This is according to Dr Isabel Bortagaray, a Human Science Research Council (HSRC) research fellow, who presented a video conference seminar in Cape on Tuesday on “An Innovation-based, Sustainable and Inclusive Water Policy Research Agenda: Questions from the Uruguayan Case”.
Bortagaray is based at the Institute for Sustainable Development, Innovation and Social Inclusion at the University of the Republic, Uruguay.
She said water security was of concern world over and constitutes one of the main global risks in its impact on development in general and on the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in particular.
Bortagarey said the complexity and uncertainty related to water and climate change, and the pervasiveness of water throughout the different SDGs, calls for a policy in which innovation is prioritised.
She said innovation was required not only because water services were still missing large groups of the population, but because water quality and water management imposed technological and institutional challenges.
Bortagaray said water use was growing at twice the rate of the population growth.
“If this continues, two-thirds of the global population will face water stress by 2025.”
Putting her South American country, Uruguay, into context, she said it was small with a population of 3.4 million people.
Bortagaray said the agro-industrial sector accounted for 78% of all exported goods in 2016 and currently produces food for 28million people.
She said irrigation was responsible for the bulk of water use in Uruguay, accounting for 84%.
Uruguay’s water policy includes access to drinking water and sanitation as fundamental human rights, prioritised use of water for human consumption, sustainable management of hydrographic basins, and citizen participation in the planning, management and control of water.