Home >News >India >Cities across globe face alarming rise in water risks: WWF report
From acute risks that have seen historic floods to chronic risks that have seen their taps running dry, the water challenges cities are facing are only going to increase in the coming decades, WWF said. Photo: Mint
From acute risks that have seen historic floods to chronic risks that have seen their taps running dry, the water challenges cities are facing are only going to increase in the coming decades, WWF said. Photo: Mint

Cities across globe face alarming rise in water risks: WWF report

  • 100 cities that are expected to suffer the greatest rise in water risk by 2050 are home to at least 350 million people as well as nationally and globally important economies

NEW DELHI: Cities across the globe could face dramatically increased water risks unless urgent action is taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change, according to WWF’s survey on water risk scenarios.

According to the scenarios in the WWF Water Risk Filter, 100 cities that are expected to suffer the greatest rise in water risk by 2050 are home to at least 350 million people as well as nationally and globally important economies. While almost 50 cities are in China, 30 are in India. These include Delhi, Jaipur, Indore, Amritsar, Pune, Srinagar, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kozhikode and Vishakhapatnam which have been identified as cities that will face increasing water risks in the next few decades.

This comes as cities across India face shortage of water due to rapid urbanization, climate change, and lack of appropriate infrastructure which continues to put stress on the existing infrastructure. Over the last few years cities including Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh have faced an acute crisis of water supply. Issues like lack of rainwater harvesting, which is key for conservation, in the country have been highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 'Mann Ki Baat' radio address where he said only 8% of rainwater gets saved in the country.

“The future of India’s environment lies in its cities. As India rapidly urbanizes, cities will be at the forefront both for India’s growth and for sustainability. For cities to break away from the current vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer solutions. This is our chance to re-evolve and re-imagine what the future of the cities could be," Sejal Worah, Programme Director, WWF India said.

The study said a multi-stakeholder engagement and ownership involving local communities could be the key in creating and conserving sustainable water infrastructure and rejuvenating urban freshwater systems. It points out that urban planning and wetland conservation needs to be integrated to ensure zero loss of freshwater systems in urban areas.

The survey said while improving urban water infrastructure and cutting water consumption will help reduce water risks, nature-based solutions including restoring degraded watersheds, reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, and restoring or creating urban wetlands are critical.

“Cities across the world have paid a high price in recent years due to worsening water risks. From acute risks that have seen historic floods to chronic risks that have seen their taps running dry, the water challenges cities are facing are only going to increase in the coming decades because the impacts of climate change will primarily be felt through water," said Alexis Morgan, WWF Global Water Stewardship Lead.

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