daily access to enough water to fill a small bathtub.

Hardest hit cities will include Beijing, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Manila, Mexico City, Caracas, Lagos, Abidjan, Tehran, and Johannesburg. Today, greater Sao Paulo, with a population of almost 20 million people, is literally running out of water.

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