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30 Indian cities to face increasing ‘water risks’ by 2050: WWF report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on November 03, 2020

About 30 Indian cities will face increasing “water risks” in the next few decades according to a new report released by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

According to the scenarios in the WWF Water Risk Filter report, nearly 30 Indian cities, including Jaipur, Indore, Amritsar, Pune, Srinagar, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kozhikode and Visakhapatnam will face acute “water risks.”

Global scenario

Globally, the report estimates that “hundreds of millions of people in cities across the globe could face dramatically increased water risks.” 100 cities will witness a massive rise in water risks by 2050. The list also includes cities such as Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Mecca and Rio de Janeiro.

Almost half of these cities are in China, with other hotspots in South Asia, Middle East, South America and Africa.

These cities overall, are home to 350 million people. Globally, populations in areas of high-water risk could increase to 51 per cent by 2050.

“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.

Navigating risks in India

“India dominates both current and future lists of cities with the highest overall water risk,” WWF said.

The report suggests that the Smart Cities initiative in India could aid an integrated urban water management framework. It further suggests that a multi-stakeholder engagement and ownership involving local communities will play a key role in creating and conserving a sustainable water infrastructure and rejuvenating urban freshwater systems.

“The future of India’s environment lies in its cities,” Dr Sejal Worah, Programme Director, WWF India, said. “As India rapidly urbanises, 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.”

Furthermore, cutting water consumption and nature-based solutions to conserve water will also help reduce water risks.

Apart from this, private sector companies and financial institutions will also have a role to play working in tandem with cites.

“Companies, cities, and investors – even ministries of finance, are finally waking up to the growing water risks facing the economy and the need to take urgent action to reduce their risks and tackle shared water challenges,” said Morgan. “By harnessing the new scenarios in the Water Risk Filter, companies, cities and investors can better assess, respond and plan for climate and water resilience —helping to reduce water risks to their own operations as well as cities.”

Published on November 03, 2020

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