The study, “The challenges of water, waste and climate change in cities,” describes the tremendous challenges that cities are facing from rapid urbanisation, climate change, poor maintenance of water, wastewater infrastructure and management.
These water issues could quickly escalate into other problems such as flooding, illness, water scarcity, etc. that could affect the resilience of cities.
There is a need for urgent action to address these challenges. Otherwise, the cost of inaction will prove too high, the study says.
The researchers examined 45 municipalities and regions mostly in Europe, some in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, their water, wastewater and climate adaptation challenges. The researchers used the City Blueprint methodology to assess the sustainability of their water resources.
Using the City Blueprint approach researchers were able to distinguish five categories of sustainability: (1) cities lacking basic water services, (2) wasteful cities, (3)water-efficient cities, (4) resource-efficient and adaptive cities and (5) water-wise cities.
The study finds that cities are facing a water governance crisis and a pressing need to address it. The way forward is through creating smarter cities – “water-wise cities that integrate their sectoral agendas on water, wastewater, energy, solid waste, transport, ICT, climate adaptation and nature..”.
Successfully implementing water-wise cities will entail learning alliances of cities, and a platform to exchange challenges and best practices between cities.
Everyone from the international organisation to the private sector, city planners, city mayors has to work together to contribute solutions to address the challenges that cities around the world are facing.
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Koop, S.H.A., van Leeuwen, C.J. The challenges of water, waste and climate change in cities. Environ Dev Sustain 19, 385–418 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-016-9760-4