Cape Town is one of 12 global cities facing water scarcity and, according to experts, if drastic measures are not taken, future generations will suffer.
Pablo Garcia-Chevesich, a professor in the department of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona, in the US, said this week, residents of affected cities could benefit from adapting to the reality of water scarcity.
Cities facing similar challenges are Istanbul, Moscow, London, Sao Paulo in Brazil, Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo , Jakarta, Mexico City,Tokyo and Miami in the US.
Garcia-Chevesich was speaking at the announcement of the W12 Future of Water conference planned to take place in Stellenbosch in May.
He urged citizens and governments of affected countries to learn from other parts of the world which have had to adapt in order to survive.
He said people in areas where water had always been scarce like in Arizona which is a semi-desert, learnt early on to treat water as a precious resource.
Garcia-Chevesich made an example of how people talk about adapting but grow lawns that require water to stay green or use water hoses to remove leaves from their driveways, as a sign that adapting to the reality of climate change was slow.
The professor, who is also directing a Unesco Netflix documentary titled Waterwise, how to drain a country, said because of land-use changes, consumption increases and how people change, the availability of water was also changing.
The conference organiser, Save our Schools, (SOS NPO) executive director, Shelley Humphreys said the conference next year will have former governor of California and Terminator actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the keynote speakers.
“The aim of W12 is to create the first ‘Major City Best Practice Water Protocol’ and to raise awareness
about the impact of climate change and the role of cities and citizens
in finding solutions for resilience
in a water-scarce world,” said Humphreys.
The three-day event is expected to create an estimated economic impact of R12.8million for the city with more than 1500 local and international delegates expected.
A key objective of the conference is to focus on the role of citizens, encouraging active citizenship and understanding the responsibility individuals have in solving the climate crisis, without waiting for politicians, official organisations or governments to intervene, said Humphreys.